Tunnel Through Time (1966) by Lester Del Rey

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Tunnel Through Time (1966) by Lester Del Rey

Post  BoG on Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:23 pm

TUNNEL THROUGH TIME - a juvenile sci-fi novel about time travel
by Lester Del Rey Arrow 160 pgs.

This was one of the earliest sci-fi novels I read, when I was about 10 years old. It's aimed at kids, a juvenile sf novel, though it has some surprisingly brutal sequences towards the end, involving primitive behavior. I still have the 3rd paperback edition from 1970 (pictured above). The two main characters, Bob and Pete, are teens, so readers of that age and younger can instantly relate to the two protagonists as they adventure through a prehistoric land of man-eating dinosaurs.

In the plot, Bob's dad, Sam Miller, has invented a time ring; it's a circular device that, when people or objects step within or are placed in its boundaries, sends them to a distant past. There's a perhaps major stumbling block very quickly; Pete's dad, Doc Tom, a fellow scientist involved in the project, was the first one to go through as a test run and does not return as scheduled. Now a decision needs to be made on who to send after the missing scientist. As unlikely as it seems, Bob and Pete are the most viable options - Sam Miller can't go because he needs to stay and oversee the instruments; the other two assistants are too old.

The story is told in 1st person from Bob's perspective; it's young man's adventure and he's speaking directly to the reader. The characterizations are fairly strong for such a juvenile; Bob is the athlete, the jock, but he's not a numbskull compared to Pete, the brain and geek who is not a frail weakling. It's mostly straightforward adventure - wilderness adventure in most ways and juvenile - though with some later twists involving time hopping to later eras. There's the suspense aspect, as we wait to see if Doc Tom is to be found. Also, Del Rey manages to insert a few adult passages such as this:
"We're sitting here," I said, "but we're not even born yet. That makes everything real crazy."
"No, it doesn't," Pete replied quietly. "It just proves that the knowledge we base all our so-called truths on is faulty. It's what we see or think we see that's crazy. Not truth. Not reality."
"Uh-huh. Do you suppose we'll ever really know?"
"I doubt it. Man keeps discovering truths - truth here - truth there. But always a truth. Never the truth. Do you get what I mean?"
Maybe - it depends on how philosophical one is. Pete suggests that philosophy trumps exact science for now. "What are we doing here?" he asks later - rhetorically, we suppose. Note: the write-up on this novel at Wikipedia is very erroneous even in its brevity. BoG's Grade: 7
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