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    Copyright 1963/1964

    Chester W. Chester is a nice guy but he's got a problem. He owes more in taxes on the old mansion he inherits than he's worth. For old times sake, and for a last bottle of his great-uncle's wine, he and his friend Case visit the mansion and check out the computer his great-uncle had built. The computer turns out to be a lot more sophisticated than Chester had counted on. Case and Chester start to come up with ideas--the computer's display is so sophisticated they might actually be able to pull off a hoax that they had a working time machine.

    Before they can stop to think, Chester, Case, and a beautiful woman who just happens to be the voice of the computer are wisked off to the ancient past and captured by cave men. Chester's tax problems start to look pretty small. In a series of escapes, Chester shows more resourcefulness than he had imagined he had, and becomes a far more interesting character.

    In THE GREAT TIME MACHINE HOAX, Keith Laumer (see more reviews of novels by this author) has written an amusing and thoughtful story. Chester is everyman who, faced with impossible challenges, at first flees, then learns to deal with them. HOAX can be seen as a classic HERO'S QUEST adventure, with a light touch.

    Although HOAX is not as well known to current Science Fiction readers as Laumer's Retrief series, it is a superior work. Written in the early 1960s, HOAX shows Laumer's remarkable forecasting abilities as well as some intriguing thoughts on philosophy and human development. If you can find this book, grab it. You'll like it. (Note 2/25/04: on Eric Flint's site, I see that he is proposing to re-edit and re-issue this classic. I hope so.)

    Four Stars

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    THE GREAT TIME MACHINE HOAX is available for FREE as part of the Baen Library publication, KEITH LAUMER: THE LIGHTER SIDE (see our review).as a FREE eBook from publisher Baen. Check it out here.