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The Caltraps of Time by David I. Masson: Reviews/Comments

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David Pringle in Interzone: a very welcome expanded edition of a classic collection [...] David Irvine Masson (born 1915), who lives in Leeds, has written no more fiction since the 1970s, and this remains his sole sf book; recommended.

Stuart Carter: I think it’s a measure of the quality of the ten stories in The Caltraps Of Time that not until you finish reading them and notice the "first publication" dates do you realise that even the baby of the bunch, "Dr Fausta", comes from the darkest depths of 1974. Perhaps even more surprising is that The Caltraps of Time contains all the short fiction Mr Masson has ever published (usually in New Worlds), so it can pretty much be said that he has never published a really duff piece of work.

Michael Moorcock: Caltraps, along with Knights of the Limits [by Barrington J. Bayley], is one of the great collections of our time (not to mention others' time).

John Clute in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: He began publishing sf with "Traveller's Rest" for NEW WORLDS in 1965; his fiction, including this extraordinarily intense study in the distortion of PERCEPTION, was assembled in The Caltraps of Time (coll 1968), which single volume established his strong reputation as a writer of vigorously experimental, vivid, often scientifically sound stories. Notable among them, and reflecting his close and informed interest in LINGUISTICS, were "Not so Certain" (1967) and the brilliant TIME-TRAVEL story "A Two-Timer" (1966), told entirely in language appropriate to 1683, the year from which the inadvertent time traveller is whisked into the future. Each of DIM's stories seems to be a solution to some cognitive or creative problem or challenge ..."

Algis Budrys in Galaxy: [On "Traveller's Rest":] Particularly engrossing ... represents major talent.
   David I. Masson is at least as ingenious in "A Two Timer" as he was in "Traveller's Rest", but his ingenuity this time has to do with the language and viewpoint in this story of a Seventeenth-Century man who finds a time machine and comes to 1964 to marvel and commit adultery.

Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove in Trillion Year Spree: ... David I. Masson, whose clutch of stories in the mid-sixties greatly enriched the New Worlds brew. He began spectacularly ... with the story "Traveller's Rest" ... Life as a long dream lived between moments of impacted madness. It suited the New Worlds idiom perfectly.
   Masson's second venture was the powerfully evocative "Mouth of Hell" in January 1966, where atmosphere and idea are large enough to swallow any reader whole. It was science fiction of the most imaginative kind – metaphysical statements that touched one personally.

Harry Harrison introducing the 1976 paperback: ... Not to be forgotten for a moment is that Masson is a wonderful storyteller. There is a density of content in his stories as rich as the density of character in a Hemingway story. Hemingway never tells you too much about a character, his work always reveals so much – and implies more. Masson does the same with the society and its discoveries in "The Transfinite Choice". We know that he is so well acquainted with this future world that he could write a book about it; the fullness of his imaginative knowledge is obvious. Just as Hemingway knew everything about his character, being so sure of this that what he left out was more important than what he put in, so does Masson know all about this particular world-to-come.

   There is a temptation to write too much about these stories instead of letting them speak for themselves. Suffice to say that not only are they prime examples of short stories, but perfect examples of that unusual beast, the science fiction short story. They have all the strengths and none of the weaknesses of the form.

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