ArtSpoken & Reviews

Light Across Time - a sweeping SA sci-fi saga

Jennifer de Klerk
08/24/2011 09:40:34

Jennifer de Klerk: Tom Learmont’s Light Across Time is one of the most intriguing books I’ve read in a long time.

As South African as boerewors in places, it is at once a romance, a treasure hunt, a riddle game and a sweeping sci-fi saga.

Steve had his first close encounter in the mountains of the then Rhodesia. Mel, who hails from the barren plains of the Free State, is a sceptic observer writing articles on alien abductions for a lunatic fringe magazine. Both have emotional baggage, but tentatively, tenderly, via e-mail and erotic poetry, they find each other.

In a London pub, the enigmatic Elemer befriends them and sets them a challenge and a riddle game. His clues send them delving into palaeontology and geology, alternative science and Ancient Egypt with side forays into poetry and the court of Henry VIII.

What does it mean? What’s the connection? And what is the impact on their growing relationship? The action moves from London to the Joburg Zoo and the Cradle of Humankind, from the Radium Beer Hall to the Tswaing Crater.

It does all make sense and it’s a sense that will knock your socks off. I’ve read a lot of science fiction, but I’ve never met this premise before.

Tom Learmont lives in Joburg and his setting is as realistic as it is possible to be. This lively narrative is packed with fascinating facts and memorable characters.

And the finale – I am not going to be a spoiler – is as sweeping as any Star Trek fantasy.


Kwela Books  R190; ISBN: 978-0-7957-0332-4; Softcover; 256 pp.

Jennifer de Klerk is editor of