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Time's Last Gift by Philip Jose Farmer

01/07/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Time's Last Gift in the USA - or Buy Time's Last Gift in the UK

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pub: Titan Books. 266 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $ 9.95 (US), $11.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-85768-965-8.

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'Time's Last Gift' is an oddity even by Philip Josť Farmer's standards. A time travel ship from 2070 AD goes to 12,000 BC to learn about the ancient Magdalenian culture. Led by John Gribardsun, his team of three spend four years there, joining the tribe who sees them as wizards and getting them to join up with another tribe and travel around Europe. Although there are the occasional minor ructions from within the crew, this story is very much written as an archaeological science story than the expected Science Fiction. That isn't to say that there isn't an SF element, other than time travel, but that's a major spoiler for the end, which is explained by Christopher Paul Carey in the afterward. As it's also part of the 'Wold Newton' series which should give some clue. I suspect you'll also have some suspicions as to just who John Gribardsun actually is as you peruse. Reading this book, I did wonder if Farmer had modelled him on Charlton Heston because if they had filmed this when he was alive, he would have been perfectly cast.

Farmer is always good for a read and once you're hooked in, this is a great page-turner, especially as he ensures you think of these people as humans amongst an ancient tribe. We see similar things recorded on TV these days but considering the book was originally published in 1972, such things were barely thought of back then. A lesson in how to write down-to-earth fiction in a realistic way.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 39 votes in the sci-fi charts

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