OFF THE SHELF: "Race Against Time"

by Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Race Against TimeOnce again we return to Piers Anthony with another stand-alone science fiction novel. Piers is one of the most common names in the science fiction and fantasy genres and you can find multitudes of his work from multi-book series to stand alone science fiction. He worked mostly during the modern heyday of science fiction and fantasy in the 1970s and 1980s and his popularity continues today, with such recent attempts as Dooon Mode, The Dastard and his autobiography How Precious Was That While.

It seems to me that Race Against Time is an earlier work - not only did it come out in 1973, it is also obviously lacking in the finesse and style that Anthony is said to have in his later novels. It takes on a circa-Star Wars space saga angle. The plot is quite good, and will have conspiracy theorists enjoying the basics of the book. But it is treated with a childishness and unoriginality that I found lacking. Piers took a perfectly good book idea and built onto a teenage space-saga boorishness that in the end leaves you quite unfulfilled.

The book's ending was rather good, with subtle explanations of current Standards of living on Earth around 2300 AD. The time period however, since we're already in this millennium, dates the book badly as you wonder how everything that supposedly has occurred in the history of this milieu couldn't have done so in the span of 300 years. It would have been better if Piers didn't fully set the date/time in this version of Earth as stringently as he did. Another issue is the technology of the era. Interesting both in form, function and décor, but lacking in the way of definition.

I'm not sure I agree with the racial segregation and purity issues that Piers supposes in Race Against Time, but it's a neat angle and an interesting thing to think about even if you have to rifle through 250+ (paperback) pages of teenager-ish verbiage. If you're into the space drama style, and have a thing for Luke Skywalker in particular as one of our main characters here (John) not only reminds you of the same, but according to the cheesy cover even looks the same, then by all means have at it. But if your palate for science fiction requires more of a refined and deeper approach, then might I suggest a foray into Asimov, Heinlein or Bester rather than earlier works of Piers Anthony.

Later works of Piers? The jury is out…until I have read some.

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Buy Race Against Time

"Race Against Time" by Piers Anthony
Published by Tom Doherty Associates (a Tor Book)
Copyright © 1973 by Piers Anthony
ISBN 0-812-53111-6

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