Some days, I need silly and yesterday, The Goblin Reservation fit the bill perfectly.
Familiar with Simak through the beautifully pastoral Way Station, when I saw this for a mere dollar, I snapped it up. A madcap adventure set in a vibrant university setting, it echoed the feel of Doorways in the Sand. While it is set on a future Earth with alien races, aircars, moving sidewalks, and the like, it is also an Earth that is home to small populations of The Fae.
Peter Maxwell, a professor in the College of Supernatural Phenomena, has just returned from an interplanetary journey where he was unexpectedly diverted to a mysterious planet. Charged with brokering their knowledge banks, he returns to the Earth checkpoint only to discover he had already returned and died in an unfortunate accident. When he finally reaches his apartment, he discovers his belongings destroyed and his apartment rented by an unknown attractive woman and her pet sabertooth tiger. They head to the local watering hole for a drink and meet up with Maxwell’s friends, Alley Oop (only slightly dated by his inclusion) and Ghost. It gets progressively odder from there as Bill attempts to discover why he was doubled, to find a job and to convince the University that they should buy the alien knowledge. Oh, and help out his friend Goblin O’Toole with his troll problem and some excess October ale. However, the campus is in an uproar over the upcoming time-traveling visit by William Shakespeare, so Maxwell has a challenge trying to get official attention.
Nominated for a Hugo in 1969, it is a quick, fun read that remains close to timeless. Highly recommended for fans of Pratchett, or fans of Zelazny’s Doorways in the Sand. I will be re-reading this one.