A Review of The Other End of Time

The Other End of TimeThe Other End of Time by Frederik Pohl

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Frederik Pohl’s The Other End of Time is a mediocre book with some promise, some potential, but it never seems to reach it. It’s like one long drawn out scene book-ended by the beginning and end of the book, and after awhile it gets boring.

Dan Dannerman, the main character, is a secret agent for some national organization, although the United States appears to have been broken up into individual countries. Florida is its own country now, for instance. However, Dannerman’s background and behavior certainly don’t indicate that he possesses any significant training to serve as a CIA-type. He’s always lost in thought about how to best do something. He seems to be a man of minimal action. Another character, Chinese astronaut Jimmy Lin, is an oversexed horn dog whose constant horniness gets old VERY quickly. Another primary character, Pat, is a rich cousin of Dan (by marriage) who ends up falling for him during the book. They make love toward the end of the book, and I tried not to be too grossed out by it.

Dan, Pat, Jimmy and several others go up to a deserted space station thinking some extraterrestrial presence has found its way aboard, and they’re hoping to make a ton of money from this discovery. Turns out they’re right, but they’re taken captive and the main part of the book then begins: their imprisonment. At first they’re all naked and they have to urinate and defecate in front of the others on the floor of their prison (which swallows it up and makes the stuff disappear). I couldn’t buy Pat just dropping her pants and taking a crap on the floor in front of a bunch of other people. I found it extremely hard to believe. They’re visited regularly by Dopey, an alien, and other speechless ETs, who work for some Beloved Leaders while warring with the “evil” Horch. But we’re never sure that the Horch are evil. Turns out the Beloved Leaders torch planets whose citizens don’t bend to their will. These lucky people are sent to a type of heaven where everyone and everything eventually ends up.

Toward the end of the book, Dan and the others escape their prison because the attacking Horch have torched the power and allowed them to leave. Dopey and the other aliens catch up to them bearing the humans’ weapons, asking them to fight the Horch because they can’t. I’m not going to give away the end of the book, but it reads like a plug for a sequel, and naturally, there is one. (I think this is part of a trilogy.) I have the next book, but I’m not going to read it right away because I fear it might be as boring as this one. One thing, however, that was interesting was that the aliens can copy each other and the humans, so horny Jimmy is presented with two copies of Pat for “breeding” purposes, the irony being that neither will have anything to do with him. That was moderately interesting, but not enough to save the book. Frankly, I tend to like Pohl and think he’s written some fine stuff. I particularly like his short stories, but this book was dull and I think he’s capable of better. I don’t think I would recommend this book.

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