Ruben Prien is still at work with the Project, still dreaming of altering man's fate by going back in time to adjust events... to interfere, some might say, with destiny. Once again, his conduit to that bygone era, his messenger to that lost world, is Simon Morley, the man who actually proved himself capable of traveling back and forth in time.
Rube's purpose in summoning Si back from that earlier world, where he has taken up permanent residence, is no less grand than an attempt to prevent World War I from erupting. It is ironic, therefore, that the man assigned to carry to America the papers that might help avert the Great Catastrophe travels to his meeting on board the Titanic. And it is Si's task to attempt to ensure his safe passage.
In Finney's wonderful cult classic Time and Again (1970), Manhattan adman Simon Morley joined a secret government time-travel project, transported himself back to the New York City of 1882, fell in love and decided to remain in the past. This entertaining sequel, which traces Simon's attempts to alter a course of events in 1912 and thereby prevent WWI, lacks the magic and urgency of its predecessor but is diverting nonetheless. Bidding goodbye to his 19th-century wife, Simon first revisits the late 20th century, where remnants of the ``Project'' propose another experiment to redirect history. Finney (who also wrote The Body Snatchers) makes the most of this creaky premise as Simon, leaping back to 1912, meets Al Jolson, witnesses a dirigible launch, circles Manhattan in a biplane and befriends vaudeville actors. To complete the experiment, Simon must help Major Archie Butt-an aide to President Taft-return to the States from a crucial diplomatic mission. The hitch is that Butt is sailing on the Titanic-and Simon, who joins him on the ship's maiden voyage, must desperately try to stay the hand of fate and keep it from sinking. Like Time and Again, this mind-stretching escapist adventure is studded with period photos and news clippings that function as an integral part of the story.