{4/5} “We did little talking, for talking was difficult, but we did sit together, feeling friendly toward one another, and that seemed to satisfy Catface. Strangely, it satisfied me as well. Contact with him somehow made me feel good. I got the funny feeling Catface was trying to talk with me. I don’t know what made me think this, but I did get the impression that he was trying to communicate.”

Mastodonia by Clifford D. Simak, published in 1978

Asa has returned to the area where he grew up, buying a farm that had a peculiar hole on the property — a hole where he found pieces of metal that were extraterrestrial in origin. Now he’s made contact with a creature he calls Catface, whose crashed spaceship made the hole. Catface can open a time tunnel to any time and any place. Asa and his girlfriend Rila decide to go into business for themselves — they will sell trips through time. And to avoid paying taxes to the US government they will move — to Mastodonia, 150 000 years in the past.

Like Highway of Eternity, this is one of Simak’s lesser works. If you’re a fan it’s readable and has some interesting ideas — don’t expect to be wowed by anything in the first half, though.

I like the premise of the story, but most of it is developed in a very straightforward way and the characters aren’t particularly intriguing. The most interesting ideas have to do with Catface’s origins and some protests that happen because of the time travel business.

I previously reviewed Simak’s novel All Flesh is Grass.

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