Have you ever done something that was so bad that you wished you could go back in time to change it?
But of course you couldn't.
Peter Federson married a girl who was wrong for him, and rejected the one who right. Then he flunked out of college, which led to a failed enlistment in the Army, and a string of failed jobs, and failed relationships, leading to the inevitable: One day Pete took some pills and washed them down with vodka while moldering in his trashy trailer located in a suburb of Chicago.
In a frothy haze, something possessed Federson to take a train to Carbondale, Illinois, where he passed out under a canoe sitting next to a lake. The location and date are critically important to this story.
The place is Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and the month is November of 2010.
When Peter Federson awakens the next morning, the lake looks out of kilter; The trees have apparently shrunk during the night.
He stumbles towards a group of dorms and meets Marta, a student he once knew, but she hasn't aged a day in nearly forty years. As shocking as that was, when Pete chanced to see his own reflection in a mirror, the view made his eyes jerk away, because Peter hadn't aged either.
Peter Federson is once again an SIU student during Spring quarter of 1971.
Now Pete has the chance to marry Katherine, the girl he really loves; pass algebra-the course that got him thrown out of college the first time-and find a way to control his chronic nervousness, so that he can finally earn a passing grade for the twentieth century, and be promoted to the 21st.
But a malevolent algebra instructor is committed to flunking the entire class, Pete's wife-to-be isn't about to let him go, a grand mal riot shakes the campus, and Peter's own personality conspires to make this second run through the spring of 1971, a repeat of the first. Added to these crushing burdens is something within Peter-we'll call it his Id-that fights his attempts to change for the better.
And the Id is winning.
SIU's colors are maroon and white, and the Saluki is its mascot, but the school colors have a more sinister meaning in this story, for Peter Federson is marooned in 1971, a...