- Tapa dura: 144 páginas
- Editor: Wildside Press (30 de marzo de 2008)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 1434464709
- ISBN-13: 978-1434464705
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
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The Time Axis (Inglés) Tapa dura – 30 mar 2008
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Called to the end of time by a being known as The Face of Ea, four adventurers face a power that not even the science of that era could meet -- the nekron, negative matter, negative force, ultimate desctruction for everything it touched!
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Either by himself or with his wife, C.L. Moore, Kuttner was one of the great writers of classic science fiction. Even today, Kuttner's stories remain thought-provoking and thoughtful and worth reading. I count Kuttner's death at such an early age as one of the great tragedies of science fiction.
This book, however, is not one of Kuttner's great books. It is, altogether, a fairly mediocre representative of "super science" science fiction of the 1930s, which is strange because this book was written in 1949, after Kuttner had written many other classic stories. I suspect that this may have started out as a draft that Kuttner had lying around from the thirties, one of his early efforts, that he polished up and sent off to be published.
It has the undisciplined quality of an early effort. There is so much going on. The narrator, Jerry Cortland, has a run in with a strange force that is killing people in Buenos Aires. He returns to America and is enlisted by super-scientist, Ira De Kalb, to join a team with gray, aging Dr. Letta Essen, and Colonel Murray to journey into the future to fight the entity that has been released into our time. The journey involves going to the crossroads of magical ley lines in Canada to travel millions of years into the future the entity, called "the Nekron." Kuttner covers this explanation with pseudo-scientific bafflegab, and the reader is left to wonder how this works, since the four will apparently sleep in a sphere buried in the Laurentian mountains. De Kalb knows that these four will make the journey because when he discovers this magical place, he sees the four of them sleeping where they will sleep.
As time-travel devices, this is pretty slim.
The four go into the future a relatively short way, where they discover a technologically advanced civilization, and imitations of themselves. They do things at this time, which seem pretty pointless, except that aging, gray Dr. Essen is replaced by vital, younger Dr. Essen 2.0. They then go back into hibernation, and come out at their desired destination, where they find "the Face of Ea, and mystically fight the Nekron, which is a creature of pure death and negation from out of time and space.
So, time travel, evil entities from beyond time and space, reincarnation (of sorts), androids (in the future), magical ley lines...this story is far, far too busy, which speaks to my theory that it is the product of a younger writer, whose mind is brimming with ideas and no editorial control.
I found the "hidden" Lovecraft element fascinating. Kuttner was a friend of both H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith and wrote some stories int he Lovecraft Mythos in the 1930s. He met his wife, C.L. Moore, through a Lovecraft circle. The Nekron is archetypal Lovecraft creature - it is pure evil and from outside time and space.
Kuttner's opening line in this book is classic:
"THE WHOLE THING NEVER HAPPENED and I can prove it — now. But Ira De Kalb made me wait a billion years to write the story."
And, likewise, the ending:
"Well, all this belongs to the future. And so do I. Even before the cosmic cleavage altered all history I was a misfit in this civilization. And now it just isn’t my world anymore. I don’t belong here. So I think I’ll take my chances in that other place, where I won’t have to get used to the little things that keep bothering me here and bother nobody but me — Like Washington being the capital of the United States — now!"
I certainly wouldn't recommend this to anyone who hasn't read Kuttner's better works. Honestly, if this story had been written by anyone else, I would have given this story two stars, but I teel justified in giving three stars because Kuttner is a major influence on science fiction and this story is part of the legacy of a great writer.
The Time Axis is told from the first-person perspective of Jerry Cortland, a freelance journalist trying to escape his past in Brazil. There, he’s attacked by a strange being of pure energy—negative energy—which burns his hand, and gives him a brief glimpse of clarity. This creature is responsible for a growing number of murders, and the burn victims seem to center around Jerry. He’s contacted by scientists Ira De Kalb and Letta Essen, who reveal some shocking developments. De Kalb stumbled upon a puzzle-box from the far future, which gives flashes of realization and foretells The Face of Ea, the last city on Earth, besieged by a nekrotic plague of negative energy. That’s the same nekrotic being that burned Jerry, and those around him. Which was released, by accident, when Dr. De Kalb first opened the puzzle box. Now, the plague of nekrosis is growing: and as it does, it eats away at the fabric of time itself.
Still with me? Yeah, it’s a lot to wash down… and that’s just the first thirty pages or so. Some more development before I start reviewing. So, it turns out De Kalb’s stumbled upon another great revelation: time isn’t a linear path, but is closer to a rotating sphere, and its axis is in the Canadian Laurentians. Hoping to learn more about The Face of Ea—and save all of time—they collect a Colonel who’s at odds with Cortland and journey to the future. (There are reasons for everything, I’m trying to be terse.)
But not far enough into the future; Cortland awakes to find his companions have new names, new memories, don’t recognize Jerry, and have had functioning roles in society for all their lives. For example, De Kalb goes by the name of Belem, and is a telepathic Mechandroid, a kind of cyborg; he’s in the midst of a revolt—Belem and other rebels are trying to make a Super-Mechandroid, forbidden by the authorities for obvious reasons. (Nobody likes machines that make even smarter machines.) Can Jerry figure out what’s happening, pull the group together, and get the rest of the way to the Face of Ea? And if Cortland manages all that… can they stop the nekrosis?
If you haven’t guessed with all that setup, there’s a lot going on. This is a very complex work, almost frustratingly so; Kuttner isn’t charitable with his explanations, and the novel could benefit from clarity. Don’t worry, you are not alone: Jerry Cortland is often overwhelmed by the complexities thrown at him. A lot of the time, he doesn’t know what’s going on, and even when he gets explanations he isn’t given enough to work with. I feel for the guy, because I’m right there with him. So, an unnecessary level of complexity; that’s a problem. Here’s another. After getting the plot to the time-axis so the characters can head forward in time… everyone arrives at the wrong point: only a few thousand years have passed, and The Face of Ea is nowhere near. D'oh. There’s no sense of linear progression, and feels like another story’s been dropped into the middle of this one. Having finished the novel, I can now say that it did matter; you just have to soldier on until all becomes clear.
The Time Axis is a fascinating look back at Golden Age super-science-stories; it’s a big idea that can outdo all other big idea rivals, a book laden with frustrating complexities and wild, speculative creativity. It’s a good synthesis of science mind-blower and thrilling future adventure. But I can’t help thinking it could have been smoother, clearer, less Byzantine in its future pseudo-science. And I have a higher than average tolerance for SF not rooted in realistic science, which will annoy others. A good read? Yes, for the most part. A perfect book? Close, but no cigar; there were a few too many times where I wondered what’s going on, or where’s Kuttner going with this, or was otherwise drawn out of the narrative. When the book finally gets there, though, it’s worth it; the finale makes the entire plot rewarding.