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Showing 1-10 of 129 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 148 reviews
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 21, 2016
In a way, many noir classics involve a sort of time travel. My favorite noir film is Robert Mitchum's "Out of the Past", in which characters out of the hero's past show up to complicate his present and ruin his future. Well, the author of "Take Back Tomorrow" has just turned that figurative haunting of the noir hero's life by his dubious past and uncertain future into a literal tale of time travel. Here, we have a half dozen characters zipping around various decades of L.A. pulling all of the usual noir tricks - scamming, strong-arming, blackmailing, drug running, and so on. The plotting for standard noir usually gets pretty complicated; this book just adds a new literal time travel component.

What makes this more fun, though, is that science fiction stories are the macguffin at the heart of the plot. SPOILER. Here, we aren't selling drugs, or fencing goods, or robbing banks. Rather, the characters are going into the future to steal science fiction stories and books and to bring them back into the past to republish as their own. So, get this, the book is really a science fiction book about science fiction books. Once you buy into the idea that traveling to the future just to steal future books is what you would do if you could time travel, (as opposed to, say, get stock tips or info to get rich gambling), then the rest of the story is easy to take.

This is especially so for sci-fi fans. The author knows the genre, especially from the 30's on, so there is a lot of name dropping about obscure, but real, magazines, serials, publishers and authors. For example, when a future thief mentions in passing a plot that he's brought back, you''ll recognize it as Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", a story that Isaac can't write in 1941 because it's now already been written. That adds a lot of fun to the read, assuming you're a fan.

Now, the writing itself is serviceable. The main characters are appealing enough to hold your interest. There are some very nicely staged scenes and some sharp set pieces, but there is also a fair amount of more clunky narrative bridging those scenes. There is a fair amount of monologuing and a lot of scenes in which one character explains what's going on to another character. I don't mind that because it is very helpful, in both noir and time travel fiction, to have characters help the reader keep track of what's going on. I guess my point is that this isn't a "literary" or "great writing" read. It's a clever, fun, slightly goofy, time travelling Valentine to sci-fi wearing a noir costume. If that sounds at all interesting to you, by all means hop aboard.

Please note that I found this book while browsing kindleunlimited freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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on December 28, 2013
A quote from the book: "If you had a dream, what would you do for the dream? Would you kill for it? Would you defy the laws of the universe?"

Eddie Royce has a dream. He wants to become a famous science fiction writer. It is 1940, at the beginning of the first Golden Age of Science fiction. Eddie has tried for a long time to write something good enough to be published. But he can't come up with any good ideas.

So he borrows some.

Eddie takes some of Shakespeare's plays and turns them into science fiction stories. And he begins to sell his stories to a pulp science fiction magazine.

Also writing for the magazine is Eddie's idol, Chester Blackwood. Eddie's writing has caught Blackwood's notice. Blackwood arranges to meet him. That's when Eddie learns that Blackwood has been borrowing plots as well. But, instead of getting his stories from long dead authors, Blackwood has found a way to travel into the future and steal stories that haven't been written yet.

Blackwood is now an incredibly successful author. And the future has been altered.

Writing in a style reminiscent of the black and white noir movies of the 30's and 40's, Levesque transports us into a time that never was. We have a private eye, some hired muscle, beautiful dames, a corrupt publisher, illicit drugs, hack writers, and time travel.

Can Eddie and his girlfriend stay one step ahead of the thugs, while they travel through time to find a future where they are both alive?

This novel was a fun read. While I read, I had visions of those old noir moves in my mind. I thought Levesque's idea of time travel was very creative.

The novel has many nods to those Golden Age authors such as Asimov and Heinlein. If you're a fan of those great science fiction authors of the Golden Age, you will enjoy this novel.
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on February 5, 2012
I really enjoyed this first book from Mr. Levesque. It has a distinctly "noir" flavor as well as an old school science fiction feel. It is fast paced and clever. Many "time travel" themes are hackneyed and cliche - but Mr. Levesque handles the concept with a sophistication not seen in many of this type of story. Definitely worth the read - especially at the download price! I am looking forward to Mr. Levesque's next book.
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on May 20, 2017
I took a chance on this book after reading Levesque's "Girl at the End of the World" and was not disappointed. As with the aforementioned book, I couldn't put it down until I finished it. I enjoy his style of writing and subject matter. I found one misused word (maul instead of moll, as in gun moll), otherwise the editing and formatting are excellent. Kudos on the cover art as well. It suits the era of the story very nicely. My hat's off to the illustrator.
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on August 4, 2013
The author weaves a noir sensibility with the intriguing concept of a science fiction writer (or hack writer) who travels into the future from 1940 to steal popular stories. Sci fi fans will relish this story, which offers a light primer on the progression of American science and evocative references to the science fiction magazines of the 1920s and 1930s.

For the hard-boiled detective lovers, Levesque's plot is a race against time involving henchmen, a wealthy and ruthless publisher, a missing father, a strange and powerful drug from a mysterious Oriental. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine the leading male character, Eddie Royce, being played in a movie version by Humphrey Bogart.

Mr. Levesque did well with his development of the leading female character Roxanne who is an aspiring writer but who makes ends meet by posing for the lurid, action-packed covers that sold the magazines of the day, with their weird tales of space colonization and alien invasions.

The writing is polished. When Eddie makes a leap into the future, circa 1985, Levesque had to "reverse engineer" the scene, trying to describe our past in a way that seemed like both Eddie's future and present simultaneously. A neat little trick, that.

Take Back Tomorrow offers an intriguing premise, and there's something very enjoyable here for lovers of both noir and science fiction, and for lovers of inventive story lines in general. I smell movie rights.

Chaunce Stanton
Author of Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives
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on February 27, 2016
From the opening paragraph, I knew that Take Back Tomorrow promised to be a different kind of SF novel. Levesque deftly combines the atmosphere of a gritty detective story set during the Golden Age of SF with a science fiction plot that could well have been written during that period.

Although the phrase "page-turner" has become a cliché, there really is no better way of describing the result. My first attempt at this review was written at 3am, when I finally finished the book. Unfortunately, I seem to have pushed the wrong button and the review disappeared into the ether.

Levesque is one of the few SF writers who really understands the phrase "leave them wanting more." His stories, including Take Back Tomorrow, have hugely satisfying endings instead of seeming like weak lead-ins to a sequel. Yet, the world's and characters he creates are so compelling, that upon finishing this book, my immediate thought was "What else has he written that I haven't read yet?"

Take Back Tomorrow will sweep you along its tortuous time travel turns, and leave you wanting to read more of the author's works as well as discover or rediscover those old stories from the SF pulps of the 1940s.
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on March 8, 2014
If you enjoy twentieth-century pulp science fiction, or if you just want a nice, tight, quick read, You should give Take Back Tomorrow a try.

In an afterward, Mr. Levesque states that he enjoys pulp fiction from the previous century, and it shows in this novel in the best meaning of what that genre offered.

1. The story is short by today's standards. That's not bad at all. Many of the "Golden Age of Science Fiction" novels are under 200 pages in length, and Mr. Levesque was wisely kept mostly to that standard. In the 50's and 60's you bought a book, fell into the story for a few hours, and came back to the real world with the memory of having visited a place that provided the "sense of wonder" that defined many novels of the day. You didn't need to plow through hundreds of pages of filler, or wade through an unknown but ever-expanding series of sequels to ride it out to the end.

2. There are four--perhaps five--major characters. This means there aren't continuing distractions of minor characters who pop up, tell you their life story, and vanish for the rest of the book--or series, for that matter.

3. Time travel is a MacGuffin, essential to the story but never explained. That's fine. It's a given, the characters accept it, and aside from minor digressions, no attempt is made to explain it. But this isn't a book based on cutting-edge physics. It's a novel, fun to read, and requiring just a little suspension of disbelief here and there to enjoy. The way the book is written, that's not at all hard to do.

4. Take Back Tomorrow has an ending! With one exception (and that's fast fading) I've never gotten involved in serials that will continue long after I'm dead. I want a story, damnit! And a story should have a beginning, middle, and end. I see all too many beginning writers (and Mr. Levesque is definitely not among them) offer poorly written books at reduced prices proclaiming that this is volume one of a continuing series. In most cases, I think this occurs because the writers have no idea what a real novel is, and are hoping that future volumes will let them pull the whole mess together. These types often stand out because they have poor--if any--copy editing, stiff dialog, and characters whose actions and personalities change from moment to moment, as if a metaphysical coin were flipped to see what would happen next. Gah!

5. Fun! Take Back Tomorrow is a fun book. It's serious at times but the characters never seem to take themselves too seriously. Missing are the pages of introspection that pass for good word crafting. There are no hyper-detailed descriptions of physical characteristics; Mr. Leveque seems to assume rightly that the reader will fill in his own images. And best yet, Take Back Tomorrow provides a fun read. And that's rather difficult to find in the deluge of self-published books that fill Amazon and other e-outlets.

Why not five stars, then? In all fairness to Mr. Levesque, all too many people give five-star reviews to everything they like. If you look at my other reviews you'll find that most of the 5-star reviews are for products. Products are very easy to review: they work or they don't. As a reviewer, I keep 5-stars in books for those that strike me as truly exceptional, that I'll return to and re-read, possibly more than once, such as The City and the Stars by Clarke. I don't think that Take Back Tomorrow was written in that spirit. to be essentially memorable for whatever reason, but in the spirit of sheer entertainment, and in that it has certainly succeeded for me.

My recommendation: buy, read, and enjoy Take Back Tomorrow. It has heart, it's somewhat playful, and when you finally reach the last page, you won't feel that you've wasted a few hours of your life.
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on July 11, 2014
Often, in time travel stories, when someone wants to make money out of the phenomenon, he uses his knowledge of future events to make surefire wagers or equally surefire investments. However, since the characters in Richard Levesque's delightful tale "Take Back Tomorrow" are writers, and science fiction writers at that, they do it somewhat differently, by plagiarizing classic science fiction stories of the future.

Actually, Eddie Royce, a struggling wannabe writer in 1940 whose efforts keep getting rejected by the pulp magazines, starts out by going in the other direction. He sells his first story to a pulp named "Stupendous" by reimagining "Hamlet" as an outer space saga. His minor success attracts the attention of best selling author Chester Blackwood, who soon reveals his own secret formula to Eddie. Chester, it seems, has been travelling into the future for years. In the future, he finds stories like Issac Asimov's "Nightfall" and rewrites them under his own byline. Chester also has the benefit of future critical studies revealing the weaknesses of these stories so his own versions are actually improvements on the originals.

As usually happens in stories like this, Eddie discovers that the ability to travel in time (time travelers in "Take Back" drink a potion that enables them to see portals leading into the past and future) isn't a panacea. He also discovers Chester's gorgeous daughter, Roxanne, who is being blackmailed by Swinburne, the slimy publisher of "Stupendous." Eddie has to figure a way to get himself and Roxanne out from under Swinburne's thumb, but he only has a tiny bit of Chester's potion remaining to help him.

"Take Back Tomorrow" is a highly entertaining, fast paced read from beginning to end. Eddie doesn't actually travel through time until the halfway point of the book, but the buildup is worth the wait. Levesque is obviously a devotee of the golden era of the sci fi pulp novels in the 1930s and 40s and he recreates that milieu perfectly. Readers get a very good idea of how the business operated and how writers, artists, and editors collaborated to make some classic magazines (fortunately, the real publishers were a lot better, and more honorable, types than the rather odious Swinburne). In addition to Isaac Asimov, Levesque casually and reverently drops other names like A.E. van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, and John W. Campbell.

Despite the science fiction elements, for the most part "Take Back Tomorrow" reads more like a mystery pulp of that era (Levesque is obviously a devotee of that genre as well). There's a fair amount of fistfights and gunplay, and Swinburne seems to be channeling Sydney Greenstreet in "The Maltese Falcon." In fact, the book's only real weakness is the tendency for the plot to get bogged down when Swinburne pontificates at too great a length (he also conveniently gives Eddie and Roxanne needless opportunities to get out of trouble). Other than these minor shortcomings, Levesque blends the science fiction and detective genres seamlessly.

Of course, no time travel story would be complete without the usual number of paradoxes, characters from the future meeting those from the past, and fish out of water elements when characters are befuddled by future technology and culture. These elements aren't a major part of the story, but Levesque handles them well, and the structure of his story is consistent, easy to follow, and logical, as long as one accepts the basic time travel premise.

"Take Back Tomorrow" is a labor of love by an author who successfully recreates a bygone literary era and the style and feel of two different genres, then blends some familiar elements of each genre to form a highly original finished work. If I didn't know better, I'd think that the present day Richard Levesque had found out a way to revisit the past and soak up the atmosphere of the 1930s before writing the book. But that would involve time travel, and we all know time travel is impossible.... isn't it? I'd ask Levesque, but I don't think he's going to tell.
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on March 24, 2016
So anyway, Eddie Royce is a hack writer, who's retelling Shakespeare stories as space opera. Which is actually an interesting idea, if anyone wants to do that? Then he meets Blackwood, his idol and inspiration, in person - and finds out what a fake he is... but a fake that's offering him the best hack ever - time travel to the future. Then Blackwood disappears and Royce must find a way to save himself and Roxanne Blackwood from the people who want Blackwood's secret for themselves.

Take Back Tomorrow is superbly enjoyable. I'd just lump it as spec fic/sci-fi due to time travel - or maybe fantasy(ish) because it's not done through fancy tech, but it's also a crime thriller, there's a hint of romance and it's gritty enough to probably be noir. But whatever genre you categorise it as, I'd say it's a great read.
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on March 19, 2014
I started this story yesterday, and shared the contents of the first few chapters with the other half. If you're a gum-chewing Keds-wearing kid who got kicked outside with a cardboard box, aluminium foil and an overactive imagination, and strict orders not to come until dinner time, this is a book for you.

Set in a world where blondes were blonde, TV didn't exist and Hitler was beginning his mad march across Europe, Eddie aspires to be a famous science fiction writer. With no real imagination of his home, but a severe admiration for damsels in distress, or more accurately, damsels who could take out big hairy spiders with laser guns, Eddie, in the words of one of the bad guys, can't write his way out of a paper bag. But he can transpose "Hamlet" into a space adventure, and plans to set Macbeth on Mars.

Eddie thinks he's on to a good thing; after all, Will collected other people's stories and made them his own,why shouldn't he? Until the arrival of Chester Blackwell, who says chillingly to Eddie, "Did you think no one would notice?", leading Eddie into a world of slimy publishers, said blonde damsel in distress, who's smarter than she looks, and a series of very strange events involving published books, gangsters with guns, and a PI who's evidently come across Chester Blackwell more than once, and not just in 1940.

Read on dear readers, and take a wild ride with Eddie, and of course, Roxanne (nice touch!).

And Mr. Levesque.. don't feel too guilty.. I needed the day off!
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