“AN INTRIGUING STORY SUPPORTED BY SEAMLESS WRITING.”—Publishers Weekly
THEY STOLE A BOY FROM THE PAST—
To the astounded world of contemporary Earth, he is a beast, a Neanderthal ape-boy torn from the primordial past. But to his nurse and protector, he is something much more than a time-travel experiment. Edith Fellowes took the job with Stasis Technologies with the understanding that the nursing job would definitely be temporary…but all that changed upon meeting “Timmie,” the lonely boy whose every friend and relative—even his whole race—was 40,000 dead.
—AND CONSIGNED HIM TO THE FUTURE
Then Edith discovers the scientists’ true intentions, and she forms a bizaare and daring plan. At stake is Timmie’s very existence…and her own.
This is the second of the three expansions to novel length of shorter works by Asimov, done by Robert Silverberg.
Silverberg is a master of science fiction in his own right and has shown a unique talent for “rewriting” other people’s works and making them remain fresh and interesting. His most notable successes in my eyes are “In Another Country” from the March 1989 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, which is a retelling of “Vintage Season” by Lawrence O’Donnell—a pen name used by the husband-wife team of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore—and The Positronic Man, his third and final Asimov novelization.
In this case, the novel version of the tale remains interesting and retains much of the emotional impact of the original.
On the other hand, it is not nearly as good as the original. Much of the expansion is created by interleaving the tale of Edith Fellowes and Timmy the Ape-Boy with the adventures of Timmy’s Neanderthal tribe from the time of his mysterious disappearance to his equally mysterious return. Although one is glad that Silverberg chose not to tell us what happened to Miss Fellowes and Timmy after they arrived in the distant past, one is still annoyed with the irrelevant and rather uninteresting story of these people.
Much of the remainder of the expansion is obtained by fleshing out details, and by and large this adds to the story’s verisimilitude, shoring up some weak plot points. A subplot involving a conflict with a children’s advocacy group is added which is, however, more a distraction. While it is true that Asimov’s story suffers from the presumption that nobody outside Stasis, Inc. is pro-Timmie, Silverberg’s handling of this point doesn’t really solve the problem and only manages to highlight its existence.
In the end, although this book is certainly not a waste of time or paper, one is far better off to simply read the original and not worry about the novelization.