An Audio-Book Review: Sideways, Into the Present!


Last Enemy

By H. Beam Piper

Published by LibriVox

Read by Mark Nelson

The Story:

This interesting tale is another of Piper’s Paratime Series. I think it may have the third counting “He Walked Around the Horses.”  I reviewed “Police Operation last September, and then again, as part of a collection in December when I also reviewed “Temple Trouble” of the same series. Like all the others it features the cross-time adventures of Verkan Vall, of the Paratime Police. This story also introduces us to Hadron Dalla, Vall’s once and future wife who is a major character in later Paratime stories, including those involving Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen.

This time around Vall must travel to a second level time line, nearly as highly advanced technologically as First Level, but without the ability to travel sideways in time to other time lines. Instead, the people of this line not only believe in reincarnation, but have scientific proof that everyone reincarnates. There are two political factions, those who believe that reincarnation is a volitional process with discarnated people able to choose into what bodies they will reincarnate and those who believe that the process is entirely random, The Volitionalists want to keep the current system of government run by various noble families and the Statisicalists want a socialist state in which supposedly everyone will be equal socially.

With Dalla’s help they now have scientific proof not only validating the Vollitionalist theory by allowing the discarnated to communicate with those still living, but a technique by which a reincarnated person can remember  all his or her past lives. Naturally, the Statisticalists want her dead before the news of her discovery can be made widely known and Vall is sent there to get her out before she can be killed, because if she is killed she’ll also reincarnate on that time line and if so, her reincarnated self may want to know about her past lives is which case the Paratime Secret (that people for the First Level are everywhere, doing business, manipulating society etc. all around us and are utterly undetectable from us) will be revealed. The Paracops most important job is to preserve that secret.

It’s a fairly good story on a number of levels and, like so many of Piper’s stories tends to leave one thinking in a good way.

The Audiobook:

Once again Mark Nelson has delivered an excellent reading. He is easy to listen to, do not take liberties with the author’s work and subtly differentiates each of the characters without resorting to funny-sounding voices.

So we have an interesting story and a superb reading of it. This one I definitely recommend along with the rest of the series!

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