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A Fire In The Sun + Time Scout series Reviewed

A Fire In The Sun by George Alec Effinger

This is a dystopian cyberpunk novel from 1990. The Budayeen is a ghetto of vice and violence. Self pitying former hustler Marid Audran has become a protégé of crime lord Friedlander Bey. Now Marid is uncovering threats to his patron. Marid has to wade through the decadence and filth, win back his friends and uncover secrets. This is good and enjoyable. But Marid is the biggest whining self pitying loser in the cyberpunk genre.

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Time Scout is a four book series by Robert Asprin and Linda Evans. Sadly the series seems to have ended with book 4 in 2001. Also Asprin has passed away so the plot threads left hanging in book 4 seem unlikely to be resolved. This is a fantastic series about an organisation that does time travel tourism through stable time gates.

The back-story of the formation of the time gates is silly as is some of the world building. However the scenes set in the past and hints of an emerging bigger picture are what make this series even if some of the characters are sexist and moronic.

In the first book ‘Time Scout’, a really irritating teenager named Margo stomps around demanding to become the first female time scout. Time Scouts are those who explore newly opened gates. To live long enough to retire is rare in their business. Margo is rude, demanding, is quite frankly stupid and has a massive sense of entitlement and privilege.

She manages to guilt trip her way onto tours to Victorian London and Ancient Rome. She acts out on both tours and then on an illegal jaunt to 1542, she ends up in real trouble. This was good.

The second book ‘Wagers of Sin’ focuses on Skeeter Jackson. He is a con man who once fell through an unstable gate and met a young Genghis Kahn. He uses that as an excuse for his grifting useless life. Somehow Skeeter has evaded any punishment for his role in the terrible events of book 1. Now Skeeter causes more trouble on a tour in Ancient Rome and is followed back through the time gate by a pissed off gladiator. Skeeter finally realises some self actualisation is called for in his life. This was good.

The third book ‘Ripping Time’ focuses on Jenna who is on the run from assassins. She disguises herself as a man and hides in London of 1888. Meanwhile time tourists explore the wild west and there is a kidnapping. This was good.

The fourth and sadly final book ‘The House That Jack Built’ sees a political conspiracy threaten the Time Terminal. A cult that worships Jack the Ripper invades the Terminal and some time tourists are about to find out first hand the identity of Jack the Ripper. This was good. I miss this series. Linda Evans also wrote the excellent time travel novel ‘Far Edge of Darkness’.
Tags: 2nd hand book store find, book review
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