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Los Alamos, New Mexico, is home to Project Enlightenment, a secret research facility devoted to time travel. In Going Back (2020), the first volume of Abel’s Defenders of Time Series, a project team led by Special Agent Lou Hessman, head of security, traveled back to 1919 to prevent a time displacement wave from changing history. The team returned with Claire Hill, a 24-year-old reporter who would have died of influenza in her own time. That was three months ago; now joining the team is Dr. Sam Weiss’ niece, Samantha Weiss. She has a doctorate in time-travel physics and, as the usually impassive Hessman can’t help noticing, is “a statuesque beauty.” But she’s barely arrived when Russian-speaking terrorists from the future kidnap her. A rescue mission that includes Hessman, Claire, and her fiance, professor Ben Stein, follows the time-displacement trail to London in 2120. Just as important as retrieving Samantha is understanding why she was nabbed—and why the terrorists allow her to return. The danger is far from over. In this ambitious installment, Abel provides a fast-paced adventure with entertaining action sequences. The plot ties in well to readers’ serious contemporary concerns with plastic waste, lightened by humor and romance. But the book isn’t very imaginative about the future, mainly just providing some technological window dressing for familiar contemporary elements, and is downright retro in some respects. Claire and Samantha, unlike the male characters, are described in terms of their attractiveness: “At five and a half feet tall and slender, with long black hair, a pearly white complexion, and blue eyes,” Claire “was a beauty in any century.” Samantha is Miss rather than Doctor, unlike her uncle. The uncredited monochrome illustrations depict dynamic cityscapes but human figures are amateurish.

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