James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > Post

Let Me Sail

The Ship Beyond Time  (Girl From Everywhere, volume 2)

By Heidi Heilig 

8 Dec, 2023

Doing the WFC's Homework


Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

2017’s The Ship Beyond Time is the second volume in Heidi Heilig’s Girl From Everywhere nautical time-travel series.

Nix is at risk of erasure from history. She will never have existed if her addict father, Slate, perseveres in his quest to save his beloved wife by rewriting the history that led to both her death and Nix’s birth. Nix takes command of her father’s ship Temptation. Under her command, the ship will continue to travel between the eras, as well as to the lands of legend1.

In theory. In practice, just how much control Nix has over events is unclear at best.

Problem one: there are other people with the ability to travel to any location for which they possess a map. Ignoring for the moment how problematic the concept of before” is when time travelers are involved, at least one time farer claims knowledge of Slate and Nix’s futures. Among the predictions: that Nix will lose a loved one, just as her father did.

The obvious candidate for death is Nix’s lover Kashmir. Indeed, the prophecy nearly comes true when Kashmir is swept overboard. This time he is saved. All that shows is that this mishap is not the one in the prophecy, not that it was wrong.

Nix could, of course, emulate her father and try to rewrite time. It’s not clear that this can be done. The consequences of success are also hard to determine. Would history continue with a minor alteration or would reality itself implode? It would be wise to determine which model is correct before trying to edit time.

Problem two: famously deranged Captain Donald Crowhurst dispatches Princess Dahut as an emissary, with an invitation for the Temptation to visit the fabled city Ker-Ys. Like Atlantis, Ker-Ys is fated to vanish beneath the seas. Legend says Dahut will play a central role in this disaster. Although visiting a city in the company of the person rumored to be the cause of its doom seems unwise, Nix accepts the invitation.

Like Slate, Crowhurst has a bold plan to rewrite history. Unlike Slate, he can provide evidence that history can indeed be rewritten, at least on a small scale. His current goal? Preventing Cook from discovering Hawai‘i.

Crowhurst is canny enough to obtain something certain to purchase grudging cooperation from Slate and Nix … a lost loved one neither Nix nor Slate have the skill to retrieve. The choices are to refuse to help Crowhurst, and lose their loved one, or cooperate and possibly lose the universe.


I had not previously realized there is an and give up show business?” school of time travel but here’s proof. Nothing about time travel in this novel seems to recommend it as an occupation, but few are willing to give it up.

Once again, I question the plausibility of the setting. This makes sense with SF, perhaps not so much with fantasy. But I cannot help tackling fantasy with SF tools.

First: if time travel could break the universe and if there are legions of uncertified time travelers sailing up and down the time stream, then time would already have been broken. Whatever model best describes reality, it’s not one where a hard sneeze at the wrong time would shatter the universe.

Second: being able to travel to any mapped location, real or not, is incredibly powerful. Consider, for example, how many of the fantasy novels of the late 20th century have maps, not to mention the plethora of maps of alien worlds that can be found over in science fiction. This series could go on … and on … and on.

Third: the absence of due diligence2. Although he characters themselves lie and conceal information, they take the vaguely worded, inciteful predictions of their futures at face value. Granted, some of the predictions may have panned out. However, if there’s one thing myth teaches us, it is that obsessing on prophecy helps bring it about. Therefore, the only logical response if someone offers vaguely phrased prophecy is to weigh the seer down with chains and drop them into Kīlauea Caldera, then ignore the prognostication. The characters get jerked around by Crowhurst because they ignore this simple rule.

For readers not wedded to excessively analytical queries about the underlying models in play, the novel offers a charming combination of high-stakes and characters about whom to worry. There’s certainly room for more sequels in the series, although as far as I can tell there have not been any3.

The Ship Beyond Time is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Chapters-Indigo).

1: If the previous book mentioned that maps of imaginary places are just as useful as maps of real places, I forgot that fact before reading this novel. Nothing suggests navigators can draw their own maps. It seems that there must be a critical mass of belief in the legend, otherwise the travelers could just sketch a map, any map, from the Library of All Possible Maps. The fact none of the travelers do this suggests it cannot be done.

2: The lack of rigor regarding which model of time travel is correct is likely due to the difficulty of testing. How would you know if you had altered the past, if the alteration changed you as well? The most prudent course of action would be to alter something in a future one could reach, to avoid any risk of having one’s birth removed from the time stream. A person born in 1961 could try, for example, to prevent Al Gore from winning in 2000 or Ted Cruz in 2016. One should pick tests without personal consequences.

3: If ISFDB can be trusted, Heidi Heilig hasn’t published anything new since 2021. I also searched her website (no longer functional), her Facebook account (last updated 2022), her Twitter account (last updated January 2023), her Goodreads blog (last updated 2017), and her Pinterest (last updated five years ago). But … digging through Amazon, I note that she was part of the team for a Wonder Woman comic in 2022.