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Timestop! (1960)

by Philip José Farmer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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I had it in my mind Farmer was one of those off-beat sf authors of the 1960s and 1970s who never scored big but produced interesting work nonetheless. We’ve all heard of Riverworld, and despite a reread a few years ago of To Your Scattered Bodies Go not exactly impressing, the concept seems to be “high” enough to keep interest in Farmer’s works alive. Sadly, his reputation doesn’t seem to stand up to scrutiny. I’d previously read The Day of Timestop under the title A Woman a Day, because it was also republished by Beacon Books under that title, and I have the Beacon Books edition. Which I’ve not actually read yet – and, of course, it’s currently in storage. So, anyway, I bought the SF Gateway edition as it was cheap, but I was still robbed because this book is really bad. More than a thousand years in the future, after much of humanity was wiped out, the world has split into three main blocs – the religious Haijac Union, the Israeli Republics (because a US author has to promote Israel, even if he’s not Jewish) and I forget what the third one was. Oh, and Marcher, a neutral state in west Europe. The story takes place in the Haijac Union, specifically in Paris, where a Marcher agent has infiltrated the Haijac Union to the highest level – he’s a lamech-man, ie, beyond reproach, beyond suspicion, incorruptible, so pretty much how Tories see themselves despite all evidence to the contrary, you know, like letting kids starve over Christmas – but then Tories are scum – and while Farmer sets up his world with economy, it makes zero sense, and the plot which follows on from it makes even less. There’s a woman who’s an alien because she has some sort of organic battery wired to her vagina (really!), but then it turns out she’s not an alien. And there are some Bantu who have been literally whitewashed – “depigmentized” (really!) – and they’re some weird sort of hippy Christians, and the initials “JC” seem to refer to half a dozen messiahs – and the title actually refers to one of them, who is supposed to return from his time-travelling on the “Day of Timestop” to trigger Rapture for everyone in the Haijac Union. Everything in this book is wrong – the ideas are complete nonsense, the sensibilities are all over the place and not in a good way, the prose is functional at best, and if the story doesn’t go where you expect it to that’s because Farmer probably didn’t know himself where he was going. A book to avoid. ( )
  iansales | Nov 11, 2020 |
Some fairly average speculation on post-apocalyptic nations and societies combines with a below-average adventure to produce an entertaining but easy, undemanding read. This book is quite a bit below Farmer's usual niveau and talent and more in line with mass-market spy novels. ( )
  thkey | Feb 21, 2011 |
There's not much to be said for The Day of Timestop (also published under the title "A Woman a Day") beyond its value as a sort of historical curiosity. There are moments of entertaining storytelling and a couple of suprising plot twists, but these are too few and far between to justify wading through everything else. At least the details of the plentiful sex are left to our imagination.

The story starts with our protagonist raping an enemy agent sent to entrap him (but don't worry, it's for a good cause and besides she enjoys it). The book then proceeds to give us a pedestrian and gently hippyesque "underground struggle against a repressive post-apocalyptic dystopia" story, replete with gaping plot holes and logical disconnects, and adds in a Playboy generation plot gimmick hinging on, I kid you not, bioengineered super vaginas (i.e., to gain control over the impotent yet horny leaders of said repressive dystopian government) .

I could rail about the coincidences, the characters, and how these characters interact, but I am not sure it's really worth the effort. You've got to wonder how this book got published; I can only suspect that a dare and alcohol were involved. ( )
2 vote clong | Dec 5, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Farmer, Philip Joséprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McConnell, GeraldCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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