Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Night of Delusions -- Keith Laumer

Ah, the '70s. When we all pondered the nature of reality. Well, some of us, anyway. Keith Laumer certainly did, in what must be one of his odder concoctions. It begins with a private-eye being hired as bodyguard to a senator. Or so it seems. Pretty soon, we're having Groundhog Day on LSD. After that, things get weird. Not only is no one who he seems to be, no one is who he seems to be in dozens of different scenarios. Okay, I'm exaggerating. Not dozens, but a lot. Things happen, and then it turns out they didn't. Or did they? If you don't get hopelessly lost in all the twists and turns, you'll arrive at the end with everything all tied up neatly. Or is it? Maybe not.

There's an interesting story about the paperback publication of this book. Somehow the publisher (Berkley) switched Laumer's novel with The Man in Question by John Godey, so Night of Delusions appeared in the cover for the Godey book and vice versa. I have the corrected edition here, with the right book under the right cover.


Fred Blosser said...

Not my favorite Laumer (that would be DINOSAUR BEACH, A TRACE OF MEMORY, or GALACTIC ODYSSEY, depending on my mood), but still a typically polished Laumer performance. There was a later reprint as KNIGHT OF DELUSIONS (not sure why someone saw fit to change the title).

Ed Gorman said...

Laumer wasn't a Deep Thinker--remember, that seemed to be required at the time--but he was one hell of a storyteller. His stuff moved so fast you ran out of breath reading him.

Mike Tooney said...

Ed Gorman is right: With NIGHT OF DELUSIONS the reader has no time to reflect—just go with the flow.

Even David Gerrold's THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF seems simplistic compared to Laumer's novel.

NIGHT OF DELUSIONS is the most solipsistic book I have yet to come across.

Karin M said...

How long before someone noticed the books had the wrong covers, or vice versa? Were they shipped out and sold? How weird.

Bill Crider said...

Yes, they were shipped and sold. I wonder how many people noticed. I'd think the Godey readers would be really puzzled and the Laumer readers would be really chapped.