- Mass Market Paperback
- Publisher: Ace Double 00990; Paperback Original edition (1972)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000B6CNNK
- Package Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Time Thieves (printed with "Against Arcturus," by Susan K. Putney Mass Market Paperback – 1972
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[originally posted 20Dec2001]
Everyone who's delved into Dean Koontz' early work is fully aware the man wrote some absolute howlers, things that will probably never again see the light of day. But interspersed with them were some flashes of greatness, a few choice novellae and short stories that hinted at the greatness to come. Of the pre-horror work, the finest book by far is A Darkness in My Soul; Time Thieves gives it a pretty good run for second.
The cover has nothing at all to do with the plot; ignore it completely. We open with a guy who pulls into his garage, gets out of the car, goes into the kitchen to get something to eat, and finds out (courtesy his shocked wife) he's been gone for twelve days. Problem is he can't remember any of that time. Sound like a familiar plot? Should, if you watch the X-Files (and, since it's mentioned on the cover, saying it's an alien-abduction lost-time story isn't exactly giving away spoilers), but remember this book is coming up on thirty years old, back when only about twenty people in the country had ever heard the term "Project Bluebook." So looking back from a 2001 perspective, it's a pretty old tale, but keep in mind the temporal context.
Koontz also keeps the sci-fi claptrap to a minimum, which is always nice. No annoying seventies-space-opera-sounding names for common household appliances or anything like that. In fact, Time Thieves points to the place Koontz ended up, after taking a quick detour into Dick Francis-land in 1974; Time Thieves could pass for a horror novel with a heavy sci-fi bent to it (Strangers, anyone?). A must for Koontz completists, and recommended for casual fans as well. ***
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Susan K. Putney, Against Arcturus (Ace, 1972)
[originally posted 7Jan2002]
Not being much of a hard sci-fi fan, I'd probably never have picked this up were it not the flip-side of the Ace double containing Dean Koontz' long out-of-print Time Thieves. It's the story of an Earth activist who's tagged for a subversion mission on a small planet off in the galaxy a ways. Seems that when Earth got overpopulated, humans set out for other planets to colonize, and now those planets are rival factions. The Arcturans are humans, too, but an offshoot who's presently at war with Earth. The small planet in question is resource-rich and quite desirable to both sides. Arcturus in presently in control, and Earth wants to be. Pretty standard sci-fi stuff.
The "pretty standard" designation continues with the terminology used—why is it that sci-fi novelists from Wells all the way up to William Gibson feel the need to create a "sci-fi atmosphere" by using unintelligible terminology for everyday things, and creating artifacts like videophones?—but thankfully there's at least halfway decent character development happening here, and the reader will (eventually) get involved enough with the characters to care what's going on. Far more interesting than the main plot is a subplot involving the planet's native race, who seem to have strong beliefs that simply aren't true (strong enough to keep repeating the same info under hypnosis and truth drugs); while the end of the book is somewhat predictable (especially given the timeframe in which it was written), the climax of that particular subplot is what leads the book into predictability, and that climax is at least worth the price of admission-- or was when paperbacks cost less than a buck (as this one did).
Not something worth hunting down for the years it'll take you to find a copy at the proper price point, and not worth buying as much more than an investment (after all, the Dean Koontz side of the double is worth a small mint in your find it in the right condition), but if you happen to stumble upon a copy, flip it over after you're done with Dean. **