Frederik Pohl's Missing A Conclusion From THE OTHER END OF TIME
Nov 19, 2010
Personally, I think it's difficult to make much out of Frederik Pohl's THE OTHER END OF TIME largely because, come the inevitable Twilight Zone-ish conclusion in the last few paragraphs -- the book serves essentially as a 300-plus-page set-up for novels that could follow. As a result, there's very little here to sink your science fiction teeth into, despite the author's briefly informative afterward dealing with the scientific theory of tachyons AND his interpretation of them in the novel.
There are so many elements presented in OTHER END that Pohl lays out asking the reading to take for granted: the leader "adventurer," Dan Dannerman, is a secret agent for a national organization, though the United States appears to have been broken up into individual countries; Dannerman's background and behavior certainly don't indicate that he possesses any grand training to serve as a secret agent, as he's always arguing with his handling about the best way to go about doing his job; the dissolution of the United States is never touched upon or given any explanation; and the "evil alien presence" of the Horch are never given any sincere, straight-forward motivation ... indeed, one could argue that they're never truly shown as being evil. Other ideas are given some exploration, but due to the book's inability to reach a conclusion (or, at least, a satisfying one)it's difficult to offer up more than a few casual observations on the main topics. Lesser topics -- cloning, alien abduction, group/think -- are given far more face time, but only the struggle for personal identity in an age of duplicating humans is truly given enough print space to elevate the book above average.
As Pohl was in his earlier works of GATEWAY and BEYOND THE BLUE EVENT HORIZON, the author seems overtly fixated on "commerce" and "capitalism." His identifiable characters -- Robinette Broadhead in GATEWAY and Pat/Patzy/Patrice in OTHER END -- are visibly obsessed with attaining wealth. To my surprise, Pohl never seems to comment on their desires for riches, though, and, a sad consequence, these largely interesting female leads tend to appear as little more than shallow gold-diggers. If there is an obvious message here about the pursuit of money, then I have to admit I'm missing it.
Still, there are large passages here that are truly vintage Pohl. His observations about his characters in the world they inhabit are worth exploration; I just wish THE OTHER END OF TIME truly explained how "time" factored into his grand equation. When the back of the book promises "the only sure thing is that the winners will rule eternity at the Other End of Time" yet delivers no conclusion nor any involvement with eternity whatsoever, the whole tour de force ends up being a tour de farce.
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