Timescoop by John Brunner (1969)

October 8th, 2009

Timescoop is a much more lighthearted and fun book to read than the last few by Brunner. It was written in 1969 and I am guessing that John was able to get a hold on some good drugs and worked his way out of the mid sixties funk that he was in.

The story is about a multimillionaire that finances the invention of machine that can go back in time and take a temporal slice out of anything and bring it back to our time. He starts out with the statue of the Hermes of Praxiteles that was a copied just as Praxiteles completed it.

As Brunner points out, the statue is as bad as a fake, because it does not have the patina of age or the scarcity implied by its provenance. It is merely a copy, even though, atom for atom it is the original as it appeared 2400 years ago.

The millionaire then gets the conceit to bring back his most illustrious ancestors from the past. This provides the comedy as each of the ancestors is a product of his or her own age and each is deeply flawed in their own way. It turns out that the millionaire is not even related to most of them. His genealogical tree seems to have a large number of cuckolded husbands.

There is a party to introduce the ancestors and it is a total fiasco. It results in utter humiliation and even a murder.

I wound up reading more than 50 pages each day on my 40 minute bus drive, in spite of the bouncy ride and screeching brakes. The book is 50k longer than the earlier books I’ve been reading, but it seems short. I don’t know yet how it will end as I have about 20 pages to go for the bus ride home. I am looking forward to it.

Timescoop is recommended.

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