Corrupting Dr. Nice is a science fiction novel by John Kessel.
It has been a couple of years since I last read any John Kessel – not that I didn't like it, I just haven't gotten around to it. I didn't really know what to expect, Good News From Outer Space had been so off beat and different that Corrupting Dr. Nice had to be different. And it is different, but in the way that it's a lot more normal than Good News From Outer Space.
Dr. Own Vannice (Dr. Nice) is a scientist who's trying to smuggle a dinosaur from the cretaceous, but has a small adventure in Jerusalem in the year 44CE, on his way back to the future (sorry). He's also extremely wealthy and he has a screwball AI personality implanted in his brain. This is the place in the review where you should remember that I only called Corrupting Dr. Nice more normal that "Good News" – I didn't call it normal. Dr. Nice falls in love; Dr. Nice becomes a hero in a revolution by “Historicals” (as people living born and living in the past is called), trying to reclaim their time period; Dr. Nice, well gets around and things happen. Crazy things.
Kessel is the first that I'm aware of who tries to picture the effects of cheap and easy time travel. To make it all work Kessel has based his time travel on the theory that time splits up when ever more than two possible outcomes of an event is possible (I'm putting it simply here - you really should go read A Brief Moment of Time by Hawkings, if you take you time travel just the tiniest bit serious). This is what make this books such a strange thing, on one side we have this finely crafted and well thought out time travel story and on the other side we have a humours character like Dr. Nice and lots of jokes and shenanigans going on.
Written on 12th February 2002 by TC.
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