Nowadays we can look up early works by musicians and actors with ease, but the early works of authors can still be well hidden. Whether stashed away on microfilm, stuck behind a pay wall or just out of print, be prepared for digging and delving. That was why I was so surprised to find today's book on our bookshelf. Squinting at the cover, the familiarity of the author's name took a while to sink in.
Then it hit me. Long before he wrote North and South, John Jakes was doing a different sort of time travelling in 1972...
The Fourth Dimension had finally been opened up, thanks to the invention of the Time Gate. Now man could journey into the dim past or venture into the far-distant future.
But the Time Gate had to be kept a top-secret project, manned only by Tom and Cal Linstrum and a few carefully selected scientists - for in the wrong hands, it could become the most potent weapon yet created. Travelling through time, even one man could alter history enough so that everyone on Earth would simply cease to exist. Of course, it woudl never happene because only a madman would even try to distort the time stream.
Then one horrifying day, it did happen. And Tom and Cal found themselves chasing through a rapidly changing panorma of history, trying desperately to capture their enemy before they and their whole world vanished forever...!
There's so much to love about this cover. It clearly says "Hey you, nerd, pick me up! We belong together!" The glowy sphere and handsome young man on the cover totally sell the fantasy. Admittedly, I'm only just into chapter four and so far it's a good young adult science fiction read. The age and condition of the book causes me to hold it very gingerly for fear of putting a bend in it.
Oh, the book is also set in 1987, and serves as a window to how bad people tend to be at predicting the future, which - trust me - I will be looking at in the very near future.