Title: The Fullness of Time
Author: Kate Wilhelm
Published: September 3, 2012 by Blackstone Audio
Category: Science Fiction – Novella
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Hiram Granville, a modern Leonardo, secured more than a thousand patents during his lifetime, often just ahead of others who had already been working the same ideas. His son John, an economics genius, never lost a cent in the stock market or any other financial deal and was investigated for insider trading on more than one occasion. Now Cat, a documentarian; her researcher, Mercy; and Cracker Jack, an electronics whiz, are preparing to do a documentary about the Granville clan. What they find as they research the family is madness, suicide, a seemingly total seclusion, and a frightening glimpse about what it means to peer into the future.
I tend to enjoy Kate Wilhelm’s work, both her standard mysteries and when she veers off into speculative fiction,which is why I borrowed this one from the library. I was disappointed in The Fullness of Time, maybe because it was so short, the audio, read by Marguerite Gavin, only ran 2 hours, 52 minutes and it didn’t really give me time to get into the story or understand the characters’ motives.
The story focusses on Mercy, a researcher who is helping her friend Cat with a documentary on the Granvilles. Cat thinks that there’s a secret to their successes, and failures, and recruites Mercy to help. Mercy end up going on a drive with one of the family whose name I can’t remember right now. He tells her all about his life and his gift/curse.
It is a novella and it’s tough to talk about the plot without giving too much away. The concept is interesting, that “seeing” the future is possible and exploitable. And it’s that possible exploitation, both of the knowledge you could gain and the people capable of doing it, that drives the second half. I actually don’t usually read time travel stories, the premise just seems too full of holes, but I liked the way The Fullness of Time dealt with the theory. My main complaint has to do with the lack of development of the characters. They went through the motions, and I will say the plot had a few twists I didn’t see coming, but I didn’t understand why Cat and, especially Mercy, cared so much. Yes, she spend an afternoon with the man before he dies, but why was that enough for her to change her whole life?
Overall, it’s not my favorite of Wilhelm’s works. I wanted there to be more and there just wasn’t.