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Corrupting Dr. Nice Paperback – February 15, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (February 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312865848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312865849
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,856,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In John Kessel's world, time travel has given humanity a great gift: the ability to exploit an almost infinite number of alternate pasts. And exploit it they have. Sightseeing tours to the crucifixion and front row seats at Caesar's assassination are just the beginning. But nice-guy Dr. Owen Vannice just wants to bring a dinosaur named Wilma forward for study. Then he meets August and Genevieve, a father-and-daughter con artist team, and together they land in the middle of a past revolt. "Entertaining, funny, and, best of all, highly serious," according to author Connie Willis. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In the mid-21st century, time travel is as common as air travel is today, and so is the wholesale looting of the past for people and artifacts. The eponymous Owen Vannice, a billionaire paleontologist trying to smuggle a dinosaur from the Cretaceous period, becomes the target of Genevieve Faison, a professional confidence woman. He also becomes the focus, A.D. 40, of a Zealot uprising in Jerusalem, which has been virtually colonized by the time-travel corporations. Surviving kidnapping by terrorists and betrayal by Genevieve, Owen proceeds to marry the woman when she reappears under the name of Emma Zume. It all works out happily in the end, even for one Simon the Zealot, driven to terrorism after time-travelers steal away one Yeshu, whom he followed. The character of Simon and the portrait of a Jerusalem under time-traveling occupation are superlatively well done. Most everything else here, however, suffers from an earnestness that clashes with the urge to romp. Kessel (Good News from Outer Space) dedicates the novel to a slew of film directors (Capra, Wilder, Sturges, etc.) who mixed comedy and drama in their work. The mix here isn't nearly as magical as theirs, but the story remains intelligent and entertaining throughout.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

John Kessel hit the head on the nail when he wrote Corrupting Dr. Nice.
Robert Pylant
The novel is very entertaining, a fast and funny read, yet with a core of serious thought about the exploitation of the people in the past by those of the future.
Richard R. Horton
Very well, but I also detect some deeper messages about corporate domination, colonialism, human identity, and religion in the face of time travel.
doomsdayer520

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 1997
Format: Hardcover
John Kessel knows how to tell a story. Countless
science fiction books make it into the bookstores
only because of some cool idea, or because they tie in to a popular TV series or movie, or because the author's name guarantees sales, or because some big dinosaur is ripping across the cover.

Not so with _Corrupting Doctor Nice_. The best
fiction--and this novel is surely some of the best
fiction--tells a _story_, one which engages the reader's interest; delights with plot complications, humor, and tension; and satisfies with a resolution that fulfills all the promises made by the developing plot.

Kessel's book does just that, and does it with dinosaurs and time travel, too. The "coolness factor" which makes good science fiction good science fiction is intimately blended with the brilliant storytelling which makes good fiction good fiction.

Buy the book, read it, and remember why you came to love fiction in the first place.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Noyes on May 15, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If travel through different ages and parallel dimensions were a possibility would we hesitate to exploit them? John Kessel's imaginative and plain old funny "Corrupting Dr. Nice" depicts a world (well, several) in which cars are driven with gas pumped from other dimensions, messiahs are plucked from 1st century Jerusalem to appear on talk shows, tourists from the 21st Century swarm around ancient Rome, and dinosaurs are cloned to provide the ultimate steak dinner. With Doctor Nice, the earnest but naive palentologist, his security software which keeps making him preform acts of heroism, and any number of rouges and con-artists, this book is engaging and thought-provoking. In a Sci-Fi tradition which includes Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Piersol on September 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
The story surrounds the scientific realization of time travel in the 21st century. Humans can travel to the past in any number of "unburned" parallel universes during historical periods where the "historicals" have not yet been exposed to the "futurians." Alternatively, travelers can go back to a well-established moment universe where the historicals have gotten used to the futurians coming and going. A revolt occurs during a well-established universe, 40 C.E. A good story follows and mostly takes place back in the future.
The main plot is a common thread with a new twist. A grifter and her father travel to various times and scam clueless tourists from the futre. Soon, she falls for one of the men she intends to scam, a naive, almost perfect paleontologist who has taken a young dinosaur from the past for study. This part of the story is somewhat obvious. It reminds me of a movie. I can see this going to the big screen easily. The bigger story in the background surrounds the ethics of time-travel.
There is a parallel between the unethical behavior of the scam-artists, the paleontologist's removing the dinosaur from the past, and the corporation who owns the time-travel machines.
I kept wondering how this story would end. Any book that makes me guess what's going to happen in the last few pages gets 4 stars from me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Edward Alexander Gerster VINE VOICE on April 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
John Kessel has done it again. He has raised science fiction to literary prominence -- in a humorous, satiric comedy that effortlessly flows back and forth through time. This novel is politically intriguing, highly serious and wildly comical -- but it also is very warm-hearted and filled with well rounded charcters that keep the story moving and interesting. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on April 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
As you can see from some of the less fun-loving previous reviewers, this wild time travel yarn from John Kessel does have many logical inconsistencies. Sure there are problems inherent in this book's characters meeting alternate versions of themselves from different time periods, and altering past events for their own purposes. But time travel itself, in any science fiction story, is illogical to start with, so quit bellyaching and enjoy a story that is both fun and dwells on many surprisingly deep themes. Kessel throws off a quickie (and admittedly under-elaborated) explanation of quantized time streams and something called "moment universes" to allow a thought-provoking premise on how the supposed miracle of time travel can be exploited by corporations for profit. Here, time travel is turned into slavish entertainment as historical people are used as theatre for rich time-hopping tourists, alternate time streams are exploited for natural resources and infinite profit-making opportunities, and the downtrodden are enslaved by public opinion and elitism. The basic plot of the story revolves around some crafty time bandits trying to game the new system, and a pretty implausible love story. Very well, but I also detect some deeper messages about corporate domination, colonialism, human identity, and religion in the face of time travel. And the book is pretty funny too. [~doomsdayer520~]
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on August 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I consider Kessel's first solo novel, Good News from Outer Space, to be one of the best (and oddly neglected) SF novels of the past decade, and stories such as "Not Responsible! Park and Lock It!", "Another Orphan", "The Big Dream", "The Pure Product", "Buddha Nostril Bird" and last year's "The Miracle of Ivar Avenue", among others, are part of a fine, memorable, corpus of short fiction. So I was eagerly anticipating Corrupting Dr. Nice.
Kessel's most familiar mode, it seems to me, is satire, often quite savage, as in "The Pure Product" or the well-known Good News outtake "Mrs. Shummel Exits a Winner", but he can also wax lyrical, and passionate (see "Invaders" or "Buffalo", for instance). And lately he has shown a distinct flair for out-and-out comedy, as in his explicit Preston Sturges hommage from 1996, "The Miracle of Ivar Avenue". Corrupting Dr. Nice is in this latter mode, a screwball comedy, also dedicated to Sturges (as well as a host of other screwball directors). It is quite successful on those terms, as well as being successful as SF, with a well-expressed core message (over-simplified, that people in the past are still real people) which is resolved in a satisfactory manner.
The story opens by introducing August and Genevieve Faison, a father-daughter team of time traveling con artists. They have just completed a successful scan in revolutionary Paris, and are escaping into the past, when the canonical "meet-cute" occurs, as the very rich Paleontologist Owen Vannice (nicknamed "Dr. Nice") literally stumbles out of a time-machine in Jerusalem, 41 C.E., and into the arms of Genevieve.
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