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The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

The Ministry of Time


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Kaliane Bradley, on your first book!

by Kaliane Bradley

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Quick take

Having trouble finding the love of your life? Have you considered that you might be looking in the wrong century...

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In the near future, a civil servant is offered the salary of her dreams and is, shortly afterward, told what project she’ll be working on. A recently established government ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to establish whether time travel is feasible—for the body, but also for the fabric of space-time.

She is tasked with working as a “bridge”: living with, assisting, and monitoring the expat known as “1847,” or Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition to the Arctic, so he’s a little disoriented to be living with an unmarried woman who regularly shows her calves, surrounded by outlandish concepts such as “washing machines,” “Spotify,” and “the collapse of the British Empire.” But with an appetite for discovery, a seven-a-day cigarette habit, and the support of a charming and chaotic cast of fellow expats, he soon adjusts.

Over the next year, what the bridge initially thought would be, at best, a horrifically uncomfortable roommate dynamic, evolves into something much deeper. By the time the true shape of the Ministry’s project comes to light, the bridge has fallen haphazardly, fervently in love, with consequences she never could have imagined. Forced to confront the choices that brought them together, the bridge must finally reckon with how—and whether she believes—what she does next can change the future.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Ministry of Time.
The Ministry of Time


Perhaps he’ll die this time.

He finds this doesn’t worry him. Maybe because he’s so cold he has a drunkard’s grip on his mind. When thoughts come, they’re translucent, free-swimming medusae. As the Arctic wind bites at his hands and feet, his thoughts slop against his skull. They’ll be the last thing to freeze over.

He knows he is walking, though he can no longer feel it. The ice in front of him bounces and retreats, so he must be moving forward. He has a gun across his back, a bag across his front. Their weight is both meaningless and Sisyphean.

He is in a good mood. If his lips were not beyond sensation, he would whistle.

In the distance, he hears the boom of cannon fire. Three in a row, like a sneeze. The ship is signaling.

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Why I love it

As a kid, escaping in time travel fantasies was one of my favorite pastimes. The Ministry of Time satisfied all my wildest dreams, taking me on a genre-bendy romp for the ages.

We meet our protagonist just as she receives a new, top-secret position: she’ll be working for a government ministry tasked with bringing individuals from history into the present—testing if the time travel technology they discovered is actually feasible. As a “bridge” for one of these historical figures, Commander Graham Gore from an 1840s Antarctic expedition, her job is to live with him in a government-provided house and help adjust (a quite disconcerted) Gore to the modern day. Surrounded by a quirky cast of characters from all over the past, we watch as Gore and his bridge acclimate to the time period and each other, slowly falling into a feeling that something more might be going on between the two of them. As our protagonist’s relationship with Gore grows, so does her suspicion that things aren’t squeaky clean within the Ministry she works for.

A fast-paced rollercoaster of a story, Bradley infects every page of The Ministry of Time with endearing hilarity, providing insightful critiques of both past and present society. Fair warning: if you pick up this emotional and twisty adventure of a book, you won’t be able to put it back down.

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