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Up the Line by Robert Silverberg

Up the Line (1969)

by Robert Silverberg

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Pretty good story. This guy can write. Lots of SEX. Sometimes it adds to the story and sometimes just to add lots of sex. Not a book for teens. ( )
  ikeman100 | May 7, 2017 |
This book is definitely a product of the times in which it was written. Set squarely within the mindset of the sex & drugs counter-culture that sprang from 1960's America, much of it simply falls flat today. I get that Silverberg was going for humor - and there are a few humorous situations - but the rampant sex, the misogyny, the pedophilia, and the incest pretty much ruined it for me. I very nearly quit at about 1/3 of the way through but decided to persevere. I guess I'm glad I finished because it did get better. By better, I mean that it went from a DNF 1/2-star rating all the way up to a less-than-mediocre 2 stars.

The creepy sex stuff kept rearing its squicky head but, behind all that unnecessary cruft, there was a pretty cool time-travel story/history lesson trying to catch my attention. Unfortunately, every time the story started to get interesting, along would come some poorly-inserted boinking. Ah well, I did enjoy the ending - partly because the book was finally over (hah!) - but also because it happened to be a fun little twist. At the end of this one, Silverberg continues to be hit & miss for me. Too bad this one was mostly a miss. ( )
  ScoLgo | Jan 27, 2017 |
Up the Line (1969) is a time travel novella by American science fiction author Robert Silverberg. The plot revolves mainly around the paradoxes brought about by time travel, though it is also notable for the liberal dosage of sex and humor. It was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1970.

( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
Silverberg's Up the Line is one of the most compelling and plausibly complex time travel stories ever written. The intricate plot, the numerous logical deductions and analyses of the side-effects of time travel, and the engaging tours through history (mostly Byzantine and the Crusades) all earn this story a perfect rating (5/5). There are many technologies even casually incorporated in this story from the 60's that still feel fresh and futuristic. So from a science fiction standpoint it is a tour de force.

However, it also incorporates a continual overdose of apparently autobiographical hangups about sex, love, relationships, with comically stereotypical late 60's hogwash that it all mires the story and the protagonists. So called "free love" and psychedelic drugs were certainly a part of Silverberg's culture in the late 60's, but he also wrote this story with so much blatant misogyny it is a serious detriment. It wasn't that he carefully planted these things as characteristics for the protagonist to overcome -- they are so fundamental to Silverberg's way of thinking at the time, the protagonist never does overcome his own prejudices, nor even seem to recognize they exist. ( )
  Jack-in-the-Green | Nov 5, 2015 |
My reactions to reading this book in 1992. Spoilers follow.

This book was a lot of fun, a lot better than I expected. Along with Robert Heinlein’s "All You Zombies" and Alexander Jablokov's "Ring of Time", it's one of the most complicated time travel stories I've read. I read recently a scientist saying that Silverberg did about all you can do with time travel in this novel, and that's true.

This is one of those few books that lives up to that sf reviewer's cliches about an author throwing off in a paragraph ideas others would base a novel. (And Silverberg would do fine either way.) Silverberg gives us the idea of killing one's ancestors (one of the very oldest and hoariest time travel ideas) as a form of suicide and revenge on one's father. Linked to this is the idea (with more or less incestful connotations) of sleeping with your female ancestors (not your mother though). Silverberg introduces the idea of financial schemes via time travel: currency manipulation, planting antiques to be found by archaelogists, smuggling artifacts. Of course, there is the possibility of altering history (a possibility guarded against by the comically fanatical and boorish Time Patrol) by saving JFK, poisoning Christ, killing Hitler. Silverberg has his Time Couriers fully use time as a fourth dimension of travel to set up alternate lives in history, to meet each other at non-sequential points in their lives. And he comes up with what I believe is a new question for time travel: the Cumulative Paradox. If many time travlers through the centuries go back to a fixed point in space and time (say the Crucifixion), why doesn't the historical record show thousands of people at an event instead of a few.

Silverberg has a broad knowledge of history (he's written several non-fiction books on history) so it's no surprise that he's able to bring history alive as well as his Time Courier protagonist who carefully arranges the order and length of time jumps he shows his charges. Silverberg, with brief passages, brings history alive. And he knows what kind of things people me want to see in history: assassinations (including Huey Long), plagues (there's a special Black Plague tour), riots, revolts.

So, I expected the history to be well-done, but I didn't expect such clever variations on the time travel theme, and I certainly didn't expect the light, breezy style and comedy -- most of it being of the sexual farce variety. If this novel were filmed, it could be a porn movie with the sex scenes in it (in the text there's not that much explicit sex. Amongst the many things SIlverberg has written is porn, so that adds an extra punch to the sexcapades of the hero (including a not so great, rather mechanical session, with the infamously rapacious Theodora) who concludes there's a lot of truth to the notion that "jazzing one snatch" is much like "jazzing" another. Our hero, Judson Daniel Elliott III, also says, self-mockingly, sex with love with his ancestor Pulcheria is better than sex without love.

It's not only a plenitude of sex that marks this as a late sixties book but a plenitude of drugs. The sex is mostly heterosexual but homosexuality is mentioned. A case of child molestation is integral to the plot. A major mention is madeof race relations. (Here a black named Sambo Sambo befriends Elliott -- who he describes as a loser. Sam feels sorry in a pitiful way for Elliott when he screws up by duplicating himself temporally and incurs the fatal wrath of the Time Police, so he gets him a job as a Time Courier. The element of race is played up in some witty repartee between Jew Elliott and Sam. Sam is also a product of genetic purification of black genes. There is some element of Black Pride with Sam's life in Africa. Another element of the sexual farce is Elliott watching himself -- with first cold terror, then clinical detachment at the comic, rather grotesque sight -- copulate. Synaesthia -- experimental subject of some 50's and sixties' sf -- shows up here.

Silverberg manages a clever ending with Elliott just waiting for the Time Patrol to catch on to his temporal sins, and then he vanishes into never existence in mid-sentence. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Jan 19, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Silverbergprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kirkland, PhilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tinkelman, MurrayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walotsky, RonCover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Anne McCaffrey, a friend in deed
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Sam the guru was a black man, and his people up the line had been slaves - and before that, kings.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743444973, Paperback)

Being a Time Courier was one of the best jobs Judson Daniel Elliott III ever had. It was tricky, though, taking group after group of tourists back to the same historic event without meeting yoruself coming or going. Trickier still was avoiding the temptation to become intimately involved with the past and interfere with events to come. The deterrents for any such actions were frighteningly effective. So Judson Daniel Elliott played by the book. Then he met a lusty Greek in Byzantium who showed him how rules were made to be broken...and set him on a family-history-go-round that would change his past and his future forever!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:39 -0400)

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