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The Man from Time   By: (1903-1994)

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The method by which one man might be pinpointed in the vastness of all Eternity was the problem tackled by the versatile Frank Belknap Long in this story. And as all minds of great perceptiveness know, it would be a simple, human quality he'd find most effective even in solving Time Space.

the man from time

by ... Frank Belknap Long

Deep in the Future he found the answer to Man's age old problem.

Daring Moonson, he was called. It was a proud name, a brave name. But what good was a name that rang out like a summons to battle if the man who bore it could not repeat it aloud without fear?

Moonson had tried telling himself that a man could conquer fear if he could but once summon the courage to laugh at all the sins that ever were, and do as he damned well pleased. An ancient phrase that damned well. It went clear back to the Elizabethan Age, and Moonson had tried picturing himself as an Elizabethan man with a ruffle at his throat and a rapier in his clasp, brawling lustily in a tavern.

In the Elizabethan Age men had thrown caution to the winds and lived with their whole bodies, not just with their minds alone. Perhaps that was why, even in the year 3689, defiant names still cropped up. Names like Independence Forest and Man, Live Forever!

It was not easy for a man to live up to a name like Man, Live Forever! But Moonson was ready to believe that it could be done. There was something in human nature which made a man abandon caution and try to live up to the claims made for him by his parents at birth.

It must be bad, Moonson thought. It must be bad if I can't control the trembling of my hands, the pounding of the blood at my temples. I am like a child shut up alone in the dark, hearing rats scurrying in a closet thick with cobwebs and the tapping of a blind man's cane on a deserted street at midnight.

Tap, tap, tap nearer and nearer through the darkness. How soon would the rats be swarming out, blood fanged and wholly vicious? How soon would the cane strike?

He looked up quickly, his eyes searching the shadows. For almost a month now the gleaming intricacies of the machine had given him a complete sense of security. As a scholar traveling in Time he had been accepted by his fellow travelers as a man of great courage and firm determination.

For twenty seven days a smooth surface of shining metal had walled him in, enabling him to grapple with reality on a completely adult level. For twenty seven days he had gone pridefully back through Time, taking creative delight in watching the heritage of the human race unroll before him like a cineramoscope under glass.

Watching a green land in the dying golden sunlight of an age lost to human memory could restore a man's strength of purpose by its serenity alone. But even an age of war and pestilence could be observed without torment from behind the protective shields of the Time Machine. Danger, accidents, catastrophe could not touch him personally.

To watch death and destruction as a spectator in a traveling Time Observatory was like watching a cobra poised to strike from behind a pane of crystal bright glass in a zoological garden.

You got a tremendous thrill in just thinking: How dreadful if the glass should not be there! How lucky I am to be alive, with a thing so deadly and monstrous within striking distance of me!

For twenty seven days now he had traveled without fear. Sometimes the Time Observatory would pinpoint an age and hover over it while his companions took painstaking historical notes. Sometimes it would retrace its course and circle back. A new age would come under scrutiny and more notes would be taken.

But a horrible thing that had happened to him, had awakened in him a lonely nightmare of restlessness. Childhood fears he had thought buried forever had returned to plague him and he had developed a sudden, terrible dread of the fogginess outside the moving viewpane, the way the machine itself wheeled and dipped when an ancient ruin came sweeping toward him... Continue reading book >>

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