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Old March 14 2012, 01:28 AM   #1
Chaos Descending
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Help me identify a time travel novel...

My Mom and Dad had a bunch of old paperback sci-fi novels.

I remember one that had sort of a time travel plot.

I'm thinking this novel must have been from the 60's or 70's because I read it in probably 1985 and I know it was at least 10 years old by then.

Basically if I remember right, it was about some "historians" from a future world that were using time travel to explore the past. But as I recall, they never went into the "real" past, but more of a "sideways" pasts. For example I think in one case they wound up in a "past" where the normal citizens of the USA were like talking werewolf type people who had banned automobiles shortly after they were invented because they were loud and smoky.

I wish I could remember more. I think one of the characters was named "Svenge" or something like that.
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Old March 14 2012, 01:30 AM   #2
Allyn Gibson
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Re: Help me identify a time travel novel...

Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
My Mom and Dad had a bunch of old paperback sci-fi novels.

I remember one that had sort of a time travel plot.

I'm thinking this novel must have been from the 60's or 70's because I read it in probably 1985 and I know it was at least 10 years old by then.

Basically if I remember right, it was about some "historians" from a future world that were using time travel to explore the past. But as I recall, they never went into the "real" past, but more of a "sideways" pasts. For example I think in one case they wound up in a "past" where the normal citizens of the USA were like talking werewolf type people who had banned automobiles shortly after they were invented because they were loud and smoky.

I wish I could remember more. I think one of the characters was named "Svenge" or something like that.
Larry Niven, The Flight of the Horse. The character's name is Svetz.

It's reprinted in full, with an additional novella, in Rainbow Mars.
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Old March 14 2012, 01:49 AM   #3
Chaos Descending
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Re: Help me identify a time travel novel...

YES! Thank you!
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Old March 14 2012, 04:26 AM   #4
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Re: Help me identify a time travel novel...

Those stories use a unique concept for time travel... you can't go back into time past the point where H.G. Wells first invented the idea of mechanical time travel -- if you try, you end up in an alternate universe where it had been. Takes poor Svetz a while to figure out why he keeps ending up in a different place than he was supposed to according to historians.
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Old March 14 2012, 05:12 AM   #5
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Re: Help me identify a time travel novel...

The underlying conceit of the Svetz stories, as Niven explains in the afterword of The Flight of the Horse, is based on the idea that time travel is an impossible, fantasy conceit. So whenever the characters use their time machine, they're traveling into fantasy worlds and bringing back mythological creatures like flying horses and dragons -- but they don't know it. Their knowledge of history is so fragmentary that they think these fantasy entities they're bringing back are the actual extinct animals from Earth's past before pollution killed off most of the biosphere. So in a way, the whole thing is a case of Niven playing an extended prank on his own characters.
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