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Timescoop by John Brunner

Timescoop (1969)

by John Brunner

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This is early Brunner, I would say, being written prior to 1961. This book is like the film "Time Bandits", with deeply irresponsible people going wild with inappropriate technology. Not a hint of the ability revealed in "Squares of the City" or "the Sheep Look Up." I'm glad he was encouraged to write more after this. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 28, 2014 |

Industrial magnate Harold Freitas wants a publicity stunt that will devastate his competitors when he launches his company's Timescoop capability, and so he decides to organize a family reunion -- the other family members being distinguished ancestors of his hauled out of the past by the Timescoop technology. What he doesn't realize is that the genealogist advising him on the distinction of his ancestors has done as all genealogists do in such situations: he gave a flattering depiction of the ancestors in question. So Freitas finds himself trying to limit the damage cause caused by a motley crew of psychopaths, sexual deviants and sleazebags. This is all rather reminiscent of the kind of lightweight, modestly entertaining, moderately amusing novels Robert Silverberg used to write way back in his early days, although to be honest is not as good.

The way that Timescoop works is of more interest, though. The chronon is (for the purposes of the tale) the smallest possible duration -- the unit of time. If you excise a chronon-thick layer (as it were) out of something's or someone's timeline, no one could ever notice, the gap between the two bits of the timeline being substantially smaller than an instant. Thus you avoid any possibility of a pesky time paradox, because you've left the past to all intents and purposes exactly the way you found it. Once you have the "cross-section" back in your 21st-century laboratory, you can simply let it behave the way nature intended: continue to exist along the time dimension as well as, of course, in the three spatial ones. "[R:]ight here, in the shape of this statue, is proof that it can be done, and even though we saw it -- uh -- grow in the Timescoop lab this morning, it is in every possible respect the original which we located in Praxiteles's own workshop and cross-sectioned just before its dispatch to the temple it was commissioned for." (p11)

It's depressing that the man responsible for such significant novels as Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up, who with The Shockwave Rider effectively invented cyberpunk years before anyone knew what it was, probably earned himself a better hourly rate churning out -- quite probably in his sleep -- such dreary, supposedly funny, instantly forgettable, wholly unnecessary crap as this. Them's the commercial imperatives of the book trade, ain't they? ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
Amusing, though the cover copy is way misleading.
--J. ( )
  Hamburgerclan | Dec 31, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brunner, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cherry, David A.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freas, KellyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velez, WalterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Each in his narrow cell forever laid The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep." Gray: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
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"That'll do nicely, Chester," said Harold Freitas III as the statue drew abreast of the long lounge on which his wife, Sarah, was reclining.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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