Tag Archive: Philip K. Dick’s Time Out of Joint


Review by C.J. Bunce

Is it possible Ursula K. Le Guin’s first novels were her greatest works of fantasy and science fiction?  The author, one of both genre’s greatest contributors, revisited the “Hainish” world she created multiple times over the course of her 60 years as an American novelist  The scope of these stories is grand and her writing style immediate and urgent.  Is this a world of our own future, or of a future combined with other worlds?  She keeps the possibilities open, something like Planet of the Apes.  In three novels, Rocannon’s World, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions–published from 1966 to 1967 in lengths that likely would be considered novellas today–she exhibits a deep understanding of all the important components of culture, while digging mercilessly into what traits best define mankind across time.  The trilogy, re-issued with a new foreword as part of MacMillan Publishing’s Tor Essentials library under the title Worlds of Exile and Illusion, is now available here at Amazon.  What does it take to be able to present brilliant fantasy and science fiction in a single vision?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Rod Serling, eat your heart out.  Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone writers could take some pointers from Eddie Robson′s new novel, Hearts of Oak It’s a far-out science fiction novel with all the right notes of a good supernatural fantasy.  And it has an easy pace and an impending, looming darkness waiting ahead that will keep you planted firmly in your seat until you get to the last page.  Borrowing its title from the popular, age-old song of the British Navy, here the cryptic “hearts of oak” says a lot about the rollercoaster ride for readers that lies ahead.

Taking a cue from the stark, detached, and quirky science fiction mysteries of Adam Christopher’s robot detective in books like Killing is My Business (reviewed previously here at borg), readers, and the protagonists, never quite know what is real and who is real.  What we do know is Iona Taylor has been an architect so long everyone knows her and respects her as the very best there is.  But she is having a particularly bad week as her colleague has died in the collapse of a building.  As she contemplates attending his funeral a new student inquires about private tutoring, and when the student leaves her hat behind the feeling of felt texture in the hat conjures something surreal for Iona–a strange feeling tugging at her, maybe even loosening some long forgotten memories.  After a strange event at the funeral and the destruction of yet another building, Iona is called by the authorities not for her advice, but for questioning, becoming a target of the investigation.  When the prospective student vanishes, Iona must play detective to clear herself, but she might not like what she finds.

Eddie Robson, a writer of Doctor Who and other radio plays and non-fiction works about movies, is a good storyteller.  His narrative reads like a fantasy fable of a king with a talking cat who advises him, in an enchanted city of expansive buildings and replenished resources centered around creating ever higher architecture so the king may relocate his rooms at the very top.  The book evokes parts of great science fiction stories and films of the past without pulling too much from any of them.  But fans of all these works will find some surprisingly good fun in Hearts of Oak: Planet of the Apes, Tron: Legacy, Humans, Alien, Snowpiercer, The Truman Show, Philip K. Dick’s Time Out of Joint, a flip on Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan and The Matrix, and a few episodes of your favorite sci-fi TV shows, especially The Twilight Zone.

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