The journey commenced in 1992 with the words, I stepped out of the dark smoky habitat of Earl’s Place. The novel was January’s Paradigm. The trek continued in One Hot January, and now it concludes in January’s Thaw. In One Hot January, Joe January, an emotionally aloof private investigator from the South Bronx, uncovers a seemingly impossible plot of time travel and alternate realities by grudgingly agreeing to help a pretty young woman locate her missing father, a Professor of Archeology from Columbia College, who must prevent the secret location of Hitler’s body from falling into the wrong hands.
Many people obsess over their past, but no one more than I. Perchance it’s because, as a man out of time, I left behind so much of it unlived. If that makes little sense, consider that I’m a time traveler.
Most people either find love or love finds them, and they hold onto it, stay with it their entire lives. They are the fortunate ones. The unfortunate manage to make it out of this life without experiencing love, perhaps taking solace in the juxtaposed adage that it is better never to have loved than to have loved and lost.
I was fortunate in that love found me not once but twice, in two different centuries. In the first case I never realized what I had until it was too late. In the second, I fully realized what I had, but knowing didn’t prevent my losing her. You could say I’m living proof that one can be both lucky and unlucky in love.
Love found me the second time one hundred years after the first time. Her name was Ecstasy, and she once told me that she loved my loneliness—a man out of place out of time. I surmised that her love for me was born of pity. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my loneliness was the result of my losing the one woman who, at one time, mattered most to me. To this day I regret that I never told Lindy how much she mattered.
After Ecstasy was killed, I often wondered if she might not have known that all along—that my loneliness was for a woman who could never threaten to usurp her place in my life.
People love for a variety of reasons. I loved Ecstasy, initially, for her body. But in time, as I realized I’d never again see my native New York City circa 1947, she came to mean much more to me.
Was our love, hers for my aloneness and mine for her acceptance of my aloneness, of any less value than any other couple’s love? Not to us it wasn’t.
Still, during those initial months, after I’d poured myself into Ecstasy’s body, in the afterglow it was of Lindy, my first love, that I thought. If Ecstasy knew, she never let on.
In the pages that follow, I attempt, however clumsily, to conclude my life’s story. I will chronicle the events that led to my appearance in a future a century and a lifetime removed from where my story began.
But there is more. Much more.
Although the backdrop for my story is time travel and alternate realities, the underlying theme is a more human one—of love lost, another love found only to be lost, and of a decision, the result of a single regret brought about by the realization that my self-professed courage to never risk my heart to love was instead cowardice, to rectify a wrong in a life filled with regrets.
By the end of this account, perhaps you will understand why I risked giving my past self the chance at the happiness that long eluded him. I failed and he paid with his life. Since then I’ve many times considered making another attempt. Was I justified to try even once?
You may judge me, as it is man’s nature to judge others, or discount my story as the ravings of a lunatic mind or simply the fiction of an overactive imagination—but before you do, I ask that you read the words that follow and then ask yourself if you would have acted any differently.
Rachael Perry, author of How to Fly
Great books strive to entertain, enrich and do nothing less than change the world. In January’s Thaw, J. Conrad Guest gives us an unforgettable adventure seen through the cracked lens of our broken present and an all-too-possible, what-if past. Full of intrigue, romance and scathing social commentary, it is both an ambitious novel and an exciting, page-turning imaginative quest for that which is beautiful and true.
Terry Kirby Erickson, author of In the Palms of Angels
Thrust one hundred years into the future, time-traveling sleuth Joe January gets a chance to ‘do it all again.’ A fateful meeting with a mysterious poet named ‘Ecstasy’ melts his heart after a lifetime in cold storage. For those who’d love their own ‘do-over,’ Joe’s journey of self-discovery and personal redemption is a must-read.