Saturday, February 27, 2010

16. The Lincoln Hunters by Wilson Tucker



I'm always hunting for Wilson Tucker's elusive "Wild Talent" which is considered one of the early if not first esp-empowered man novels. The Lincoln Hunters was a light and enjoyable read, but didn't blow my socks off. It takes place in a bland future where prolonged unemployment means a mandatory banishment to a work colony and early death. A monopoly controls time travel and goes back in the distant (and largely forgotten) past to pick up memorabilia or record events, mainly for business or entertainment reasons. The agents who go back in time are special people who don't quite fit in with the rest of society. It's a fun premise, but I never felt connected to the protagonist and so ultimately didn't care too much about his troubles. He goes back in time to attempt to record a famous lost speech by Lincoln and through some screw-up by the engineers and a wayward colleague, ends up racing to avoid a time paradox.

Part of my separation from the characters was again because of an excessive use of that late 50's early 60s slang. In this case, the agents were always quoting from Shakespeare it all just seemed forced and kind of annoying. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as Venus Plus X, but it was in a similar vein. I'm sure every period has its argot, but it should be used in the appropriate place, where there is a reason for it. Layering your very era-specific colloquial mode of speaking on a future society just seems like an obviously bad choice. I may have to take a break from science fiction for a while, until I can find some authors who know how to write dialogue a bit more naturally.

2 comments:

Doc said...

If you like ESP as a power, you should read The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. (Hell, you should read it regardless.)

WalkerP said...

Noted. I'll add it to my list. Thanks for the recommendation.