Monday, June 3, 2019

"Time Travel Has Its Moments, but It's a Tough Way to Make a Buck"

   "A TIME DETECTIVE is a strange person. He's got to be. Some people can handle paradoxes; some can't. I'm one of the few who can, that's all."

   That's Ben Hardy telling us about his qualifications as a temporal investigator—and it's a good thing he can tolerate paradoxes, because he's going to run into quite a few of them in his three known adventures: an identity crisis to end all identity crises, a plot to collapse all of reality, and unless he does something fast, there'll be—no kidding—a sterilized Earth populated only by blonds. In case you're wondering, Ben's time machine isn't a phone booth or a sports car or even a hot tub—just what it is, however, that's something you'll have to read for yourself.
   Our author, Warren M. Salomon, a lawyer by profession, told the editors at Asimov's that after the third Ben Hardy story there would be no more of them, and, true to his word, there haven't been any.
   (Note: It's best to read these novelettes in publication order.)


   "I don't change history for my clients. I can, but I won't."

"Time and Punishment."
By Warren M. Salomon (born 1943).
Illustrations by Jim Bearcloud (1949-2008; HERE).
First appearance: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction 
Magazine, May 11, 1981.
Novelette (44 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archive (HERE; scroll down to PDF page 122, magazine page 120) and (HERE).
(Parental caution: Mild profanity.)
     "Are you telling me that someone has tampered with reality to do you out of your inheritance?"

What do Electra, Jocasta, Antigone, and Linda Honeywell have in common? Just ask Patricia Wadsworth. Better still, ask Ben Hardy. If anybody would have a reason to know, it's him . . .
~ Ben Hardy:
  "I've seen what happens when people try to pull reality apart, and it isn't pleasant."
~ Patricia Wadsworth:
  "She giggled all the way, the whole thirty years."
~ Linda Honeywell:
  ". . . lifted up her veil and her gaze met mine, the grave of her husband yawning between us. She smiled . . ."
~ Creighton Despard:
  "Anyone can adjust to being ruler of the world, don't you think?"
~ Aabner Aabbott:
  "For twenty years, people have tried to make sense out of Aabbott, and no one has succeeded."
Typos: "events occured"; "as we retured"; "I doesn't have to be".

~ ~ ~
   "You think you've got troubles? You don't know what troubles are. No one does unless he's in my line of work. Trouble is my business. I'm a time detective."

"Time on My Hands."
By Warren Salomon (born 1943).
Illustrations by Artifact (HERE) and Val Lakey 
[Lindahn] (born 1951; HERE).
First appearance: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction 
Magazine, October 1982.
Novelette (40 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Parental caution: Mild profanity.)
     "Beautiful women seem to defy the law of gravity. When they fall, they move up."

What's the easiest way to eliminate the competition? Vito and Max know, and they're the competition . . .

~ Ben Hardy:

  "It's times like this when I think I'm in the wrong business."
~ Candy Goodbody ("It's my real name"):
  "Her voice flowed over me and set my nervous system throbbing, as if I were a tuning fork made just for her."
~ Vito Gillotte:
  "You're not the law, and you're not the competition. You're nuthin'. I can rub you out any time I want. Understand?"
~ Max Finkheim:
  "But see to it that you stay out of my way in this matter. Is that clear?"
~ Chester Semester:
  "He seemed quite frightened when I grabbed him."
Typos: "Either one of them may try try"; "or it it were the other way around".

- For the Battle of Zama, see Wikipedia (HERE); also see the Amazing Bible Timeline (HERE) and Wikipedia (HERE and HERE) for some of Alexander the Great's military activities in the Middle East.
- Ever since it happened, the miraculous parting and crossing of the Red Sea (Bible account HERE) has made people nervous enough to try to rationalize the event (Wikipedia HERE).
~ ~ ~
   "Outwardly I'm callous, aloof, very professional. That impresses a lot of people, but not women. They can sense things. So I go my own way. That's how it has to be in my business. I'm a time detective."

"As Time Goes By."
By Warren Salomon (born 1943).
Illustrations by Val [Lakey] Lindahn (born 1951; HERE).
First appearance: Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction 
Magazine, February 1984.
Novelette (34 pages).
Online at (HERE).
(Parental caution: Mild profanity.)
     ". . . you have to remember that a kiss is still a kiss, and a sigh is still a sigh, and the fundamentals always apply—as time goes by. Yeah. Except it doesn't always work out that way."

"Dames," says Ben, speaking from experience. "Why am I always attracted to the kind that can rip through men like a chainsaw?" We may never know . . .

~ Ben Hardy:

  "Not tonight, okay? I've got a headache."
~ Mad Mike Mackin:
  ". . . hey, fellows, Sam Spade's here."
~ Bonnie Cockburn:
  "Beneath the bag, which she shifted slightly so I couldn't help but notice, she palmed a nasty-looking handgun."
~ Leon Aeon:
  "The future already exists, and it belongs to me."
~ Malcolm McGovern:

  "Then he looked around, saw a nearby tavern, and changed direction."
More resources:
- Our author's bibliography is on the ISFDb (HERE).
- As for "laws of time travel," see Niven's "law" (Wikipedia HERE); also see Sean Carroll's Discover Magazine article, "The Real Rules for Time Travelers" (HERE), as well as "Time Travel Tropes" at TV Tropes (HERE); and finally visit Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets megasite (HERE) for why the idea of time travel has plenty of problems associated with it.

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