Readers of science fiction will recognize some of the elements upon which Goonan draws, in particular the long tradition of time-travel stories and alternate histories, not to overlook those popular novels about secret adepts who manipulate history and run the world. But Goonan doesn’t crank out adventure pulp. While she keeps the reader guessing about all sorts of riddles, she is just as interested in depicting family happiness, the romance of the past, the lingering influence of our childhoods. As a result, she writes beautifully about comic books, board games, make-believe in the backyard, drawing pictures with colored pencils, playing musical instruments, family picnics. At the same time, however, in this novel none of these familiar activities are wholly innocent. For instance, those toy astronauts called Spacies seem to have appeared quite suddenly on the market and spread all around the world, while the young Jill’s comic-book heroine Gypsy Myra clearly resembles Eliani Hadntz.