Book Report: The Time-Hoppers by Robert Silverberg (1967)

Book coverThis book is a short science fiction book by Robert Silverberg, whose Three Survived I have previously reviewed.

Within this book, a future cop in a distant, overpopulated future has an illicit second home in the only uncrowded part of the world and fears discovery when he’s given a tough assignment: investigate the “time hoppers,” people who find an illegal operation that sends them from the crowded present into a free past. As he investigates and worries about the political expectations. his own brother-in-law considers the trip.

The book jumps between different characters in different situations in this world, from the cop to his sister in a lower caste than he to one of the two leaders of the omnipresent government to the brother-in-law to the cop’s underling who is blackmailing his superior for his distant getaway. One would expect there might be some in-book time travel involved, but it takes place mostly in the future.

It’s an interesting bit, an enjoyable little read from the era–the middle 1960s through, what, the 1980s? where the future is dystopian and overcrowded and the plots are novel and clever. Perhaps I’m siloed a bit in reading the blogs of writers of science fiction subgenres these days, where the stories are a bit more predictable and follow the plots of something that would make a good video game. I confess I read a number of novels written from video games and movies, so my perspective is probably skewed. But I get a definite sense of a book that’s been written in the middle of the 20th century that I don’t get from novels from the 1980s on. Perhaps it’s just the length that cues me in–this one clocks in at 182 pages, half or less of a modern book. Also, the author has read other books. Allusions from classical literature and history flow throughout. They’re not necessary for the reading and enjoyment of the book, but they do serve to pat the well-read reader on the head for all his or her previous reading. I need that.

But I really enjoy this short books from the middle of the last century more than thicker later pieces. Maybe I’m just impatient.

At any rate, I liked the book and I like Silverberg.

Books mentioned in this review:

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