Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: Time's Last Gift by Philip Jose Farmer

Time's Last Gift is, above all, a quick and interesting read. I feel the need to get that statement out of the way first, because while I liked the general idea of this novel[la], I'm not so sure I cared for the book as a whole. Quite often the writing style seemed overly simplistic, and considering that this is a reprint I must say that the number of typographical errors was unfortunately high enough to be seriously distracting.

To return to my thoughts on the story itself, though, while Gribardsun's character was certainly well-written, at times the other three time travelers - especially von Billman - seemed to be simply "filler" characters. Of course, in my opinion the use of filler material was the only thing that made Time's Last Gift a novel when it really could - and probably should - have been a short story.

That said, the time travel and anthropological ideas that appear in Time's Last Gift are definitely the best developed aspects of the book and make it worth a read in and of themselves. As for the edition that I read - the new Titan Books release - I highly recommend it, especially for first-time readers of Farmer. The Afterward and the Timeline included at the end of the book (along with the Epilogue, which was not in the very first publication of Time's Last Gift) are definitely worthy additions and, for me at least, went a long way toward opening up the "Wold Newton Universe" that Time's Last Gift is a part of.

In conclusion, while I would rate the book/story only about 2/5 stars, if you are a Farmer fan or if you are interested in time travel novels I say give it a try and take away your own opinion :)

"Men today were only ordinary men...weaklings and poor-spirited. They didn't make men like they did in the old days."

"'Time is something man will never comprehend...Partly because Time is outside man. Man is, of course, partly in Time, but there are elements of Time that are completely exterior to him. He can't even see those elements and never will because they can't be put under the microscope or telescope or be detected by radiation-sensitive equipment.'"

"'The thing to do is to enjoy Time as much as you can...Live as the beasts do. From day to day. If you think of the end of Time, that is, of your own death, accept it as part of Time. You can do nothing about it, so why worry about it?'"

"'Most human beings seem to go wrong in one way or another to a greater or lesser degree. They're much less stable than animals, and this instability is the price humans pay for their sentience and their complicated emotional system. Self-consciousness and the power of speech are requisites, though not the only ones, for progress in man. But man pays for his greater potentiality by a greater vulnerability to imbalance.'" Pin It

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