Up the Line

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Up the Line
First edition (p/b)
AuthorRobert Silverberg
Cover artistRon Walotsky
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublisherBallantine Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)

Up the Line (1969) is a time travel novel by American science fiction author Robert Silverberg. The plot revolves mainly around the paradoxes brought about by time travel, though it is also notable for its liberal dosage of sex and humor. It was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1969,[1] and a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1970,[2] finishing behind Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness for both awards. It was originally serialized in Amazing Stories in 1969, then issued as a paperback original by Ballantine Books later in that year.

Plot summary[edit]

Jud Elliott II is a failed Harvard history masters student in 2059. Bored with his job as a law clerk, he takes up a position with the Time Service as a Time Courier.

After an introductory course, Jud shunts up and down the time line ("up the line" is travel into the past; "down the line" is forward time travel, but only to "now-time," Jud's present of 2059) as a guide for tourists visiting ancient and medieval Byzantium/Constantinople.

Jud's problems include not only stupid tourists, but also greedy and mentally unstable colleagues who attempt to cause various types of havoc with the past. He is forced to break the rules in order to patch things up without drawing the attention of the Time Patrol.

When he meets and falls in love with the 'marvelous transtemporal paradox called Pulcheria' - his own multi-great grandmother - Jud succumbs to the lure of the past, creates irreparable paradoxes, and faces the inescapable clutches of the Time Patrol.

Silverberg's narrative includes some cleverly worked out details about the problems of time-travel tourism. For example, the number of tourists who over the years wish to witness the Crucifixion of Jesus has increased the audience at the event from the likely dozens to hundreds and even tens of thousands.

Time-tour guides re-visiting the same event must also take care not to scan their surroundings too closely, lest they make eye contact with themselves leading another tour party.

Silverberg's interest in the Byzantine era of Roman history is put to use with a vivid description of Constantinople during the reign of Justinian, and the Nika riots of 532.


Algis Budrys reviewed Up the Line unfavorably, describing it as "mostly notable for the amount and kind of sex introduced into what would be a short story or novelette if it weren't for that, and for long, descriptive passages on Constantinople." His review also discussed, at some length, various illogical elements in the novel's plotting.[3]


In the 1990s, a series of six books were written, set in the same fictional world as Up the line, called Robert Silverberg's Time Tours:


  1. ^ "1969 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
  2. ^ "1970 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
  3. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1970, pp.106-08, 134

External links[edit]