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October the First Is Too Late

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Professor Hoyle's time travel science fiction adventure is a modern relative of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

Solar beams plays havoc with terrestrial time: England is in the '60's, but WWI is still raging in western Europe, Greece is in the golden age of Pericles, while the United States is some thousands of years in the future; and Russia and Asia are reduced to a
Paperback, 281 pages
Published February 1st 1985 by Baen (first published 1966)
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have you heard of a science-fiction literary exposition (an infodump) of this new technology or that new idea? well here is a book for whom it is the infodump- freed of tyranny of literary techniques that has developed through the ages- that is all lectures all the time. this book knows what you truly want to read, so i present, 'infodump: the novel'...'plausible impossibilities' is what matters, though i do not think this is what is meant to be dropped by beckett for example, you know, the usua ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I am tempted to make a sarcastic remark or two based on this book's dreadful title, but, when you come down to it, it doesn't seem fair. Let's just say that the title isn't necessarily the worst part and leave it at that.

Luckily for him, Hoyle never quit the day job. Good call, Sir Fred.

Florin Pitea
Jul 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this back in the 1980s.
Erik Graff
May 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hoyle fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
As usual, this is not a particularly well-written science fiction novel. Still, the set-up, like that of Farmer's Riverworld, appears original enough to merit attention. I'm surprised that this idea of juxtaposing different times on the earth's surface hasn't spawned a series or hosts of imitators as it is so pregnant with possibility.
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Blah. Boring as snot. And, oddly, is about music - not time/space. Chapter 12 is interesting. Chapter 14 is dismal and despairing. Everything else is as bad as the reviews say.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much more interesting than I expected
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Fred Hoyle was a great astronomer who wrote popular science books and science fiction on the side. The popular science books were very good. The science fiction is not.

Science fiction is supposed to be fiction. That means not only that it is not true, a story, but that it has characters that seem real, grab your interest, and act in ways that you identify with. They have lives you care about and face human problems.

Not here. The characters are wooden. They mostly don't ha
Thots while reading:
Kind of funny conundrum that is presented on page 90. When most people talk about 'time travel', they talk about a man-meeting-his-grandfather kind of situation. In this book, a man instead meets his mother. The son is from the 1960s and the mom is from 1917 and pregnant; so the son gets to meet his mom while he is a baby in his mother's womb. An amusing twist of the normal events, as it were.

The story strongly reminds me of Eric Flint's 1632 series and the one-
Jul 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this book shortly after it was published, in 1966, when I would have been a junior or senior in high school. I have reread it several times since, it has really stuck with me. There are many things I love about this book, the (serious, according to the author) theory of time it contains not being the least. To be clear, there are many things in this book with which I do not agree, including this theory of time, which, while I did not agree with it, opened my mind to alternative ways of th ...more
Perry Willis
I first read this as a teenager in the early 70s. I liked it then and I like it now, having just finished a re-reading. Time gets scrambled on planet Earth. It's the 60s in Britain, WW1 in Europe, and the far future over most of the rest of the world. Let the fun begin.

Needless to say, there is the usual handwringing about supposed limits to growth. This was typical of the era, and we haven't fully recovered from it yet. Nevermind that population falls as wealth grows. They didn't know that the
Jonathan Norton
Excellent stuff, extending the ideas about time and consciousness mentioned in "Fifth Planet" and with an equally strange universe of twisting and merging timelines. There is a pessimistic view of how political and economic trends of the 60s will play out in the future, and post-imperial Britons are still fretting about finding a world role. However a big change from earlier work is that the narrator is now a musician and he shapes his story thematically, even though there is a still a science c ...more
Timothy Collins
Good idea bad execution

The basic idea (multiple times coexisting) is interesting. But, well,nothing much is done with it. I kept thinking how climate would be affected or how interactions in one might affect others or how the basic requirements of Continental drift would cause land masses to alter. And usually Boyle would consider that too. But not this time. Point blank i expected hard science fiction and got a softer variety.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
Memorable, yes. Odd, yes.

The concept here is interesting. The bizarre music element keeps you riveted because you want to see where that unusual hook might take you, but the payoff let me down.

I kinda want someone to make a weird Sunday afternoon matinee movie using this book as the template. With cheesy wardrobes and bad mustaches.
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a long time now, but I found this book fascinating as a sci-fi exercise, and have often wondered what that sublime music of the future would sound like. Certainly something that would link directly to the emotions and reduce the listener to tears of emotion at its sheer beauty. Perhaps a cross between Tchaikovsky and Milton Nascimento, if one can imagine that :o)
Joseph Carrabis
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another gem from an era when big science literally meant big science, computers that filled rooms if not buildings (big iron) being an example. The review mentioned consciousness as a theme. I'd disagree. It's more about how humans deal with change (as I read it) when complete environmental and psychological change can be experienced in a day's travel.
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Enjoyable and quick read from a very distinguished if somewhat (very) controversial astronomer. A bit stilted at times in the writing, and certainly in the characters, but considering when it was written (1966) very much up to date with physics. A classic of the what if sf school of thought that was very popular back then.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
More fun as a time machine to 1966 fiction than as a satisfying novel in itself... the premise ought to have been fascinating, but instead the most enjoyable parts of the book were the long discussions of the protagonist's work as a composer.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed this book. It took its time to get into the main vehicle of the plot. I really enjoyed the classical overtones throughout. I found the writer to be a little unconventional vs other classic sci if. Will read more Fred Hoyle.
Sean Randall
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I thought the ending was a proper cop-out on this one, I felt as if the work totally lost its way. A shame, as it was quite poetic in places.
Hans Guttmann
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read it a long time ago, but I think about it every year.
Patrick Gibson
One of the best alternate-reality (time travel, sort of) books I've read so far (ant it was written in the 50's).
Frank Ashe
The main thing I remember about this novel is taking a grand piano to Periclean Athens.
Yvonne Lacy
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A classic. Sir Fred was no great SF writer, but it's fun to read a great scientist's take on the fluidity of time, which "like a rolling stream soon bears her sons away", or not...
When this book was new, Fred Hoyle was not only one of the world's leading astronomers, but one of science's leading popularizers as well. He liked to startle people, and in later life he seems to have fulfilled this personal need by taking up untenable ideas, such as the idea that influenza epidemics are caused by viruses raining from space, or that the bones of the bird-reptile link Archaeopteryx were a hoax. Up to a point, the controversies that he raised were valuable; for example, in their ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I bought this book on a whim at a used book store. It has been many years since I read any Hoyle.
His style is a bit stilted and his characters come off as very much in their heads, but the books of Hoyle are about ideas and he excels. He is excellent at creating interesting scenarios, sometimes helped by his background as an astrophysicist. He was also a learned man and his intermixing of music and music composition with the story also adds to the interest. This is a somewhat odd story set in h
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This 1970 Fawcett paperback holds a special place in my heart. I have read it several times and I am in awe of its intelligent composition, suspenseful plot, and riveting conclusion. Hoyle begins this jewel of a book with a note “To the Reader” where he states: “The “science” in this book is mostly scaffolding for the story, story-telling in the traditional sense. However, the discussions of the significance of time and of the meaning of consciousness are intended to be quite serious, as also ar ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time is an illusion, launchtime doubly so.

This is a classic sci-fi novel written in 1966 by the famous astronomer Fred Hoyle. Such books are an occasional digression from my usual literary type books.

Ok the basics: in Aug 1966 scientists have a problem with a rocket turning off course – it turns out the sun’s IR light is being modulated to transmit information. The narrator musician along with his friend John trek in the lake district and John gets lost for 8 hours – he r
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodness...this book has not aged well at all. Hoyle's view of the nature of time and the progressive change of the consciousness of mankind is difficult to fully accept as presented here. It's an excellent idea but it is not executed well. I read it several years ago and even then it seemed the novel's ideas were not fleshed out in believable terms. I did like (very much in fact) certain parts of the future he imagined but it was completely improbable how the author reasoned mankind progressed ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
I read this novel so long ago, most likely while I was in High School, not studying the boring stuff the teachers wanted me to, but reading what I wanted (it made me the man I am today!).

I don't believe Hoyle was a great SF author (maybe a good editor would have helped), but he was always entertaining. I only recall scenes from the novel. The pianist, the jumble of historical eras, references to WW1, and the debates. I would like to re-read, if I can find a copy.

I would recommend th
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Valancourt Books: October the First is Too Late (1966) by Fred Hoyle 5 13 Nov 16, 2015 04:10PM  

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Professor Sir Fred Hoyle was one of the most distinguished, creative, and controversial scientists of the twentieth century. He was a Fellow of St John’s College (1939-1972, Honorary Fellow 1973-2001), was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1957, held the Plumian Chair of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy (1958-1972), established the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy in Cambridge (now p ...more