The Time Machine Did It by author John Swartzwelder
John Swartzwelder is a long time writer for The Simpsons. You know, that little show that has been running for over 30 years. Even though you may not recognize the name, he is likely responsible for some of your favorite episodes from the so called golden era of the show. (I think seasons 2-12 but this is seriously debated amongst fans).
I have been meaning to read some of his books for ages. They aren’t available at my libraries and only seem to be found on Amazon. They were self published and not widely promoted. Seems he just wrote them for fun and fun alone. I’ve always heard stories about Schwartzwelder being a bit of a hermit and an oddball. I picture him just writing this alone and not expecting anyone to read it.
The Time Machine Did It is a comedy mystery novel featuring a self aware incompetent detective. Frank Burley (not his real name) knows he’s not the best and is honestly not sure why anyone hires him. He takes this case because every other private eye in town turned it down and he needs the money.
Shenanigans occur and Burley ends up back in time in the 1940s. The book makes some very good points about why that would not be such an easy obstacle to conquer. Not the least of which is only having money post leaving the gold standard and not being able to use this unrecognizable cash.
The Time Machine Did It is a very silly book with some great jokes and laugh out loud moments. Unfortunately, that’s about all it has to offer. It is goofy fun for the short length of the book but I wasn’t crying out for any more. If there are more Frank Burley mysteries out there I’ll politely decline to read them. I’m sure they’d all be about the same.
Schwartzwelder has an absurd sense of humor that works well on an animated television show. Some of it can be visual, some jokes can be short and deadpan, others can just be in the background. But when delivered in a book they start to blend into each other and don’t allow room for things like developed plot.
The Time Machine Did It was entertaining enough and I don’t regret reading it but I’m also not kicking myself for not having read it sooner. Maybe I’ll just go rewatch The Simpsons and get my dose of his signature style that way instead.
3/5 time machines 🕘🕢🕥
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Buy it here: The Time Machine Did It
For more silly humor check out She’s Found Her Mind