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The Time Machine Did It (Frank Burly #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  1,013 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Humor/mystery novel by the writer of 59 episodes of The Simpsons.
Paperback, 138 pages
Published June 28th 2006 by Kennydale Books (first published 2004)
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Kemper
The hero of The Time Machine Did It is a stupid overweight detective named Homer Simpson Frank Burly.

It’s easy to confuse Homer with Frank because author John Swartzwelder wrote over 50 episodes of The Simpsons. After he left the show, Swartzwelder, a notorious recluse, started writing absurd comic novels that he has self-published to avoid having to deal with demands of publishers. Apparently you can take the writer out of The Simpsons but you can’t take The Simpsons out of the writer because t
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j
John Swartzwelder has written a zillion episodes of The Simpsons, and I'm guessing he's the guy who came up with the gag that Mr. Burns is always making ancient cultural references like "Idlewild Airport" and "Amalgamated Spats," because this entire book is in that vein: a bunch of little gags that are almost funny, but they probably aren't going to make you laugh.

Roughly every other sentence includes a pun or a zinger but I can't say I found any of them... funny. Sort of lightly amusing, maybe,
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Jinny Chung
Hilarious, unflaggingly hilarious from word one to the very last speck of ink! In no way is it a cerebral comedy, but it is a riot nevertheless. Swartzwelder is responsible for much of the off-beat humor featured in The Simpsons (he had a particular predilection for causing still, inanimate objects to inexplicably burst into flames), and any sentence from this book will make that obvious. He almost writes in the style of the godfathers of noir -- almost.

Ack. Excerpts should suffice.

"A sign out f
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Matthew Novak
Great first book by the recluse John Swarzwelder. His voice is still in tact and as funny as ever. I don't think anyone will ever top the episodes of The Simpsons that he wrote.
Ian Mullet
Jan 22, 2009 Ian Mullet rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who don't suck
funniest book ever!
Grant Phipps
In college when I was obsessively re-watching early-mid-90s era Simpsons episodes, I discovered that one of the show's best writers, John Swartzwelder, had committed to two novellas. The other was a Western spoof called Double Wonderful, which I purchased but never read. This seemed like more interested material, and I came to enthusiastically read about half of The Time Machine Did It in late 2005-early 2006 (I believe). When I was packing away books to ship to my new home in Wisconsin just mon ...more
Samuel Breed
John Swartzwelder's truly unique sense of humor is the gem which shines through this somewhat rough novella. The jokes are all wholly original, as is the plot, which riffs on everyone's favorite hard-boiled detective fiction. Yet, a sense of vague familiarity precipitates the book. Perhaps its because Swartzwelder 55 Simpsons episodes, and was one of the most prominent figures in its writing room for the best seasons. Think of any off-kilter reference to late 19th century culture or strange mult ...more
Andy
SciFi readers are ruthless when it comes to critiquing an author's handling of the paradoxes of time travel. Swartzwelder decided to make every one a fodder for humor in this novella.
Michael
I think this was the first book that ever made me laugh out loud. I started laughing from the first sentence and I couldn't stop laughing or put it down. Great read.
Rina
Hilarious! Perfect combination of mystery, humor and a little science fiction. I literally laughed out loud, it was unbelievably funny.
Jake
An absolutely hilarious novel. I laughed out loud numerous times. A very quick, joyful read.
Kalin Schoephoerster
This is the funniest book I've read in a long time.
Gary Mcconnell
Exceptionally, unflinchingly hilarious.
Bryan Woerner
Funny is an understatement.
Daniel
John Swartzwelder, notoriously reclusive Simpsons scribe, is known for penning some of that show's funniest and most culturally pointed episodes. He is capable of being absurd without succumbing to plot-driven idiocy and able to nestle high-brow-rising humor next to the goofiest of puns without skipping a beat. Few of the show's current writers can boast his kind of output, whether you're measuring it by episode or by how many gags he can fit into any given minute.

His books (four so far) don't t
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Marty Tomlinson
Aside from the Douglas Adams books, this is probably the funniest book I've ever read. Written by the guy who's written more episodes of "The Simpsons" than anyone else, it really has a mid-90's Simpsons feel to it. There was a laugh out loud moment every few pages.

I think I liked it even more because it dealt with time travel, and I'm generally a aficionado of time travel stories, and this is a clever riff on time travel stuff.

If I had a complaint, it would be that it's not long enough. It's
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Andrew Lee
If you're a big Simpsons fan, chances are you've heard of John Swartzwelder. And even if you haven't, there's a really high chance based on fan polls that one of your favorite episodes was penned by this really unique comic writer. I'm happy to report that I found myself chuckling quite loudly to an average of every two pages. It's hard to squarely fit his unique brand of humor into any particular cateogry but rest assured the same type of hilarity from many amazing Simpsons quotes find their wa ...more
Liam
This is a sometimes exhausting book which is a joint parody of hard-boiled detective fiction and time-travel science fiction. The jokes are very thick and fast. Not all of them hit the mark, and many actively disturb any sense of flow in the story, but at times there are moments of comic timing that put you straight in mind of classic Simpsons episodes, for example in this early episode when the lead character, Detective Burley, drops by a homeless man's home in the local dump to ask about a sus ...more
Doug Roberts
Written from the first-person perspective of a blundering idiot, this book quickly makes you wonder if the character is a fool, or if the author is. Based on the weak plot, the lame jokes, and the grade-school level of writing, I' m placing my bets on the latter. There were moments of interest, and even one or two that made me smile out loud, but not enough to recommend this or ever read anything by this author again.
Adam
I read the reviews. I love the Simpsons. I had high hopes.

This is basically Police Chief Wiggum bumbling through a badly written time traveling story. The scifi is bad. The humor is heavy handed. The writing is in bad need of editing. I cannot say how disappointed I was.

If you want scifi, look elsewhere. If you want humor, look elsewhere. If you want Simpsons style writing, go watch some episodes.
Melanie
Let me start with a quote:
"It has always amazed me how angry people can get at my stupidity. How do they think I fee? They only have to be around me a couple of hours at a time. I've got me all day."

I bet they feel the same way I felt after having to be around this character for an entire book.I was looking for humor and, as the author has written for many episodes of the Simpsons, I had high hopes of finding it. But this, if it is humor at all, is slapstick. It is the humor of stupidity. I thin
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Christian
Jun 28, 2007 Christian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: simpsons fans, marx brothers fans
This book is ridiculous.


There is nothing else really to say. It had me rolling with laughter.

Schwartzwelder is God.
Scott Kinkade
The Time Machine Did It is an absolutely hilarious novel. Swartzwelder proves he still has the comedic edge even without the visual component to back him up. Watching his protagonist blunder his way across time--wrecking history in the process--and getting the crap beat out of him repeatedly gives the reader many laughs. Swartzwelder is a master of the absurd and that comes across plain as day here, particularly in the last part of the story where Burly makes a complete mess of history (includin ...more
Matt Payne
One of the funniest books I've ever read. Every paragraph is hilarious and ridiculous.

I guess the time-travel stuff was kind of cliche, but it didn't matter. John Swartzwelder could write about breakfast and it would be hilarious. I gave it four stars because it's pretty much the most fun I've had reading a book.

It's funnier than Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

It was written by one of the original writers for The Simpsons, and it's clear that this guy is a major part of the reason they were mi
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Bradley
Aaahhh John Swartzwelder. Responsible for one sixth of the scripts written for the 'The Simpsons' by the time he left the show, which is an amazing amount of output. If you've read anything about Mr Swartzwelder, he's an odd reclusive but interesting character in his own right, which no doubt aided in his hilarious writing. 'The Time Machine Did It' follows along the same lines of the Simpsons with its absurdist well timed humour. Frank Burly is similar to Homer Simpson in many respects, except ...more
Luis Damian Robles
Swartzwelder's first book is a masterpiece of a con job. Using the searing iron of television, the writer of my favorite Simpsons episode (the Kafkaesque Homer's Enemy) successfully branded his comic visions, the imagery and timing, the very seal of his humor, onto the inchoate brains of the show's fans, which now span generations--generations that bear his deep-seated mark. As the creative talent ages, perchance the artist seeks less collaborative commerce with those that have appreciated her a ...more
Dan
Sep 02, 2013 Dan added it
The cover of the book states "By The Writer of 59 Episodes of The Simpsons." Lacking a television, I have not watched The Simpsons; however, I suspect this cover statement tells you most of what you need to know about the general tone of this book--it is a comedy/parody/farce.
Pro: A quick read, and at times pretty funny. Here is one example that is not a spoiler: "Somebody had been doing some major league tampering to my car. The brake lines were cut. The tires were on fire. There was carbon mon
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Mandy
I decided to read this book because the author is a writer for the Simpsons and the people behind the scenes often talk about Swartzwelder and his novels. Swartzwelder refuses to be on the commentaries. I found that I often really enjoyed the episodes he wrote. So I decided to give his novels a try. This is the first one I've read.

It is funny, but it could be funnier if things were shown more than told. I could see how the comedy would work better if it were a TV show. You don't really get to k
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Ryan
I read this book because Swartzwelder wrote a whole bunch of Simpsons episodes, and it seemed like a safe bet that this would be funny. It is indeed pretty funny in a rather understated way. The humour is rather dry. Some people think that the main character, Frank Burly is essentially Homer Simpson, but Frank is more self aware.

It kinda reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut but without all the humanist themes and life-affirming passages.
Pretty funny, but nothing that will be that memorable or life-chang
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Michael Tildsley
John Swartzwelder is hilarious. He has a certain slant of wit and a unique outlook on life that makes even mundane cliches fresh and humorous. Comedy is in the details. The entire novel moves along at a break-neck pace. Every page and every paragraph advances the plot. I had a hard time reading about the detective and not thinking of Homer Simpson. I knew I would enjoy this story after laughing for a solid minute after reading the opening paragraph.

The opening paragraph of the novel:

"Frank Burly
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1717
American absurd satirical novelist and former writer of the animated comedy show "The Simpsons"

Swartzwelder won an Emmy Award as a writer of 59 episodes of the Simpsons.

In 2004 he released his first satirical science-fiction novel about a private investigator called Frank Burly.
More about John Swartzwelder...

Other Books in the Series

Frank Burly (8 books)
  • How I Conquered Your Planet
  • The Exploding Detective
  • Dead Men Scare Me Stupid
  • Earth Vs. Everybody
  • The Last Detective Alive
  • The Fifty Foot Detective
  • The Million Dollar Policeman
How I Conquered Your Planet The Exploding Detective Double Wonderful Dead Men Scare Me Stupid Earth Vs. Everybody

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