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A Very Strange Trip Hardcover – July 4, 1998

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Everett Dumphee, the descendant of a venerable line of West Virginian moonshiners, joins the army to avoid prison, only to accidentally activate a time machine while transporting a truckload of experimental Russian weapons to Denver. He then tries to return to 1991, enduring several stopovers, including in the Ice Age, during the height of Mayan civilization and at a train station under Indian attack in 1870. Joining Dumphee at the latter are a cowardly lieutenant and four Indian "squaws" who display an incongruous facility with modern armaments. Attempts at humor come from two angles: poorly executed slapstick (an experimental weapon manifests a gigantic phantom of Joseph Stalin to terrorize Mayan warriors; a mis-aimed cannon destroys a henhouse) and anachronistic pop culture references to Star Trek, Star Wars and Rambo (a "squaw"'s cleavage is her "silicon valley"). Characterization isn't a strength, either: Dumphee's primary ethical qualms come from concern over the Indian women's gold lust, which is awakened by Mayan riches, and his cheap moralizing over whether to remain in the past as a god. Despite the fact that the late Hubbard (Battlefield Earth) gets top billing, Wolverton (Beyond the Gate) wrote this novel, based on an unpublished story by Hubbard. He's done much better on his ownAand so did Hubbard. Simultaneous audio; author tour. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This novelization by Wolverton of L. Ron Hubbard's unpublished screenplay is the late Hubbard's first published sf in almost ten years. The protagonist, the Appalachian-bred Everett Dumphee, joins the Army to avoid being sent to prison for unwittingly transporting moonshine. His skills earn him the assignment of driving a bumbling, inept lieutenant and a stolen Russian time machine to an Army research facility in Denver. The time machine is accidentally activated during the trip, and the two soldiers are transported to a variety of places, including a fort under attack by Indians in 1870, a Mayan city, and the Ice Age. Wolverton's story dredges up every imaginable clich? about Appalachia, the Army, and Native Americans. The novel and its recording have a campy, farcical quality and slapstick sense of humor that do not do justice to either Hubbard's or Wolverton's earlier works. The abridged multicast recording moves too quickly, and the odd country-rock music played at intervals grates on the reader's nerves almost as much as Dumphee's fake West Virginia accent. While the sound effects (e.g., rain, crowds, windshield wipers) and actor Jason Beghe's third-person narration are compelling, the voices of the remainder of the cast sound as though they are coming from the bottom of a particularly deep ocean located about 30 yards to the left of the microphone. Overall, the recording sounds like a bad old-fashioned radio production of a cheesy 1950s B movie. Not recommended.
-Leah Sparks, Bowie P.L., MD
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Galaxy Press (July 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592120016
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592120017
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,898,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A VERY STRANGE TRIP By L. Ron Hubbard & Dave Wolverton. This is a most unusual book, a work that could fit into several different genres or else fall in the cracks between. Though it features time travel, it's not exactly science fiction. It's often funny, but it's not purely a comedy. Though it has sociological overtones, it is by no means a textbook guide to past civilizations. It's actually exactly what the title says, a very strange trip. The book was written by Dave Wolverton, based on a short story by L. Ron Hubbard. Wolverton has written eleven science fiction and fantasy novels, including a couple of Star Wars books, and can always be counted on for solid, all-inviting prose. Hubbard should need no introduction to even casual readers, as he is famous for such works as Battlefield Earth, Final Blackout, and the Mission: Earth series, as well as his works on Scientology. The story opens with the hero, Dumphee, transporting secret military equipment across the country. The all-terrain vehicle he is driving gets bumped and Dumphee finds himself several hundred years in America's past, at a time just before the French and Indian War. There, he meets up with three Native American women, and takes them along as he continues his bounce into the past. The group makes stops along the way in the days of the Mayans, a time when mastodon and sabertooth tigers roamed what are now the Great Plains, and then farther back. At one point, the group even goes on a Tyrannosaurus Rex hunt, using rocket launchers and other modern weapons. During the time-spanning, Dumphee continues his trek toward his original destination of Denver, even though the Denver of the past is not the military base it was in "his" time. Along the way, he learns about love and life from his companions.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NoWireHangers on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The book was published in 1999 but it's set (the "present" part of it, that is) in 1991, just after the fall of the Soviet Union. Dumphee, the hero, drives a military vehicle with a russian time machine and experimental weapons. Some of the references to current events must have felt outdated when the book was published and they're no less so today. But its biggest problem is the plot's lack of direction. It's a very strange trip indeed, but it still feels like it's going nowhere.

The novel was written by Wolverton based on a screenplay by Hubbard, and it shows. I get the feeling this story would have been more fun as a movie than as a novel.

Eight years after its publication, "A very Strange Trip" still hasn't been published in mass market paperback. If it had been available as a low priced paperback, fans of the authors might have wanted to check it out, but it's not worth getting as a full price hardcover.

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Format: Hardcover
So - from reading the description - I expected some humorous suspension of reality, and a good escapist story. I also expected, from an award winning (?) writer picked to share billing with L. Ron Hubbard, a somewhat decent writing style. Then - reading the preface and learning that the author spent time in research on the Mayans, traveling to Southern Illinois - great, I thought - this guy has spent his time getting a feel for the subject. I, apparently - am an idiot.

From the early Western TV show stereo-typical Indian squaws able to quickly understand (and not fear) how to use modern weaponry like an M-16, to experimental weaponry that shot holographic Pekinese (no, I'm not kidding) - the story started out fun and spiraled into painful hilarity.

My hopes for solid research results were shattered when the story ended up in the Mayan era - one of the squaws sees a fort and proclaims 'That's Fort de Chartres' - and the the author goes on to describe Cahokia Mounds. Unfortunately, as my home town is 4 miles from Fort de Chartres, and my mother was the former Site Manager for Cahokia Mounds (and also worked at and researched the Fort extensively) - at this point - I lost any remaining shred of respect. One was a 16th - 17th century French fort, the other (about 40 miles away) was a very impressive Mayan base of civilization from around 1100AD. If you're going to use research and tout it - then please make it reasonably accurate!

So - fortunately- having bought this book for a $1 at a dollar store - I felt I got about half it's worth - and plenty of amusement. But - that's just me. :-)
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Naft on May 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book was very disappointing to me. I've always been a big fan of Wolverton's StarWars books and I never knew he wrote other types of stories. With Wolverton's name and an awesome cover, I couldn't resist buying this one. And the inside flap summary sounded interesting enough.
What I soon found out, though, was that that's ALL I had bought: a name and a cover. I think Wolverton did his best to salvage this story; after all, the plot flowed okay and was a fun, light read. I was through with this book in a single afternoon and it was easy enoguh to get through. However, I think Wolverton's talent as a writer could have better been spent on another Science Fiction piece of his own, not a rehashing of a rehashing of somebody else's ideas.
The storyline (i.e. Hubbard's original idea) was fatally flawed. It lacks the one thing that every good Science Fiction flick needs: Credibility, a real idea expanded in a unique way. It seems as though Hubbard took some 10 year old Cold War sentiments and the time machine cliche, stuck them together in a blender, and then poured the words out on paper as Russian contraband weapons and mysterious time travel devices. I could go on for hundreds of words about this, so I'll just sum it up: the story was boring, unoriginal, and unrealistic.
Maybe worth a library checkout if you're really into time travel stories, but overall I found it lacking in the elements of a good science fiction piece.
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