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Authors: John Varley


“Varley is a mind-grabber.”
—Roger Zelazny

Praise for

is an inventive time-travel story….The premise is strong and satisfying.”

New York Times

] is Varley’s considerable accomplishment, and he pulls it off with admirably lean prose, realistic dialogue, and the concise depiction of sympathetic characters. Varley inserts familiar products, cartoons, tough street talk, slicing metaphor out of the workaday world and garnishes it with biting humor. There are clever plot twists…and a climax of truly unmitigated spectacle. Adult and child alike can drink deeply of John Varley’s heady brew.”

Washington Post Book World

Praise for

“This is an engrossing novel by one of the genre’s most accomplished storytellers.”

Publishers Weekly

“[Varley is] one of the very best at conveying a sense of reality and genuine community in his creations…I hope that Varley’s next novel won’t be quite so long in coming, but if it’s as good as
The Golden Globe
, it will be well worth the wait.”

—Don D’Ammassa,
Science Fiction Chronicle

“Blending satire, sentiment, and cold-blooded ethical calculus, Varley shows mankind persisting and flourishing even when booted off their homeworld…Varley achieves new angles of interest and new insights into his futuristic society…diverting…intriguing…well-executed…I eagerly await the next raft down the river of stars.”

—Paul Di Filippo,
Science Fiction Age

“Set in Varley’s ongoing universe, with its gender-bending pioneering and aspects that would have been called cyberpunk had the term been invented when Varley first appeared, this latest effort…lives up to his high standards.”


Also by John Varley…


“Let there be rejoicing: Varley’s back…Science fiction just doesn’t get much better than this.”

—Spider Robinson

“Varley has earned the mantle of Heinlein, and I hope he continues to wear it well.”


“One of the best science fiction novels of the year.”

Publishers Weekly

“A skillful science fiction epic beautifully told.”



“A seething monumental trilogy…Grand-scale entertainment—violent, witty, irreverent, tirelessly inventive…This’ll have readers guessing and gasping right up to the end.”

Kirkus Reviews


“Big, brassy and beautiful. I read the last page and muttered, ‘Wow.’”

—Michael Bishop

“Fast-paced and involving.”

Washington Post


“An extraordinary feat of storytelling.”

Fantasy Review




destroyed my preconceived ideas about science fiction…An epic climax.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Magnificent…I can’t tell you of all the adventure and glory and horror and laughter and sheer joy there is in reading this book.”

Fantasy Review

Books by John Varley

The Ophiuchi Hotline

The Persistence of Vision

Picnic on Nearside

(formerly titled
The Barbie Murders


Blue Champagne

Steel Beach

The Golden Globe

Red Thunder


Red Lightning

Rolling Thunder

Slow Apocalypse

The Gaean Trilogy




The John Varley Reader: Thirty Years of Short Fiction





Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

A Penguin Random House Company

An Ace Book / published by arrangement with Gladden Entertainment Corporation


Copyright © 1983 by MGM/UA Home Entertainment Group, Inc.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-65599-3


Berkley trade paperback edition / June 1983

Berkley mass-market edition / May 1985

Ace trade paperback edition / October 1999

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

To the Moroccans:
and one day,

Table of Contents


(1) “A Sound of Thunder”

(2) “‘All You Zombies—’”

(3) “Let’s Go to Golgotha”

(4) The Time Machine

(5) Famous Last Words

(6) “As Never Was”

(7) Guardians of Time

(8) “Me, Myself, and I”

(9) The Shadow Girl

(10) “The Man Who Came Early”

(11) Behold the Man

(12) The Productions of Time

(13) “As Time Goes By”

(14) “Poor Little Warrior!”

(15) “Compounded Interest”

(16) A Night to Remember

(17) “When We Went to See the End of the World”

(18) “The Twonky”

(19) Lest Darkness Fall

(20) The Night Land

(Epilogue) “All the Time in the World”

Prologue: The End of Eternity

Author’s Note

About the Author


Testimony of Louise Baltimore

The DC-10 never had a chance. It was a fine aircraft, even though at that point in time it was still under a cloud of controversy resulting from incidents in Paris and Chicago. But when you lose that much wing you’re no longer in a flying machine, you’re in an aluminum rock. That’s how the Ten came in: straight down and spiraling.

But the 747, as I was telling Wilbur Wright just the other day, ranks up there with the DC-3 Gooney Bird and the Fokker-Aerospatiale HST as one of the most reliable hunks of airframe ever designed. It’s true that this one came out of the collision in better shape than the DC-10, and there is no doubt it was mortally wounded. But the grand old whale managed to pull up into straight and level flight and maintain it. Who knows what might have been possible if that mountain hadn’t got in the way?

And it retained a surprising amount of structural integrity as it belly-flopped and rolled over—a maneuver no one at Boeing had envisioned in their design parameters. The proof of this could be seen in the state of the passengers: there were upwards of thirty bodies without a single limb detached. If it hadn’t caught fire, there might even have been some faces intact.

I’ve always thought it would be a spectacular show to witness in your final seconds. Would you really rather die in bed?

Well, maybe so. One way of dying is probably much like any other.

“A Sound of Thunder”

Testimony of Bill Smith

My phone rang just before one o’clock on the morning of December 10.

I could leave it there, just say my phone rang, but it wouldn’t convey the actual magnitude of the event.

I once spent seven hundred dollars for an alarm clock. It wasn’t an alarm clock when I bought it and it was a lot more than that when I got through with it. The heart of the thing was a World War Two surplus air-raid siren. I added items here and there and, when I was through, it would have given the San Francisco earthquake stiff competition as a means of getting somebody out of bed.

Later, I connected my second telephone to this doomsday machine.

I got the second phone when I found myself jumping every time the first one rang. Only six people at the office knew the number of the new phone, and it solved two problems very neatly. I stopped twitching at the sound of telephone bells, and I never again was awakened by somebody who came to the house to tell me that the alarm had come in, I had been called and failed to answer, and I had been replaced on the go-team.

I’m one of those people who sleep like the dead. Always have; my mother used to tumble me out of bed to get me to school. Even in the Navy, while all around me were losing sleep thinking about the flight deck in the morning, I could stack Z’s all night and have to be rousted out by the C.O.

Also, I do drink a bit.

You know how it is. First it’s just at parties. Then it’s a couple at the end of the day. After the divorce I started drinking alone, because for the first time in my life I was having trouble getting to sleep. And I
that’s one of the signs, but it’s
short of alcoholism.

But a pattern had developed of arriving late at the office and I figured I’d better do something about it before somebody higher up did. Tom Stanley recommended counseling, but I think my alarm clock worked just as well. There’s always a way to work out your problems if you’ll only take a look at them and then do what needs to be done.

For instance, when I found that three mornings in a row I had shut off my new alarm and gone back to sleep, I put the switch in the kitchen and tied it in to the coffeemaker. When you’re up and have the coffee perking, it’s too late to go back to sleep.

We all laughed about it at the office. Everybody thought it was cute. Okay, maybe rats running through a maze are cute, too. And maybe you’re perfectly well adjusted, without a single gear that squeaks or spring that’s wound too tight, and if so, I don’t want to hear about it. Tell it to your analyst.

So my phone rang.

So I sat up, looked around, realized it was still dark and knew this wasn’t the beginning of another routine day at the office. Then I grabbed the receiver before the phone could peel the second layer of paint off the walls.

I guess I took a while getting it to my ear. There had been a few drinks not too many hours before, and I’m not at my best when I wake up, even on a go-team call. I heard a hissing silence, then a hesitant voice.

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