Trying to ID a novel in which the protagonist (one of a number of Bourne-like trained agents) was repeatedly sent back in time to pull forward various individuals for training by the people of his time. A risk to such agents was that eventually they would slow down and freeze up. I vaguely think the character's name was Jerry, but that could easily be wrong.

They thought the freezing was due to the repeated temporal transportation, but turns out it was because their supervisors continually blocked memories of missions, and as the blockages added up the freezing began to happen. Somehow the protagonist's blocks are erased, and he remembers all his past missions - including one in which he was married and his wife was killed. Conflict with his supervisors ensues, at the onset of which one of them says a code phrase to him which is supposed to trigger a self-destruct implant in his brain but which he had previously found out about and deactivated.

  • The Empire of Time is it. Thanks! I had no idea it was part of a series - are the others [also] good?
    – CNB3
    Jul 24, 2013 at 2:21

1 Answer 1


The Empire of Time by Crawford Kilian, part of Kilian's Chronoplane Wars series.

The protagonist's name was Jerry Pierce:

The intertemporal shuttle between Earth/2015 and Beulah/1804 was an old subway train. [. . .] Jerry Pierce was one of the few passengers coming uptime on the shuttle, but over a hundred people were waiting on the shuttle platform for the trip back.

Pierce "freezes":

Pierce was frightened, but observed the phenomenon with an Agent's Trained dispassion. Here was a "freeze"—an occupational hazard of Trainable Agents after years of psychoconditioning. Its onset meant the Trainable's usefulness was nearing its end.

Almost twenty years, he thought. I must be due for it. But this is just the first freeze; I could go for years without experiencing another one. I'm thirty-five; another two or three years left, anyway.

Another "Trainable" recruited from the past:

Pierce recognized him at once, though they had never met. The young man was a tall, heavyset, shaggy blond and tailored denims and a white silk shirt; an agate bolo tie glinted under his short beard. He was Philon Richardson, a Trainable Climber from Los, born 985 BC in Thrace, of Dorian stock. Tested four years ago at age sixteen, and brought uptime with his equally Trainable sister for his education. Took his Trainer's family name, as did most Climbers. Under Philon's foppish appearance was still a hint of the arrogant warrior-king he would have become if the Agency had not tapped him: a barbarian princeling, carousing in the ruins of Nestor's palace. Instead, he had become a twenty-first-century organization man—an errand boy now—but he was destined to wield more power with his fichewriter than his father ever dreamed of wielding with a sword. Still, it was interesting that anything at all was left of Philon's background. The psychoconditioners knew their job.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.