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Ok, I remember borrowing this book from a friend back in 1993. I seem to recall the name being The Inept Adept, but I can't find anything related to this name except a piece from the 2000s that doesn't fit the description.

The book was the first in a series about a socially awkward/oblivious scientist from the present that develops a method of time travel using buckyballs. He travels to the middle ages (fantasy style), and falls in with a small group led by a woman. He keeps giving them small inventions from the future (he makes soap, so the female leader doesn't have to smell how bad her men smell; he grinds glasses for one of the men who can't see well) and as a result they consider him a wizard.

The only thing I can remember about the villain is that as the novel progresses, he hints that he can “hear” the book's narrator. I remember it being a cool concept.

Any thoughts?

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In Simon Hawke's Reluctant Sorcerer trilogy, fullerene (as in Buckminsterfullerene aka buckyballs) is a highly necessary component of Brewster's travelling machine.

Consists of three books:
The Reluctant Sorcerer (1992)
The Inadequate Adept (1993) -- this is the one whose title you almost remembered.
The Ambivalent Magician (1997)

The Reluctant Sorcerer

Bumbling genius Dr. Martin Brewster accidentally transports himself to a parallel universe where odd creatures abound and magic really works. When the locals mistake Brewster for a sorcerer, he must devise an escape or incur the wrath of the real magicians.

The Inadequate Adept

The second entry in The Reluctant Sorcerer series by the author of the bestselling Wizard series. Marvin Brewster is the Reluctant Sorcerer, trapped in a parallel universe populated with gossiping dragons, walking bushes, capitalist leprechauns, and an evil wizard, who has captured his only means of escape--his time machine.

The Ambivalent Magician

Trapped in a paralled universe, Dr. Marvin Brewster marshals his renegade nation of brigands, dragons, trolls, vampire elves, and the runesword Dwarfkabob to challenge evil wizard Warrick. Aware that he's the dastardly villain of a nonstop rollicking adventure romp, Warrick plays the role of destiny and changes the path of the ambivalent magician--while it's being written.

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