Book Report: Twice in Time by Manly Wade Wellman (1988)

Back in my eBay seller days, I bought a first edition hardback written by Manly Wade Wellman at a garage sale for next to nothing and sold it for quite a bit of scratch. So when I found another paperback by the author and tried to turn that one for some bucks. No dice. So I still have it, and here it is. So much on my to read shelves follows this pattern (see also the Chronicles of Counter Earth series and numerous Stephen King and John Saul titles). So it’s here, and now it’s read.

Manly Wade Wellman was an author in the science fiction pulps. This book includes a novel originally published in 1940 (the eponymous Twice in Time) and a bonus short story called “The Timeless Tomorrow”. It also has a brief introduction, which I thought I’d read, but I got to the point where it said “If you like surprise endings, don’t read any further.” I mean, come on, you’re going to give me the ultimate twist in the introduction because you take this author seriously as literature enough to strip that enjoyment from readers? Where does that mean you fall on the self-esteem scale, or where do you think the audience does?

So I stopped reading it, but I knew there was a surprise twist coming, so I figured out the surprise fairly early. I don’t know if I would have otherwise, but the names and the very cover gave the game away.

A modern (ca 1940) man builds a time reflector to go back to Renaissance Florence. He does and falls into the clutches of an ambitious courtier who wants to use his new “friend” in his lust for power. Together under duress, they take on the d’Medicis.

The additional short story also deals with time travel, as Nostradamus learns he cannot only see the future, but can participate in it.

The writing style is the simplistic of the pulps, but without the transcendence of Hemingway or Hammett. It reminds me of much of my early fiction and probably too much of my contemporary fiction, probably. It’s not bad, but the not bad is not a synonmym for good. And it’s really not worth an introduction that talks about the book as though it was a literary triumph with which everyone is familar, even if they haven’t read it.

That said, click the link below to buy it and send me a couple pennies for my effort.

Books mentioned in this review: