Jon's Reviews > No Enemy But Time

No Enemy But Time by Michael  Bishop
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it was ok

One of the great things about the Kindle is that I can highlight passages I want to use in my reviews. The first such passage from No Enemy but time was:

Alfie had almost certainly plucked from her the fresh gardenia of her maidenhood, for his chieftaincy of the Minids gave him carnal access to almost every female who had attained menarche.

The problem with highlighting this sentence is that it was so awful that it opened my eyes to how awful the rest of the prose was. So that leaves the plot and the characters.



The plot can be summarized as a guy traveling back in time to observe hominids. Something about the way the author wrote about a female hominid early in the book made me sure that they'd end up doing it later in the book...I'm not quite sure how icky that is, but it definitely is at least a little bit icky. The chapters about the time-traveling alternate with chapters about the protagonist's life which lead up to the time-traveling. Oh, and the time-traveling happens via dreams, which just makes things feel less science-fictiony.

The non-time-travel chapters actually tell a more compelling story. The time travel part features the standard question of getting stuck in the past, but by late in the book neither the protagonist nor the reader cares.

There are a few interesting ideas in this book. So it is saved from the 1-star designation, if barely. I don't know whether 1982 was a weak year for Nebula, or after 30 years not everything ages well. (The LeGuin books from the 1970s continue to be fantastic, however.) Hmm. Now I see Bishop beat out Asimov, Heinlein and Dick to win the award. Foundation's Edge wasn't as strong as earlier Asimov, Friday had its own icky parts, and I haven't read the Philip K. Dick work. But I think I'd recommend any of them over No Enemy But Time.
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Reading Progress

December 4, 2011 – Started Reading
December 4, 2011 – Shelved
January 26, 2012 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by MichaelK (new) - added it

MichaelK The final paragraph of chapter 5 acted like a kill switch to my interest in this book:

'On the roof of the condemned building across from Leoncillos Street, Encarnacion knelt beside the iron railings and brought great gouts of air up from her lungs. These she expelled painfully through her mouth and nostrils, her head hanging forward. The sound thus made was a resonant, unsteady keening, and she kept this up until her strength was gone and dawn began to glimmer in the east.'

Paragraph revised for clarity and precision:

'On the roof of her condemned home, Encarnacion screamed until her strength was gone and dawn glimmered in the east.'


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