A Rebel In Time

by Harry Harrison
Reviewed date: 2004 Jan 26
Rating: 3
320 pages
cover art

A Rebel In Time is typical of Harrison in that it is strictly an action and adventure story. I found the first half of the book to be dull and frustrating. Harrison spends 150 pages to allow his main character, Troy Harmon, to investigate the suspicious activities of the villain, Colonel McCulloch. This would be an interesting investigation except that we already know exactly what McCulloch is up to, and it is painful to spend half the book only to discover something that was blatantly obvious right away.

Let me spell it out for you. Colonel McCulloch is acting suspicious.

  1. He has sold all this worldly possessions and gone into debt to buy gold.
  2. He has stolen a simple submachine gun and blueprints for the gun from the Smithsonian.
  3. He has suddenly taken an intense interest in studying the Civil War.
  4. He is a rabid racist who is bitter about the South having lost the war.
  5. He is working on a top secret government project involving time travel.
  6. One day he suddenly disappears.

Understand now? No? Maybe it would help if I told you the cover of the book shows a military man, dressed in a Southern army uniform, holding a Confederate flag and a submachine gun. Need more hints? The blurb on the front cover says "All colonels want to win wars--but this one wants to win a war fought 100 years ago!"

Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on Harrison--authors don't get to design their own cover art, and they have no say about what blurbs get put on the cover. But even without those items, the title of the book pretty much gives away the plot--not that the plot was very original or surprising.

It's not all bad, though. Harrison cleverly avoids time travel paradoxes by subscribing to the alternate universes theory of time travel. Kudos for Harrison. And the book is exciting--I read most of it in one sitting, because I just didn't want to stop. Still, the problems with it offset the good parts, leaving it just an average book. However, it is a better-than-average time travel book, if you're into time travel.

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