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'The Paradox Hotel' by Rob Hart is a trippy time travel murder mystery (exclusive)

In Rob Hart's "The Paradox Hotel," an old-fashioned murder mystery stirs up trouble in a luxury lodging for time travelers.
In Rob Hart's "The Paradox Hotel," an old-fashioned murder mystery stirs up trouble in a luxury lodging for time travelers. (Image credit: Ballantine Books)

Ever since H.G. Wells' sci-fi novella "The Time Machine" entered Victorian society in 1895, we've been transfixed with the notion of hopping backwards and forwards via the turbulent waters of the time stream. 

Expanding upon the time travel idea of skipping through the centuries, film franchises and TV shows like "The Terminator," "Back to the Future," "12 Monkeys," "Looper" and "Doctor Who" have all explored the promise and the perils of time travel to varying degrees over the last 50 years. The result is some of the best time travel movies of all time.

Now New York Times bestselling author Rob Hart is dipping his imagination into the temporal pool with "The Paradox Hotel (opens in new tab)," (Ballantine Books, 2022) where he introduces us to a mysterious lodging facility located beside a timeport that specifically caters to wayward time travelers.

Hart’s work has already attracted Hollywood luminaries by selling the adaptation rights to his 2019 futuristic thriller "The Warehouse (opens in new tab)" to Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard for his next directorial project. "The Paradox Hotel" has also been optioned to develop into a TV series. (If you're interested in more wild science fiction reads, check out our best sci-fi books guide.

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The Paradox Hotel: A Novel | was $28 now $20.49 at Amazon. (opens in new tab)

Dive into an old-fashioned murder mystery with a time travel twist in Rob Hart's new novel "The Paradox Hotel" out now. 

The cover for "The Paradox Hotel" by Rob Hart. (Image credit: Ballantine Books)

This sci-fi mystery's storyline introduces the character of January Cole, a director of security at the Paradox Hotel, where a typical day finds rich tourists checking in dressed to impress for a dozen different time periods while awaiting departures for flights to the past. It's a bizarre workplace environment where clocks might tick backwards and temporal spirits roam.

There's also the conundrum of a dead body in Room 526 that, like Schrödinger's Cat, is both there and not there at the same instant. But January is the only one who can see this spectral corpse and her reality begins to unravel when VIP guests arrive as the U.S. government prepares to privatize time travel technology and a ghostly murderer is on the loose inside the hotel.

"I've always loved time travel stories, and I finally decided to give it a try with 'The Paradox Hotel' — which seemed like a good idea when I started, and then I learned that actually writing time travel is pretty complicated," Hart told Space.com. "But it was worth it! Since it was about time travel, I was pretty adamant that it needed robots and dinosaurs — because if I'm going to do it, I'm going to have fun with it. But it was also a great mechanism for exploring grief, and how hard it is for us to face ourselves." 

Author Rob Hart. (Image credit: Ballantine Books)

Hart first got the premise while searching for real-world parallels, and discovered it in the current state of space travel. 

" Something that started as a research venture by the government, and became underfunded over the years, which opened the door to private investment,."  Hart explains." And now you've got guys like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk sending tourists into space. It seems like time travel would follow a similar path. But here's the thing: space isn't just about tourism. It's about communication networks, and how zero-G would improve manufacturing and shipping, and the fact that the average meteor contains trillions of dollars in precious metals. There are a lot of ways to profit in space, and it was fun to figure out the ways people could profit with time travel."

"The Paradox Hotel" was officially optioned for an episodic TV series by Universal's Working Title, and Hart reveals that the development process is coming along great. 

"I just recently read the finished draft of the pilot episode, and it's just bonkers brilliant," he adds. "It takes a lot of liberties, but in the best way possible, really spinning out the worldbuilding and the mystery aspects, and making them work in a really visual way. At this point we move on to the next steps in the process, and sure, it's just an option, and this stuff takes forever, and it might not even get made — but I'm excited to have made it this far."

Rob Hart's "The Paradox Hotel (opens in new tab)" is available now at book stores and online outlets.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.