In July 2015, the first edition of The Chronocar was released. Since then it has earned a number of honors, including three literary awards and placement in the University Archives of my Alma mater. I’ve been interviewed on WVON and WGN radio. Among Amazon, Audible, Goodreads and other venues, it has received nearly 100 reviews, the vast majority of which have been highly positive.
A few reviews posted within the past couple of weeks have said some things that, quite honestly, surprised me. There have been some negative reviews, and that’s to be expected; no matter how well liked something may be, there will always be folks who are not happy about it. You can’t please everyone. But these recent reviews have actually described The Chronocar as “racist.” Primarily because of the use of the “n” word and the racially fueled violence.
Well, The Chronocar is a time travel story that starts with the post Civil War South and ends up in the middle of Chicago’s bloodiest race riot. I spent many many hours researching the history of these times to make the story as believable and accurate as possible. It would be rather difficult to portray these times realistically without the name calling and the violence.
Is The Chronocar racist? Of course not. Are some of the characters in the story racist? Absolutely. Just as some of the people in 1888 and in 1919 were racist.
As much as the story highlighted discrimination and hatred, if you read it, you will also see white men trying to treat black railroad workers fairly, a young white man risking his neck to protect a threatened black couple, a black policeman in 1919 Chicago, and one of the villains of the story is a black man.
Clearly this response is at least partially triggered by recent events. I get that. In each case, the reviewer seemed to want to warn readers of the type of content in the book, even conceding that it was well written. I get that also. I just hope this doesn’t discourage anyone from considering The Chronocar, which hopefully teaches a history lesson, and is, believe it or not, first and foremost, science fiction.