the paradox men (1953)
(aka flight into yesterday, 1949)

charles harness: the paradox men

originally published in a 1949 "startling stories" pulp magazine under the name "flight into yesterday", from which it was expanded into novel length in 1953.

startling stories 1949
--- 1953
ace books 1955
faber & faber 1966
new english library 1976
crown sf 1984
easton press


Who is Alar the Thief? What has happened to his memory, and what is the origin of his strange powers? Is he the same man who stepped out of a mysterious space ship that crashed on Earth five years before as identical ship was scheduled to leave? And what of Keiris, the mysterious dark-eyed woman who hides Alar from his enemies? Who is behind the Meganet mind - a servant or destroyer of the dictatorship? What role are these people to play in upsetting the totalitarian Imperium that now strives to rule Earth in this grim year of A.D. 2177.

Charles L. Harness's novel mixes elements of the swashbuckling space adventure with the most esoteric ideas of time travel and culminates in a grandiose attempt to change the destiny of mankind. Its hero confronts a decadent world about to destroy itself, and he must undergo death and transfiguration at the edge of the Sun to rescue human history from its endless cycle of growth and decay and from the waste of tyranny.

A shorter version of Harness's story was first published in a 1949 issue of Startling Stories under the title Flight into Yesterday. An expanded hardcover version appeared in 1953, In 1955 editor Donald A. Wollheim retitled the story THE PARADOX MEN for a new Ace paperback.



"With Flight Into Yesterday, I had no idea where I was going when I started on Chapter One. Today they’d kill you if you had such a conceited idea that you could sit down and write anything saleable without knowing the end, but I didn’t even know the middle! I didn’t know Chapter Three!"
- Charles L. Harness, 1998

"The brilliant peak of Charles L. Harness's published work."
- Damon Knight

"The best exponent of the extensively recomplicated plot."
James Blish

"Fine swashbuckling adventure of space-and-time travel, the palace politics of tyranny, and the identity problems of an amnesiac superman..."
-Anthony Boucher

"A writer of intellect and power."
- Michael Moorcock

"The Paradox Men must come close to anybody's idea of one kind of pure science fiction: the wild and imaginative kind which juggles amusedly with many scientific concepts."
- Brian W. Aldiss










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