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I mentioned in my review of A RIP THROUGH TIME that this was one of my favorite time travel themed novels, so I decided to haul it out for a reread and post. Published in 1976, the cover art was by the brothers Hildebrandt. The other edition I have is the English edition from 1985.

It’s 2032 and the country is in control of the World Ecumenical Church, a fringe cult that grew, taking a few elections, expanding, getting one elected as President, then a manufactured emergency got the Constitution “temporarily” suspended until order was restored.

Order never seemed to get restored.

The President is a figurehead, the country controlled from New Jerusalem, formerly Chicago, where the founder, “The Anointed One,” grew up. Threats of nuclear war and biologics had allowed Mexico and Canada to be annexed.

The Proctors were the secret police, the Lay Brothers of St. Wilson the enforcement arm. Blueshirts they were called. And hated.

Our hero, Dr. Eugene Stillman, is a scholar and a chronalnaut, one of those that use the time machine to record historical events. The Crucifixion had been recorded, as had been Martin Luther nailing his articles to the Catholic Church door. Stillman was an expert in Shakespeare and was headed back to observe the man.

There was an underground, The Cell, that wanted to overturn the WEC and restore the Constitution. Stillman didn’t like things as they were, but he was a loyal, law-abiding citizen.

Until he met a young woman named Melanie.

Beautiful and, despite her VV badge, for victorious virgin, was a hot-blooded young woman he began an affair with. She soon revealed she was a member of the Cell and wanted his help. He wasn’t interested, but she could be persuasive. They had got hold of a copy of the Anointed One’s mother’s diary, knew the history that no one else did, and wanted him to kill the mother while she was just a few weeks into her pregnancy. They had dates and everything.

Once he arrived in Shakespeare’s time, he would have control of the chronalcage and could go where he wanted.

He was still unsure about changing time.

But when a Proctor and a band of blueshirts broke into the lab just as the countdown was started to arrest him and Melanie, he hit the emergency downtime button.

And so began his odyssey, a chase through time from prehistoric times to Chicago at various dates, and the folly of trying to change time.

The book held up on this reread after thirty-five years.

I don’t know much about how the publishing world, then or now, but these two editions, published nine years apart, seem to have been set with the same “plates(I’m not sure about the nomenclature).” They have the same number of pages, all chapters begin and end on the same page numbers, and the type is the same. That seems unusual to me. In my experience with the same book, American and British editions, is that the British has always had less pages.

I don’t know.

As on last Friday, Todd Mason is doing host duties this week.

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