Up the Line

Up the Line

by Robert Silverberg

Being a Time Courier was one of the best jobs Judson Daniel Elliott III ever had.

Trickier still was avoiding the temptation to become intimately involved with the past and interfere with events to come.

So Judson Daniel Elliott played by the book.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Science Fiction
  • Rating: 3.74
  • Pages: 240
  • Publish Date: June 4th 2002 by ibooks
  • Isbn10: 0743444973
  • Isbn13: 9780743444972

What People Think about "Up the Line"

There is just going to be sex in a Silverberg work, lots of it, and this one has all the sensitivity of a bawdy limerick, reminiscent of Heinleins Time Enough for Love and All You Zombies readers of those books will instantly know what Im talking about. A fascination with and an adept knowledge of Byzantium colors Silverbergs canon and this work characterizes that affinity as much of the novel is of history tours of Constantinople.

Up the Line: Fornicating in ancient Byzantium shameless time travel porn Originally posted at Fantasy Literature Robert Silverberg was clearly a big fan of sex back in the late 1960s, and Im sure he wasnt the only one. He doesnt miss a chance for his (all male) characters to fornicate with women at every possible opportunity both in the future and the past, in dozens of exotic time periods in Byzantium, Constantinople, Rome, etc. The act may be as old as time, but that doesnt stop Time Courier Judd Elliot from trying to bed his great-great-great grandmother Pulcharia with a lusty enthusiasm and complete disregard for all social taboos that have existed for millenia. At least that is the irreverent tone this book tries to achieve, billing its main character as the Tom Jones of Time Travel. So our intrepid hero Judd Elliot gets recruited into the business and initially goes along with a senior Time Courier to learn the trade. 1) Keep interactions with people of that time period to a minimum, to avoid altering history and thus the future. Well, as you can imagine, every one of those rules gets violated (no pun intended) over and over, and the time paradoxes start to pile up as the story proceeds, with multiple versions of different characters crowding various time periods, sometimes recognizing each other and sometimes not. The key conceit in Silverbergs book is that time lines can be repeatedly edited and fixed retroactively, so that you can go back in time and, for instance, kill your great grandfather, but you will not instantly disappear while you are back in the past. You may have erased your future self by altering the time line, but your physical time-traveling self remains. That means that history can be altered, such as going back and killing Hitler in the cradle, but the Time Patrol routinely goes up and down the line to monitor the flow of history, and since they are outside of time they retain memory of the main time line and if they find alterations they will relentlessly pursue the offender, go back in time, stop them from their meddling, and punish them in the future (including termination). Silverberg carefully explains how it is that the Crucifixion can have literally thousands of time tourists attending, disguised in period attire, including the same Time Couriers bringing group after group, without overwhelming the actual people of the time or blowing their cover.

2) The amount of sex in this book is really very unfortunate. 5) The time travel gimmickry may have been cutting-edge back in the day, but today's audience is a bit more savvy.

He's grumpy because he would rather be sneaking back another century in time to screw a distant relative named Pulcheria. (Did Silverberg get these names from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum?) The book is untroubled by plot until the last fifty pages or so. As a history lesson, John Julius Norwich's three volume history of Byzantium could not possibly be a tedious as the first 200 pages of Up the Line.

You know my favorite thing about reading time-travel books is the paradoxes. I like a good yarn with a lot of temporal paradoxes. It also had a lot more Greek history than I cared to know. You know your Byzantium history. He didn't, in other words, need to know the future tech he wrote about.

I say 'sadly' because when I first read this book (in the mid-1970s ...) I enjoyed it immensely.

Even better he shamelessly puts himself in the fantasy as the main character- a short of stature, always hip to the scene, sexually adventurous NY Jew who just can't work for the Man. So this guy is a tour guide for time-travelling tourists that go back to watch battles, coronations, and other moments of interest. At one point he is pursuing his own great-many-times grandmother.

This book would have been just as enjoyable with a "PG-13" rating instead of "R." I'm giving this book four stars primarily based on its time travel content and its imaginative ending (which some might argue is a little unorthodox).

I also liked the creative ending.