Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mercenary by Mack Reynolds (free)

free eBook Mercenary by Mack Reynolds
free eBook Mercenary by Mack Reynolds
"Every status-quo-caste society in history has left open two roads to rise above your caste: The Priest
and The Warrior. But in a society of TV and tranquilizers—the Warrior acquires a strange new meaning...."

That quote is the first line of the free eBook from Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org, and probably a blurb from the back cover or an ad for the book. I added it because it is a nice summary and it truly describes the feel of the story. Mercenary was written in the early 60s and it has a bit of that 50s square hair, martini totting vibe typical in books of that era. I do not typically like those sorts of books and the first few pages of Mercenary had me worried; however, I ended up really getting into this book, once it got going.

The story is an alternate history where society is based on a caste system and large corporations settle disputes through fighting a small war called a Fracas. These Fracases are fought under strict rules limiting the equipment used to 1900 technology and they are televised. These battles are a major source of entertainment for the general public who, at least the lower castes, watch them via TV while high on a drug called "Trank".

Though Mercenary was written over 50 years ago, the premise of the story eliminates detailed descriptions of science and technology and limits opportunities for the characters to exhibit chauvinistic attitudes towards women, and I feel it is very readable today. The main character Joe Mauser has a little of the handsome, confident hero who always knows what to do prevalent in 50s and 60s sci-fi, but it is kept to a minimum. The caste based society premise helps with this a little. The hero, Joe, was born with a low status which makes everything he has to do more difficult if not impossible, somewhat limiting his ability to be a superman.

The Plot

The story follows veteran fighter Joe Mauser as he joins, and fights for, the underdog in a fracas. He has a non-conventional idea to win this battle and hopes, if he can implement it successfully, that it will greatly improve his status. He has a history of taking chances like this to climb in society and has been successful in the past. He Started life as a Mid-Lower and then literally fought his way to High-Lower and finally to Low-Middle where we meet him. In the coming battle, he hopes to jump two levels to Low-High, through a twist on the rules he has worked out in advance. However the conservative command structure in the company he joins may make this impossible.

I do not want to give away more than that as the plot is pretty basic and the few surprises should be surprises. Mr. Reynolds describes the people and their lives at the various levels of society, and the interactions between them, very well and it made the book fun to read. For instance, Joe starts with one selfish goal, but we see him change a over the course of the book. I am not sure if this was a conscious goal for the story but it made the main character click for me, even though he is a bit of that perfect hero type of the era. I thought the premise was pretty original too, and was surprised that I had never read anything written since that had similar themes. It is highly possible that there is a whole genre like this, however, and only I am unaware of it. This was a fun read for me anyway.

This book is not a great book but good and super readable today. With very little modification, it could be a contemporary work and I think it would make a pretty good movie, actually. Also it is a free eBook so, really, the only cost is time and since I was looking to kill some time with a book, I was not disappointed at all with Mercenary. Gutenberg says it was published in Analog in April of 1962 as Mercenary and then later as Mercenary From Tomorrow in novel format, and I am assuming the two versions are the same as the free eBook from Gutenberg seems complete and about short novel length. It also says this is the First book of Mack Reynolds' Joe Mauser series. The 2nd book of the series is also available at Gutenberg and I will read that one pretty soon and do an entry on it if good. The link to the second free ebook is included in the links below, if interested.

Free eBook download:

More info about the book and Mack Reynolds:

I will be trying the next book in this series soon (also a free eBook at Gutenberg):
 The Earth War, 1963. Reprint of "Frigid Fracas."  Mack Reynolds

Friday, September 1, 2017

Interstellar Railroad series by Felix Savage

free ebook Rubbish With Names

While there is a free eBook included in this series, not all of these are a free eBook, but rather most are an inexpensive eBook from an independent author. Felix Savage is an independent author and
Felix publishes and sells eBooks exclusively though Amazon. These types of eBooks are often much cheaper than offerings from the big publishers, though many times an independent author is just starting out and even the low price can seem like a bad deal. Not so with Felix Savage! Felix has been in the writing game a while and worked out the kinks long before writing the Interstellar Railroad series. While most of these are merely an inexpensive ebook, I would not have regretted paying more.

The series consists of 4 books (not a free eBook but an inexpensive ebook) and a prequel to the series (actually a free eBook), written later. The actual series name is: The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad.

The books in the series are:

(inexpensive ebooks)
Vol. 1: Skint Idjit
Vol. 2: Intergalactic Bogtrotter
Vol. 3: Banjaxed Ceili
Vol. 4: Supermassive Blackguard

(free eBooks, well a free eBook anyway)
prequel: Rubbish With Names

Each eBook costs $2.99 except the prequel which a free eBook if you http://felixrsavage.com/free-books/  sign up for this independent author's email list.

I really liked these books. The story is original, funny, and exciting. The characters and alien settings are fun and interesting, and it has a lot of action. The whole thing really resonated with me. The premise for the series is that, in the future, a sort of faster than light pathway suddenly appeared near Earth. Once Earth figured out what it was, and how to access it, they found it connects habitable planets throughout the galaxy. Ships attach to the path, sort of like a train on rails and so it is called The Interstellar Railroad. Explorers on this interstellar railway find the remnants of alien cultures, though no aliens remain alive in the portions of the galaxy explored when the series starts. However, they do find alien technology and the hunt for alien technology, or A-Tech as it is referred to in the series, is a thriving business. There are independent explorers, groups funded by large corporations, the mob, and pirates, all looking for the A-Tech find of the century. Our main character, the very Irish, Fletcher Connolly, and he, along with his dysfunctional friends, family and crew-mates, is in the A-Tech search game. Fletch is confident, smart and resourceful, but he has the worst luck, the worst friends and crew, and he has to contend with his homicidal piratical, and also very Irish, uncle throughout. This eclectic mix of associates produces crazy situations for Fletch and each book in the series highlights one such A-Tech misadventure.

I liked all four books in this short series, and it is short, consisting of just the 4 books and the free eBook prequel. Many independent authors create one series or "universe" and then write an endless amount of books in it. However, Felix Savage usually keeps a series short and this one is probably the shortest so far. I found the length perfect, though after the last book, I was ready to read more of it. I never felt like I was reading something from an independent author while reading these. I am surprised actually that Felix Savage is an independent author. I feel Felix's work is definitely worthy of a large publisher's attention.

The Characters

Fletcher (Fletch) Connolly - A-Tech hunter with terrible luck (I heard a lucky man makes his luck) and the main character. He is an Irish A-Tech scout who dreams of owning his own planet. He is always on the lookout for the A-Tech find of the century, however things never seem to go his way. His girlfriend is a sometimes traitor, his friends are often competitors, his uncle usually takes anything Fletch does find, either as a pirate or as a police officer, leaving him with nothing but debt and his true friends have worse luck than he does.

Donal O’Leary - Fletcher's long time friend and sometimes their ship captain, sometimes a partner in crime is a main character throughout the series.

Finian Connolly - Fletcher's violent heavy Metal pirate uncle, who at times is Fletch's competitor, sometimes his boss, sometimes a fellow explorer, sometimes a nemesis as a police officer, and always a family member.

Harriet - Donal's actual girlfriend a main character in the series

Ruby - One of the original member of Donal's crew who ends up being a spy, a trans, a Stacker, a loyal friend and a main character in the series

Penelope - Attractive, moody, into BSDM, Donal's official girlfriend in the early books, and a Stacker. A Stacker? Fletch has this to say about Stackers in the first book:
"... she is a stacker. This technology we human beings developed all by our little selves, before the Railroad came along. Actually it’s a collection of technologies and practices—nootropics, prep schools, chips implanted in your brain, assortative marriage, prebirth genetic screening—they stack all these things together, and the end result is they’re so much smarter than the rest of us, they’re basically a different species.
Some scientists say they’ve already diverged from the rest of us. They’ve got better genes.
So what do stackers do with their great brains?
The usual:
Manage hedge funds
Work as consultants
Get useless degrees in the humanities
Run governments
Reverse-engineer A-tech
Raise the next generation of stackers
And when they’re bored of all that …
Operate spaceships"

Imogen - A sometimes space taxi driver, pilot, and mobster, she joins many of Feltcher's adventures, and is usually Fletcher's love interest. She also works for others and herself and we are never exactly sure who's side she is on.

Sam - The son of the infamous pirate Special Delivery Sam (who is Sam's mother actually) is a sometimes enemy, sometimes unknown and sometimes loyal friend to Fletch and his crew

The Interstellar Railroad - an A-tech artifact, possibly made of pure energy, that folds spacetime and allows ships using it to travel faster than the speed of light. It is called a railroad as it is shaped like railroad tracks or a ladder. The railroad is maintained by things called Gandy Dancers, which are humanoid in appearance but seem to only be a sort of automation. Nobody knows who created the interstellar railroad or if it continues outside our galaxy.

A-Tech - Alien Technology that everyone hopes to find and reverse engineer. Here is an A-Tech related quote by Fletch, in book #1, regarding why he can enjoy a cold drink on a hot alien planet that sums up A-Tech well:
"Some lucky bastard discovered an alien corpse that was still cold to the touch, despite reposing on a planet whose sun had expanded into a red giant. The body bag on that corpse proved to be reverse-engineerable, and said lucky bastard now has his own planet. That’s all it would take. One little tiny find that isn’t shite."

The Ghost Train - The Ghost Train rides the Interstellar Railroad and comes by our part of the Orion arm every two years. It stops at some planets and waits a a couple of days, possibly waiting for passengers. However, nobody knows anything about the train or where it goes. Some adventurous types have boarded the train but nobody has ever returned. Fletch describes its appearance as:
"It’s the size of several oil tankers joined end to end, clamped onto the Interstellar Railroad with a thousand chain dogs, like a silver caterpillar on an infinitely long twig."

The books (each a free eBook or inexpensive eBook)

All of the books' titles are prefixed with: "The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad:" and then have individual names as well as a number except the first one chronologically, "Rubbish With Names", which was written later (I think) as a prequel.

free ebook
Rubbish With Names
Book #0 Rubbish With Names (a free eBook prequel)
 I read this after finishing the series, but I think I would have enjoyed it as a starting place too, as it
introduces main characters and technology of the series and provides background that would have helped when reading the books. This book doesn't deal with the Interstellar Railroad or A-Tech hunting much, if at all, but follows Fletcher Connolly, his long time friend Donal O’Leary, his girlfriend Penelope and other main characters of the series on a job on a colonized alien world. The job includes picking up a, supposedly Cryogenically-preserved, dead body for a client. However, the body turns out not to be frozen and of interest to the mob, so we get a story of Fletch trying to find out what is special about the body while keeping from the mob and not letting it decompose too much. I really liked this short, and as I said it is a perfect starting place for the short series.

Book #1 Skint Idjit (an inexpensive eBook)
inexpensive ebook Skint Idjit
Working for his long time friend Donal O’Leary, Fletcher Connolly and crew are thrown off the Interstellar Railroad due to an accident, which is partly their fault. The ship is damaged and they land on a planet, they name Suckass, for repairs. They do a little A-Tech scouting while waiting for the crew to fix the ship and have to escape from some strange and dangerous creatures. They do find some A-Tech but while trying to capitalize on it end up in a battle between two pirate factions and and crashed a second time. This was a fun book, full of monsters, pirates, Heavy Metal Pirates, space battles, spies, traitors, alien stuff, Irish-ness, smart ass, and comedy. While I feel the later books are better, I still really liked the characters and premise, and it made me want to continue the series.

Book #2 Intergalactic Bogtrotter (an inexpensive eBook)
inexpensive ebook
Intergalactic Bogtrotter
After a failed A-Tech hunt, where Donal looses the Skint Idjit, what remains of the old crew, plus Fletch's sometimes girlfriend Imogen, accept a job from Fletch's pirate uncle Finian. They head out onto the interstellar railroad hauling supplies for one of Finian's endeavors, which is probably a mission to settle a grudge between Finian and his old rival, another pirate, called Special Delivery Sam. As the supply ship of Finian's fleet they are last in line for everything and entrusted with only the most important duties like locating the fleet's barbecue grill. Eventually there is a space battle and Fletch et al are attacked by Special Delivery Sam's gang and forced off the railroad. They crash land on a barren planet that is a drift in space and find domed city like structures left behind by, of course, dead aliens. A-Tech? Possibly. More Pirates? Likely. Fun? Definitely!

Book #3 Banjaxed Ceili (an inexpensive eBook)
inexpensive ebook
Banjaxed Ceili
Fletch realizes that playing by the rules will not win him his own planet, and to save himself and his friends, he decides to "liberate" an A-tech artefact called The Gizmo of Rejuvenation from those better off than himself. This heist does not go well, of course, and Fletch must save his friends and and a one-time enemy from shady corporations, Biomodders an extreme saleswoman, his uncle, and the police while trying to salvage the something from the robbery. In this book we also get to see a little of The Ghost Train, which is a major character in the next book. While the plot is super simple, this book was a roller-coaster ride from beginning to end and I really enjoyed the 3rd book and I think it is my 2nd favorite of the series; book #4 was the best for me.

Book #4 Supermassive Blackguard (an inexpensive eBook)
inexpensive ebook
Supermassive Blackguard
GHOST TRAIN!!! Yes, in this one we finally get to see what it is like on The Ghost Train. After their heist goes does not turn out as well as they hoped, Fletch, his love interest, an old enemy, and his uncle Finian, end up on the infamous Ghost Train. Here they meet a new character Caleb Dunhill from Roswell Texas, and a couple Gandy Dancers. They are all stuck together on the train as it speeds towards the center of the galaxy and we get to see a lot of fun alien technology while tension builds between the eclectic crew, in spite of the enormity of the train. Their trip is full of adventure and danger both on and off the ship but the destination, it's the grand finale, really made the book for me. We meet a lot of aliens, hunt for A-Tech and Sam's long lost father, and ultimately have a of a showdown with the fate of humanity at stake via a pub quiz in the bar of the Nursing Home at the Core of the Galaxy. It is crazy, absurd, and totally out there, but I loved every bit of this one and it left me sad when it was over.

Felix says there will be another story written in this "universe" and while I don't like long series, in this case, I hope it happens.

Book links (mostly Amazon and a free eBook or an inexpensive eBook)

The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad: Rubbish With Names (free eBook)
(sign up for the author's mailing list and you get three free books, including the prequel for this series; all of which are good)

The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad Vol. 1: Skint Idjit (inexpensive eBook)

The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad Vol. 2: Intergalactic Bogtrotter (inexpensive eBook)

The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad Vol. 3: Banjaxed Ceili (inexpensive eBook)

The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad Vol. 4: Supermassive Blackguard (inexpensive eBook)

Author's website (where you can get other free eBooks from this independent author):

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt (free)

Free ebook The Moon Pool by A. Merritt
This is a review of another free ebook that is available at Gutenberg, and probably any other free ebook repository as it is in the public domain. The book was written by Abraham Merritt and originally published in All Story Weekly in two parts, in 1918 and 1919.

It is written, by Abraham Merritt, as a "true" account of incidents reported by an organization calling themselves: "Executive Council of the International Association of Science" and they say they contracted Abraham Merritt to rewrite the notes of Dr. Goodwin so they can be understood by the layman.

The Plot

The story centers around 4 main characters: A scientist, Dr. Goodwin (main character), a Dr. David Throckmartin, his wife, and their associate Dr. Charles Stanton. who have supernatural experiences and visit a lost civilization deep underground.

It starts when Dr. Goodwin meets his friend Throckmartin on a boat and they share a supernatural experience with some sort of moon energy thing, and Throckmartin shares a story of his previous research trip to a remote location in the Pacific, where it seems he lost his wife and Dr. Stanton. The thing they saw is said to use moonlight to operate and is searching for Throckmartin.

In Throckmartin's tale, The group, including Throckmartin, stumbled into the area of a thing they call The Moon Rock, which hid an entrance to something underground. This rock reacts as if electrified when touched and they suspect it is a door of a sort though to what they do not know. They all have some sort of strange experience at that location. Later, one of the team disappears from camp, and they find part of her handkerchief stuck under the edge of the Moon Rock. So they know it is a door, and suspect their friend was taken thorough it. They try to open it but are unsuccessful, and suspect it opens only at night. They decide to wait for night, in hopes it will open as it did before. The door opens but they are unsuccessful due to more supernatural stuff happening and they loose Stanton. They plan to wait the next night, and this time Throckmartin is successful getting in. He sees the Moon Pool inside and he is just in time to see his wife taken into the pool by a supernatural phenomenon (floating lights). Throckmartin then escapes the Moon Pool cave, and eventually out too sea in a small boat, where he was picked up by the large boat Goodwin was on. Shortly thereafter the moon lights take Throckmartin from the boat.

Goodwin decides to go after Throckmartin and the others. He gets a boat and coincidently finds an old acquaintance named Olaf Huldricksson tied to floating wreckage of a boat, who lost his wife and daughter to the same lights and was half crazy from the experience. They then find even more wreckage in the sea, this time a hydro-airplane, and its pilot Larry O'Keefe. Thus, the little band of adventures is gathered and off to the Moon Door and behind it the Moon Pool.

I am not going to give away much more of the plot and ruin it. From here, in the world beyond the Moon Pool, the heroes encounter supernatural beings, and a lost civilization and eventually fight a battle between good and evil that threatens the entire world.

The plot is a sort of old timey lost civilization adventure / fantasy story, in the style of Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, or Edgar Rice Burroughs. Though, since it is set in the time it is written in, and takes place mostly in a lost underground civilization, it does not have much in it to date it. It reminds me of watching an old adventure moving like King Kong. In that movie, we know they are in 1933, or there abouts, though once we are in the jungle, the story is mostly about man against nature, without too much reliance on any sort of technology to date it.

The story is crazy, but engaging and fun. The characters are interesting and some are super intense. I cared about the characters and always wanted to know what was going to happen next; I was totally hooked once I got into it. There are a lot of spooky moments, and even some very creepy things, even by todays standards, and especially for the period when it was written. Over all it is a good book, not a great book but good. I liked Mr. Merritt's follow up called The Metal Monster better but still I am glad I read this one. It is available as a free ebook after all so I cannot complain of course. I may have said this in other reviews but I must reiterate that to find a good free ebook like this one, I had to read many that I do not want to remember or write about. Some were not worth the cost in time and some may have scarred me for life. To find these gems I have suffered at the hands of even good authors like Manly Wade and Doc E Smith, and worst of all for my sanity there were a few bad/terrible ones form my favs Andre Norton and Rider Haggard. I will not review books on this blog that I cannot recommend as, like I said, I do not want to remember them and they are not worth my time, or the reader's, even if they were a free ebook.

I had never heard of Abraham Merritt, but tried to get more of his work as soon as I finished this. Gutenberg have one other book of his, the follow up to the Moon Pool called The Metal Monster. The Metal Monster is only a follow up to The Moon Pool, in that it also has Dr. Goodwin as one of the main characters, and the events of that book are not really related to the events of the Moon Pool. I will write a review for The Metal Monster later. That is also a great tale.

I definitely plan to read more of Mr. Merritt's work. I wish there were more free ones out there. Gutenberg Australia have others available but these are not public domain books in all countries.

Free eBook Download at Gutenberg:


Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Jewels of Aptor by Samuel Delany (free)

Review free eBook The Jewels of Aptor
This is of an old sci-fi / fantasy novel by Samuel R. Delany, and it was originally published in 1962. It is in the public domain and available as a free ebook; there is a link to this book at Gutenberg at the bottom of the post.

This story has an interesting premise but a slow, and confusing plot. I included Mr. Delany's book because it does have some interesting aspects and I am glad I chose to read it. The premise is pretty interesting and there are settings, situations and creatures that I really liked.

It's set in a post-apocalyptic future where people live very primitive lives and trade by sailing ships. There are legends and myths about technology and science the ancients had and speculation about what happened, though access to concrete information is controlled by religious groups. These cults horde the remaining technology and use it to control their people though, even these think of most science and technology as magic. There are also a lot of mutants and creatures, possibly the result of radiation from nuclear wars, though that is never discussed. It was the description of ruined cities and the creatures that inhabit them that kept me interested enough to finish the book. As and example, a ways into the story, the main characters come to an island, or other land across the sea, and stumble on ruins of civilization. I had actually forgotten we were supposed to be in a post-apocalyptic situation by this point and was surprised; the ruins and their discovery were described well. In this same area, they also come into another ruined city and face remote controlled Zombies and a sort of blob of energy thing and all of that was really done well.

The Plot

The plot is confusing and thin in places, though it may be the version that Gutenberg has is to fault. The Wikipedia page for The Jewels of Aptor mentions there was a better version released in 1968:

"From the 1968 edition onwards, Delany's original text has been restored, as the first edition was shortened by about fifteen pages for publication in the Ace Double format."
quoted from [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jewels_of_Aptor]

This review is of the free eBook that Gutenberg currently has available, though I will look for other free eBook sites to find the 1968 version, when I have time. I will update this post if I find it.

The book starts with a grim experience an anonymous girl has, all of which will not be explained or related to the story in anyway until much later, but it sets the tone okay I guess and it did hook me. We then meet the maim characters, a 4 armed mute boy, a seemingly supernatural woman, a poet, a tough guy and a gang of sailors. Some of them have just returned from a voyage chartered by the woman, which cost them a lot of men, and they are planning to set out to the same place again to rescue the woman's younger sister (this seems like the pre-68 story based on just this). The lady also wants a jewel the cult holding her sister are likely to have, though her exact motives are never clear. The woman decides she needs the mute mutant, and poet along and gets the poet's large tough friend as a bonus. Nobody involved want to go on this trip but they all agree and head off. Once they get to the land they seek, they start to get involved with two religious groups that are competing for technology or people or something, though it is never really clear what either side hope to accomplish. But our heroes do their best to rescue this girl and the jewel, and have many adventures along the way. I do not want to give away too much or the book will not be fun at all, so I will not relate any more of the plot; it is a pretty thin plot. The story sort of works because, even though it is in a future setting and written in the 60s, the author does not try to explain details of what is now out-dated technology or science. Instead he has the characters treat science and technology as magic or the supernatural. The few cases where he does explain how some device works or deals with something like radiation, it is really bad though. The ending is abrupt and a bit anticlimactic though, at least in the edition that Gutenberg has available. I will have to hunt down the revised book with the original ending to see if it ties things up better than this one.

The bottom line is that the book has some redeeming qualities and I think is worth a read. It is a free ebook so it only cost in time. If you are trying to kill time, this book will help you do it, and entertain you from time to time. I am not sorry I read it, as some aspects were really well done, though it is not a masterpiece of Science Fiction for sure.

Free eBook Download at Gutenberg:

Misc. links for more information:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Time Traders by Andre Norton (free)

Review of eBook The Time Traders by Andre Norton

This story is very readable in 2017, though it was originally published in 1958. The author's use of technology found by the protagonists and ancient settings, enables her to step around technical and scientific details that will not hold up over time. The characters can use the alien technology they find but they do not necessarily understand how it works, and therefore cannot try to explain it. The other books in this series, that I have read, share this trait, though The Time Traders book has the most contemporary feel. This book is a favorite of mine, and was actually the catalyst for this blog. I am always looking for a public domain books that I can download a free ebook of that are comparable to the stories being written today.

Gutenberg is probably the largest collection of public domain works so this is, of course, my main resource. Gutenberg, though, has maybe too many books, and I have had to read a lot of silliness to get to gems like this. For this reason, this book is one of my greatest treasures. I hope you like it too.

 The Plot:

Ross, a tough and sharp criminal, is recruited for a secret government project. Initially Ross sees the project as a chance to escape but once he meets the team, and it's leader Ashe, and gets first hand experience with the danger and importance of their mission, he commits whole heartedly. Soon, Ross is trained to live as a Beaker trader of Bronze-Age Europe and, using found alien technology, sent back in time. In these stories, both the USA and the USSR have found ancient alien spacecraft on earth and have start to reverse-engineer the technology. These ships are not in good condition and they cannot get much from them, however both sides created limited time-travel abilities from what remained. The Russians progress is better than the US and they suspect the Russians have access to better specimens in the past, specifically Bronze-Age Europe. The US has therefore been sending agents back in time to locate this cache of technology and our anti-hero is sent back to join the team. Agents stationed back in time work very hard to blend in and keep their existence secret from the inhabitants, so their search is generally slow and tedious. However, Ross and Ashe arrive at a momentous time, and things get hot for them pretty quickly.

I do not want to give away any more of the plot than this. The whole story is good and because most of the action takes place in the past, with sticks and stones, and due to Andre's wonderful use of found alien technology, the story never feels dated. The characters are well developed and made me care about them, even the minor characters. The main characters interact with many groups of people in the current time (relevant to when the book was published I guess) and in the past and all of these are also well described and interesting. There is suspense and some good action as well. I feel this book would make a very nice contemporary movie actually. However, Andre Norton is a little obscure today, unfortunately, and I imagine Hollywood are not looking at her work. At least we readers can enjoy it, and as a free ebook as well; I guess we should be grateful for that.

Free eBook Download at Gutenberg:

Misc. links for more information: