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I'm looking for a sci-fi novel I read in the late '80s, maybe '87 or '88. It was an old book even at the time, and had a plain cover (red, If I remember correctly) with no graphics, just the text.

The novel starts with the main character, who was a soldier, travelling on a ship that was transporting a secret cargo intended to be turned into a weapon -- an animal that was able to jump back and forth in time, especially when threatened / surrounded.

Following an "accident" - which in the end was caused by the main character himself -- it turns out that this animal could be domesticated, and ridden like a horse, with the rider being able to jump back and forth in time, affecting different timelines and universes, and the different conflicts / wars occurring in those alternative timelines.

The novel ends with the main character triggering the very accident that started the novel.

Also, another detail from the book, if it helps. It turned out that this animal was able to procreate, and in one of the timelines its offspring were deliberately bred for that purpose, leading to the development of a "time-travelling cavalry". However, that led to even more wars and conflicts, so the hero worked to prevent that timeline from happening, and that breeding from taking place.

Also, the animal had an instinctive aversion to meeting past or future versions of itself, and refused to "jump" then / there. And, if I remember correctly, this animal had some tentacles that were used to telepathically communicate with the rider, on when to time jump.

Can anyone help me identify it?

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    Can you narrow down when you read it? "As a teenager" doesn't tell us anything; what year did you read it in, and do you know if it was a recent release or something older?
    – ToxicFrog
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 1:04
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    First and foremost, kind thanks to all that replied. I read this late 80s. Maybe 87 or 88. And no, it was not a new release -- it was an old book even at the time. Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 19:16
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    Also, wrt the cover -- it was a plain cover (red, If I remember correctly). And there were no graphics in it either, just the text Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 19:22
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    Also, another detail from the book, if it helps. It turned out that this animal was able to procreate, and in one of the timelines its offspring were deliberately bred to that purpose, leading to the development of a "time-travelling cavalry". However, that lead to even more wars and conflicts, so the hero worked to prevent it from that timeline to actualize, and that breeding to take place. Also, the animal had an instinctive aversion of meeting past or future version of itself, and refused to "jump" then / there. Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 19:34
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    Also, if I remember correctly, this animal had some tentacles that were used to telepathically communicate with the rider, on when to time jump. Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 19:37

1 Answer 1

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This sounds very much like Les seigneurs de la guerre a novel by Gérard Klein published in French in 1970, and later translated to English by John Brunner (a noted sci-fi novelist in his own right) and released in 1973 as The Overlords of War.

The main character, George Corson, is indeed in the Earth military, which is fighting a war against a bird-like alien speicies called the Urians. The novel opens with him on a secret mission, bringing a deadly lifeform known as "The Monster" to the Urian homeworld to wipe out the aliens. An accident occurs, and he is transported 6000 years into the future when Earth and Uria are living in peace.

There he is recruited by another Terran force, who are mounted on domesticated versions of "The Monster", which are called pegasones. Like "The Monster", the pegasones have the ability to time travel, and have been bred to provide "a time travelling cavalry", as mentioned in the question. They did not have tentacles as such, but they did have six legs.

A copy of the book is available online at archive.org.

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  • Hello, This sounds very much indeed like my novel, most kind thanks for helping me identify it. Some of the details in my recollection may indeed have been blurry - it's been more than 30 years since I tread it... Thanks for accounting for that fuzziness, kudos to you. Most kind thanks once again, Florian Commented Jul 27, 2021 at 0:04

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