Time Is the Simplest Thing

Clifford D. Simak
Time Is the Simplest Thing Cover

Time Is the Simplest Thing


This extraordinary novel reminded me why Clifford D. Simak is and has been one of my top tier writers. This novel was published in 1961, during some of the most dramatic upheavals in America's history. It hardly ever gets spoken of in the press or in any media, but for a country that uses the word freedom so much, it hasn't been that way for much of its own population. So two years before Martin Luther King made his "I have a dream" speech, Clifford D. Simak wrote this novel about intolerance and hatred. He couched it in terms that would fly in those days, changing race for paranormal abilities, such as telepathy, telekinesis and the like. These people, in the novel, were hunted down, and even in a tense scene in the novel, the main character, Shepherd Blaine, is in the process of being lynched for being a "parry".

The premise of the novel besides the tongue in cheek metaphors is that humanity cannot travel to space. His technology has failed to make it possible to navigate through the radiation belts surrounding Earth. However, by tapping into the few people that show paranormal abilities, mankind is able to travel the stars, by mind. Somehow, not explained, man is able to travel to the stars in a relative instant, and with the aid of a machine is able to sense this alien world and take back data to Earth, thereby supplying Earth with all sorts of new food items, technological advancements and the like, but always under the monopolistic control of Fishhook, the company in charge of this technology.

Shepherd Blain was a "fisherman" one of the elite few able to travel to the stars, and when he is exploring the latest planet, he comes across a species of life no-one has met before, and just before Shepherd is whisked back to Earth (they are on a time limit, when the time expires, back they come.) this new entity, "trades" minds with Shep. When Shep wakes up back on Earth, he feels the presence of the alien still in his mind. This is against all the rules of Fishhook, and Shep has to go on the lam.

The novel follows Shep and his adventures with this alien presence in an America that has little to no tolerance of anything that reeks of paranormal abilities. This could have been a maudlin storyline if not for Clifford D. Simak's deft wording and plot lines. He is able to get you into the action and feel the hatred and fear that is woven throughout the story. I highly recommend this novel.