Times Last Gift Review
I was sent the 30th anniversary edition with a new afterword and a new time-line of events written by fans of Farmer’s work. The book is newly available from Titan Books for 9.95.
It is 208 pages in length.
This book is part of a larger body of work known as the Wold Newton Universe which is Farmer’s way of containing all of the British fantastical heroes like Sherlock Holmes and Doc Savage in one universe. You don’t need to know that to understand the novel as there is nothing intrinsically Wold Newton about it, in fact the connection was only hinted at until the revised edition told how the book is connected.
Time’s Last Gift is about an expedition back in time to the year 12,000 B.C. Four scientists are sent, John Gribardsun our main character, Drummond and Rachel Silverstein who are a married couple, and Robert Von Billman. They are there only to record data on the people who live there, although they end up interacting with the natives quite a bit.
And that’s sort of what happens for the first 100 or so pages. It’s just them hanging with cave men style people. It’s pretty boring but at least its a quick read.
The second half of the book is a bit more interesting as we discover time travel is having psychological effects on the team causing tensions to be high. Some stuff happens but it never really goes anywhere.
The team meets up with many tribes, journeys throughout upper Africa, hunt elephants and cave bears and ect. This is all well and good, but the book lacks a purpose. The scientists are merely watching native people, and again you get a lot of that. So if you’re into reading about cave men style antics then you’ll probably like this book, but I wanted something more.
Gribardsun is the main character and the main mystery of the book. Everyone loves him, but they don’t know where he came from, or how he got on the team as there were many scientists more qualified that opted out at the last minute. Therein lies of problem for me, Gribardsun is unlikable. I think he’s written as a stiff necked jerk. But everyone loves him except for one character who has personal problems with him.
Gribardsun is also written as a superman character able to run 50 miles a day for 2 months without tiring and being able to fight of a pack of wolves with nothing but his bare hands. He’s just disgustingly overpowered, succeeding at everything he does and of course makes for an un-interesting character.
The dialogue is sometimes stiff especially in the case of Rachel, the only female character with lines, but is serviceable.
The book builds, albeit slowly to its climax in the last 20 pages when Gribardsun’s past is revealed. They aren’t immediately surprising although the reveals become increasingly absurd as they continue. Take out the time travel paradoxes that don’t make sense to me(but is forgivable since most time travel stories are this way) and it’s a good ending to a poor book. It doesn’t really earn it’s ending in that it the book meanders so much that it feels as if the author was just filling out a word count at points rather than telling a story.
The story is the most important thing when talking about a book, but in this book the thing I noticed more and more as I went was that typos were everywhere. This wouldn’t be too bothersome as few of them detracted from my understanding, however being that this is the 30th edition those mistakes should have been fixed by now.
Overall I would not recommend Time’s Last Gift except to fans of Farmer’s work and those who want to put all the pieces together on the Wold Newton Universe.