Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Time Is the Simplest Thing” as Want to Read:
Time Is the Simplest Thing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Time Is the Simplest Thing

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,880 ratings  ·  132 reviews
Without setting foot on another planet, people like Shep Blaine were reaching out to the stars with their minds, telepathically contacting strange beings on other worlds. But even Blaine was unprepared for what happened when he communed with the soul of an utterly alien being light years from Earth. After recovering from his experience, he becomes a dangerous man: not only ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 191 pages
Published November 1986 by Methuen (first published 1961)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Time Is the Simplest Thing, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Time Is the Simplest Thing

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,880 ratings  ·  132 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Time Is the Simplest Thing
Kevin Kuhn
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is my second Clifford Simak book, my first being the seminal “Way Station”. I enjoyed this book, not nearly as much as “Way Station”, but it was a pleasant experience. It doesn’t have the clarity of plot, but I find his writing to be charming, engaging, and calming.

Simak first published “Time is the Simplest Thing” in May 1961. For context, Russia first launched Sputnik in 1957 and put the first man in space in April 1961. Mankind was just learning how difficult space travel was and had ye
Lisa Feld
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bard
Like most people, I always get nervous rereading books that meant a lot to me in childhood and adolescence, wondering if they're going to hold up. Time Is the Simplest Thing is one of those odd cases where some things have held up beautifully, some flaws are now glaring, and some beauty I was too young to recognize is finally apparent.

In a way, this is Simak's science fiction take on Huckleberry Finn: two fugitives making their way across America and seeing slices of the country to get a sense o
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a soft SF novel, read as a Buddy Read in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group. The book was Hugo award nominee in 1962.

The story starts with an interesting and quite rare premise: the space is deadly, there is no hope for interplanetary travel, even less for interstellar. Since this news, that shaken the world a century has passed and a new mode of travel emerges (here the soft part) – psychokinetic. No one believed in psy-powers but a company named Fishhook persisted and was finally
Jason Mills
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF readers
Although the title suggests a time-travel tale, this is actually a story about persecuted paranormals, standing in a tradition with Stapledon's Odd John (1935) at one end and X-Men, The 4400 and Heroes at the other. Simak's 1961 novel has more in common with the former, in that it shares Stapledon's pessimism about the possibility of reconciliation between exceptional and ordinary people.

Our hero is the slyly-named telepath Shepherd Blaine. He works for Fishhook, a corporation that employs paran
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written s(i)mack-dab in the middle of the American Civil Rights Movement, Clifford D. Simak's "Time Is the Simplest Thing" utilizes the tools of science fiction to make poignant comments on the issues of the day. The novel, the author's sixth out of an eventual 29, was initially serialized in the May – July 1961 issues of "Analog" magazine with the equally appropriate title "The Fisherman," and went on to be nominated for that year's Hugo Award. (It lost, to Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger In a S ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite Simak. Hotbeds of activity are over the border in Mexico, and then Pierre, South Dakota, really? And what does the man have against contractions (like won't instead of will not)? Still, interesting ideas, terrific exploration of human nature in regards to things we don't understand and to which we develop a fear.

"For it was authority that made men suspicious and stern-faced. Authority and responsibility which made them not themselves, but a sort of corporate body rather than a pe
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Wish I'd liked this one more than I did. There are clear parallels here between the persecution of paranormals ("parries") and the persecution of Jews, black people, etc. However, I'm not keen at all on the paranormal (a.k.a. ESP, psionics, etc.) in SF and found I cared little about most of the characters here.
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is well worth reading, but I got tired of the repetitive, lengthy preaching. And also, despite the title, it is not really about time travel. It's about men, and one man in particular, who travel to the stars by telepathy, (view spoiler) ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 4/5

What happens when science fails to live up to society's expectations? How will the masses react when a sixth sense is verified? Simak's world shows us the answers to these stimulating questions. Through a fairly simple plot - basically an extended chase scene - the book showcases excellent science fiction writing.

Simak, here, is weak with the micro-level: the characters are shallow, the individual action scenes are not particularly dramat
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fifth Simak novel that I've read. I feel of those, this is his most aggressive in tone. He crams a lot in the plot and yet, sometimes it is still surprising. At times a little too esoteric. The ending (last couple of chapters) for example, is a struggle to get through. This is less about mental powers than the fear that humans have of the Other and the control that corporations exert. Human development story with social commentary. Add a little fugitive escape and evasion. Stir. Good for Simak f ...more
Dave Etherton
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book from my local libary when i devoured the SCI-FI section not long after i found how much i loved reading.
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I've read a couple of other books by Clifford D. Simak recently; The Werewolf Principle and City, and enjoyed both very much. Unfortunately, Time Is the Simplest Thing wasn't quite as successful. It was a short book so I stuck with it.

Basically, Shep Blaine is a paranormal who is used by an organization called Fishhook to explore the stars. At some point in Earth's history, mankind decided that science and spaceships could not succeed in this exploration. Fishhook continued working with science
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Space exploration with the mind, good aliens, bad aliens, and a societal backlash against paranormal humans (and subsequent commentary on civil rights) - this once serialized book has all of this and more. It also felt a bit preachy, a bit scattered and lacked a solid conclusion.

So how did I really feel? This book was originally serialized, and at times it felt like short stories in that world. Most had their own conclusion; the book as a whole didn't seem to, and the solution chosen by the main
I don't know what happened. Time matches on, I guess. One decade your science fiction is cutting edge, top notch, killer stuff, then one day it is stilted, over dramatic and no longer topical. This novel of a future where paranormal humans are hounded by normals and exploited by a corrupt corporation either wasn't all that good to begin with, or it didn't age well.
Clifford Simak was one of Wisconsin's great products of its Progressive Creative Arts tradition, but please choose a different one o
Kay Smillie
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I last read this Simak classic decades ago but it all came flooding back whilst reading it. He has written better novels than this, particularly Way Station, but this is ahead of its time. All about persecution, corporate greed and who to trust. It is all about a hope for mankind. It is typical Simak who always favours the small man/woman is his story telling.

Ray Smillie
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was also excellent! It was tense & exciting and despite being published decades ago it seemed fresh and interesting. I also liked that it ended in a complex way, not a wrapped-up, kum-ba-yah, happily ever after. ...more
Sappho Sue
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This book is possibly one of the defining stories of humanity using technology to allow itself to do things physically impossible.

In this Simak shows an alchemist society colliding with a religious and how the intolerance and fear engendered becomes poisonous to both.
Ray Wheeler
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I had read Way Station by Clifford Simak and enjoyed it a lot but this book is far better. My next read will be The City.
Norm Davis
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Golden Era Sci Fi Fans
Recommended to Norm by: Cheryl
Time is the Simplest Thing Book Cover by 220px-Clifford_Simak_WS_3112.jpg Time is the Simplest Thing Rating smweb.jpg
Read on 9/2 to page 154, on 9/10 to The End. It was ok, two stars. I recommend it to classic or "Golden Era" science fiction fans although it may have a wider appeal.

We begin our novel with humanity's final understanding that the dream of space is fatally flawed and no advance in our science or efforts will ever allow these feeble human bodies to withstand the massive dangers of space.

On a personal level I really connected with this. Since my youth I've always believed there wil
Jamie Rich
Time Is the Simplest Thing (Kindle Edition) by Clifford D. Simak

A lot of fantasy clothed as SciFi in this one.

Another "meh" book for me. The author is very well noted for producing SciFi that is leap years ahead of everyone else. I think that this tale is perhaps his attempt to do something "different"?
Our hero really is suddenly thrust into his role, and very much against his wishes. He also makes for a rather inept fugitive, but at least he gets some helps. Sometimes.
The characters just didn
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A good newspaper man sticks out the neck whenever there is need to.”
Imagine a Harry Potter world where the muggles not only knew magicians existed but feared and hated them.
“It had taken the orderly mind which science had drummed into the human race to make [paranormal kinetics] finally work.”

As usual, lots of preaching. Simak’s stuff may have been cutting edge half a century ago but it boring now. Unlike however many modern SF writers, he managed to get the science right so the story is not gl
Paul Weiss
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great read from the "classic" sci-fi era!

The story opens in a distant future on earth - so distant, in fact, that space travel is only a memory of the past. After countless attempts, man has begrudgingly acknowledged itself defeated by the insurmountable difficulties of travel to the stars. But, in the attempt, mankind has rediscovered and refined a long-lost talent - paranormal kinetics, a form of telepathy by which gifted individuals - called "parries" - can "travel" to the stars and experie
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really imaginative novel created by one of the great masters of science fiction. In this one, man has finally realized he cannot travel through space in rockets, so a group called Fishhook has used people with paranormal abilities to do the traveling with their minds. They bring back alien technologies that Fishhook has monopolies on, making other technologies obsolete and making it the most reviled corporation on the planet. The protagonist, Shepherd Blaine, is a "parry" who works for ...more
Kathy  Petersen
Of the armful of SF I gathered at a recent book sale, this is surely my favorite. So much that I am investigating other Simak novels and putting them on my to-read list.

I'm trying to develop my personal preference principles for SF, because I am quite picky in this department. So far, these principles include:
- believability: I can absolutely suspend my disbelief, but please remain true to the universe you have created.
- S is for Science, but don't overload me with it, because I won't understand
May 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Decades ago, I read this and realized it before I was past the first 30 pages. But I skim read it anyway.

It's way before its time. But I find too many "buts" going through my head about impossibility to facts we know now (physical and mental about humans and about space itself)- to enjoy this as it should be taken.

The premise of a mind meld is absolutely superlative. That's for sure.
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
The brilliance of Clifford Simak, whom I only discovered this year, continues to dazzle me. His work is on a par with Philip K Dick.
Michael Bafford
A word about the cover! ;-) The picture here is of a PanAm space liner moving in to dock at an enormous space station which hovers above a planet, seeming much too near to be seen from orbit, while an earth-like planet hovers over the horizon. That the artists are not always familiar with the content is often apparent. I suspect that this is a stock photo - perhaps the artist's vision of the future (uncredited). And I guess it was some publisher's assistant - probably someone sleeping with his b ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
3.5. There is a beauty and a wonder in reading books from different genres and eras and this was such a wonderful change of pace from my romance-heavy reading lately.

The thing with older sci fi that I always worry about is it feeling dated, because the ideas have been expanded upon in scifi written in contemporary times, but aside from some of the straight-outta-the-1950s dialogue, the ideas and presentation felt fresh. In this book, humankind has given up on reaching the stars through space tr
Jim Davis
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Not one of my favorite Simak novels. One of his strong points is his ability to draw beautiful pastoral backdrops to set his stories in. In this novel these landscapes seem tacked on here and there instead of being a flowing backdrop to a deeper story. The novel came across a little preachy to me also and seemed disjointed and didn't flow well. There would be abrupt shifts from a plot element about telepathic searches of distant planets to a preachy talk about intolerance and then splicing in a ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
First Cliff Simak book I've read and it took some getting through whilst tackling some interesting concepts.
It seemed to flip between big ideas and our main character on the run, then back to another massive concept then back to our main character in a truck, then a canoe, then big concept. You get the picture.
I was describing it to a friend and they thought the story sounded amazing and I kind of realised that the framework of ideas was really huge but the execution as a story with m
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Hugo & Nebula Awa...: August 2019 Birthday Challenge! 17 17 Aug 25, 2019 12:59PM  
The Big Front Yard: Finished With TitST (there will be spoilers) 6 4 Feb 10, 2014 04:05AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hawksbill Station
  • Across a Billion Years
  • Paingod and Other Delusions
  • Midworld (Humanx Commonwealth, #4)
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • Caspian's Fortune (Infinity's End #1)
  • Imperial Earth
  • Catseye (Dipple, #1)
  • Rare Earth
  • Trap for Cinderella
  • Whipping Star (ConSentiency Universe, #1)
  • Against the Fall of Night
  • Patmos Deception
  • Scarlet Odyssey (Scarlet Odyssey, #1)
  • Dark Universe
  • Selected Stories
  • Tau Zero
  • Venus Plus X
See similar books…
"He was honored by fans with three Hugo awards and by colleagues with one Nebula award and was named the third Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 1977." (Wikipedia)


Related Articles

Author Diane Cook's debut novel, The New Wilderness, explores a mother's attempt to save her daughter in a world ravaged by climate change and...
56 likes · 22 comments
“For it was authority that turned men suspicious and stern-faced. Authority and responsibility which made them not themselves, but a sort of corporate body that tried to think as a corporate body rather than a person.” 6 likes
“Whatever doubt might rise, he knew that he was right. But the rightness was an intellectual rightness and the doubt emotional.” 4 likes
More quotes…