A Gift of Time by Jerry Merritt

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This book delves deep into a thought experiment most of us have had; what if I could go back to being a kid but with all of the knowledge I have now?

Micajah is visited by an alien who comes to Earth in dire need of help. She calls herself Lonely Pebble – although she is a nebulous term since her preferred state of being IIRC is a floating orb. I very nearly DNFd early because it had creepy vibes when “the most non-intimidating state” the alien could think of is naked human female and he purposefully tricked her into staying that way. The main character is 80 years old at the start and he’s suicidal. His wife has died and although they didn’t have a great relationship, they’d been together a long time and she left behind a vacuum he didn’t want to live inside. He was interrupted by an alien time-traveler who’s ship is broken n’ whatnot.

So in exchange for helping her he would get one wish — and yeah he’s thinking “wow this is very much so like a genie”. What he wants is to go back to being ten and to try and fix something that went terribly wrong. You don’t know what it is until you get there, but in order to go back he has to let go of his present. He thinks to himself about how Jimmy, his son, will cease to exist if he goes back in time but he does it anyway. So it’s got to be something catastrophic – right?

I have an appreciation for the fact that the main character is 80 years old and contemplating suicide. That sounds like a strange thing to say, but I hear it all the time from my clients that they are done with this life and wish they could let go – it’s such a powerful human state of mind/being and yet I nearly never see it represented in any kind of speculative fiction. He is a greyish character, I mean one of the first things he does is poof his son out of existence, and not to mention every other human on the planet since he reset the timeline with his wish, and he did it all knowing that. It wasn’t something he did in a haste and then was like, “nnnoooooo” <insert calculon gif>. It took me until almost the very end to like him a little. There was a friendship he built with someone from his past that he didn’t have his first time around, and I did find that very interesting if a bit taken to extremes. The kid’s father is very abusive, violent to animals, and an alcoholic. It did keep tension going on multiples levels and storylines since helping that kid wasn’t the original goal. It also humanized him and made him more of a sympathetic character despite me side-eyeing a lot of his decisions. But that friendship ends rather abruptly when he sets off on his next adventure… and then he went back to being kinda shitty to someone else and I was like “damnit”.

As far as the world building there’s a bit too much exposition. There are a bunch of examples of info-dumping in a way that just wasn’t holding my attention. The tech and how time travel worked in and of itself was interesting, but the way it was introduced wasn’t always. The aliens did not feel very alien to me which is usually a nitpick of mine for the First Encounter subgenre.

All in all this was okay, if you want something quick and fun with a lot of time jumps and math talk with a really great audio this could be for you.


  • Plot: 9/15
  • Characters: 10.5/15
  • World Building: 9/15
  • Writing: 11/15
  • Pacing: 12.5/15
  • Originality: 9/15
  • Enjoyment: 6/10

Final Score: 67.5/100