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The Great Time Machine Hoax

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  24 reviews
"We'll need a mobile speaker," Chester said to the computer.

There was a faint sound behind them. Chester turned. A young girl stood looking around as if fascinated by the Victorian decor. She caught Chester's eye and stepped around to stand before him, a slender, modest figure wearing a golden suntan and a scarlet ribbon.

Chester gulped audibly. Case dropped his cigar.

Paperback, Pocket Book 50156, 176 pages
Published August 1965 by Pocket Books, Inc. (first published September 1964)
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Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in the early '60s, this is a humorous fix-up novel that starts out quite well, wanders around in nebulous philosophizing for a section or three, and then returns to course for a coherent conclusion. (Kind of like many Laumer books, come to think of it.) The blurb on the front from a review in Galaxy Magazine says "Hilarious! Swinging! Brilliant!" which help serves to illustrate the context of time and style. It's good old-fashioned sf, representative of its era. (One thing I ...more
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Is not is not not is

This book took me a ridiculous amount of time to read; at 176 pages a novel that should have taken me a few days to finish took about a year. Oddly enough, I’m thinking about re-reading it. The premise is a great one: Chester W. Chester IV owes a million credits in back taxes; he decides selling his circus is his best bet in paying most of the money back. His eccentric great-grandfather passes away, leaving Chester as his sole heir. He inherits a run-down old mansion and an
Michael B
The first half of this book was the most amazingly funny, wickedly humorous thing I had ever read up to that point (I read "Hitchhiker's Guide" the next year). The second half, however, changed things tremendously and inexplicably. The protagonist goes from being a bumbler and a buffoon to this super-hero who can do no wrong, and the story becomes quite formulaic from that point on. A very schizophrenic book.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
review of
Keith Laumer's The Great Time Machine Hoax
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - June 26, 2013

The advantage of reading bks as entertaining as this one is that I don't feel compelled to write anything intellectually substantial about them. The drawback is that I read them in one day & thusly accumulate bks that I 'must' write reviews of (according to the laws of my own process(es) of intellectual stimulation) more rapidly than my inclination to write such reviews happens. Stalemate. Is
When I first gave the book a 2-star rating on finishing it, I wondered if maybe I was being too harsh. But now that I've given it a bit more thought, I think it's justified. Laumer does a decent enough job on the technical level, but the "fix-up" nature of the story becomes painfully clear in the "second act" when pretty much all momentum from the first act vanishes into a puff of faintly Objectivist smoke.

The premise starts off like it might be a good silly time: Chester W. Chester IV, the
John Loyd
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chester inherits a house, which he can have if he can afford the back taxes.* He'll need to sell the circus to pay. He tells his friend Case the news and they head over to see the place. His great-grandfather had built a computer. It wasn't through with his project at the time of his death, but it had instructions to keep gathering data. It did. Chester and Case learn some amazing stuff. They're money making scheme is to create an entertainment venue.** It turns out the computer can show them ...more
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
Ouch. Disappointing. For some reason I had convinced myself this was a "good book" (i.e. on David Pringle's list of the best SF novels, or some such thing). Well, that wasn't the case, and it was abundantly clear soon enough.

It was somewhat competently written, with a few interesting moments, enough to earn it a grudging 2 star rating. But oh, the many annoyances:

1. Bait and switch--there is no great time machine hoax. I was expecting a fun, perhaps dated, perhaps sexist, romp, with characters
Chew Meister
This book opens up poorly. The setup feels rushed. The syntax feels like a 19th century book, where the author attempts to seem more educated than they really are by using million dollar words when a dollar word will do. Then, for seemingly no reason, the story abruptly changes at the 90 page mark. The end of the novel feels rushed as if the author was on a dead line and needed to tie things up and get the book out. It feels like how a childrens movie would tie things up nicely with no conflict. ...more
Tom Britz
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great Time Machine Hoax is probably close to slap-stick comedy. I didn't know what to expect and to tell the truth the ride was something I could not have expected. This was a wacky story from the start till its finish. Keith Laumer threw in a lot of the tropes for time travel, including alternate worlds due to the changes made by our time travellers. This is not the strongest story Keith Laumer has, but is a fine diversionary read. I gave it a four because of Keith Laumer, but it is ...more
Dave Taylor
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great fun and typical of that era of science fiction with its themes and hand-waving technological elements. Fun characters and, yes, it could make a really good Netflix series nowadays too. Think of a sort of time traveling Austin Powers (not quite as randy, perhaps) and you'd have the idea. Props to my buddy Chris for suggesting I dig this one up!
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
The first 90 pages are great, exactly the sort of pulpy sf humor from the 60s the book cover promises, the next hundred pages is the uninteresting physical and intellectual development of the protagonist followed by moral arguments against beatniks or socialism deposited on a new character who appears just for that purpose.

A couple of scenes involve relatively complex mechanisms built by the protagonist over a short period- there's something about the level of detail and the way of describing
D.L. Thurston
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I've read novels expanded from novelettes and novellas that feel seamless. This book, however, the seams are all right there on display during an elongated detour from the primary plot. I picked this book up having enjoyed a past combination of Laumer and time travel in the form of Dinosaur Beach, and this has the same cleverness of ideas and playfulness with the nature of reality. But it does feels like a very different story is being told in the middle than is being told at either end. Neither ...more
My least favorite Keith Laumer story, I think it just tried too hard to walk down the middle as both a serious sci-fi book and something light and humorous. It failed at both -- the funniest thing in the book was worthy of a smirk at best. But the whole thing felt like it wanted to be a light and fanciful tale that was just fun to other words, it failed at really having the depth or drive of a good sci-fi story, too.

Very disappointing. I think I'll read some more Retief stories by
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Great, hilarious book. Lost a star at the end for some problematic gendering and a general theme of a main female character being naked the whole book but, for it's time, (written in serialised form in the mid 60s) it does pretty well.

Worth the read for the absurdity of the premise if nothing else.
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: time-travel
This was an impulse buy at Singularity & Co. -- the title was too good to pass up. Pretty run-of-the-mill 60's pulp, filled with slapstick comedy, a pair of Mary Sue protagonists, and lots of casual misogyny. Still, it was decent subway reading for a couple of days.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book and although at some points the book uses some technical words but if you understand them it makes it better and if not dictionary are your friend. The plot of the book is well thought out with many surprises and a shock ending.
It's a bit weird to be getting "life reading" from what appears to be run-of-the-mill trashy sci-fi, but it's true: I get depressed, I read this book, I remember, "Hey yeah -- I can do this." and move forward with a positive outlook on life. Is not is not not is.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classical
It seems like distinct two distinct novelas put together. Nice ideas for a two good stories but IMO resulted in a strange mix of themes.
The Great Time Machine Hoax by Keith Laumer (2000)
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
A quick, fun read.
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Liked this book in my teen years good romp, some interesting ideas
Read as part of The Lighter Side collection.
James D. Mosteller III
rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2018
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Oct 08, 2008
Daniel Rangel
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Jul 23, 2014
Daniel Lemoine
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May 19, 2016
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Oct 15, 2008
Amir Hirshfeld
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Jan 21, 2013
rated it it was ok
Aug 09, 2019
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Dec 31, 2011
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John Keith Laumer was an American science fiction author. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and a U.S. diplomat. His brother March Laumer was also a writer, known for his adult reinterpretations of the Land of Oz (also mentioned in Keith's The Other Side of Time).

Keith Laumer (aka J.K Laumer, J. Keith Laumer) is best known for his Bolo stories and his