My life in outer space

Time to Live – John T Phillifent (as John Rackham) (1966)

timetolive copy

‘To conquer death, learn to live again.


To the man in the weird bubble-car, its design was only part of the nightmare. He dabbed and pulled frantically at strange things like paddles, saw the winding road swinging and twisting in front of him, tried to turn a corner, but didn’t make it.
When he awoke, the Earthan remembered the madness of that speeding chase – yet he knew the worst of it was his inabiity to recall who he was, where he was, and why he was being chased.
Then a lulling voice spoke inside his head: ‘You are on Kalmed; I’m Aporia. Your people say you’ve killed one of my fellow Kalmedans…’
Somehow the Earthan knew he was no murderer – but he sensed something chillingly unfamiliar in the interaction of his mind and the body it inhabited…’

Blurb from the 1966 Ace doubles G-606 paperback edition.

A young man finds himself at the wheel of a speeding vehicle on an alien world, not knowing how he got there or, more importantly, who he is. When he crashes, he is found and rescued by one of the indigenous humanoids: Aporia, an artist of sorts. The world is Kalmed, where a small community of humans live.
The young man, a spacer called Jim Hart, has it seems been accused of murdering one of the native inhabitants.
The Kalmedans have certain psi-powers and Aporia senses that there is something not right about the man she has rescued. Not only can he remember nothing of what he has done or who he is, he seems to have a personality that does not belong in the body it is inhabiting.
The plot thickens when the young man is taken in by what serves as the Kalmedan authorities, is sprung by his former shipmates who he does not recall. He and Aporia then go on the run. She has realised that she needs to take him on a journey across her planet in order to prove her suspicions to herself and her people.
Phillifent employs the device of the amnesiac hero cleverly here as the alien planet is seen through the eyes of someone who has – to all intents and purposes – forgotten all he has experienced of it. The reader and Jim Hart are therefore introduced to this world together.
It’s also a murder mystery of sorts, although the concept of murder and the question of who, if anyone, has been murdered, become somewhat fluid by the time one reaches the denouement.


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