A World Out of Time is my first Larry Niven book but definitely not my last. I didn’t “read” it as such, but listened to the unabridged audiobook during my daily commute and it gripped me throughout.
Jaybee Corbell was dying of cancer, his last hope to be frozen as a human popsicle and thawed out once a cure was available. After 200 years he was indeed brought back to life but not in his own body. He found himself sentenced to a one way solo journey as the pilot of a space craft to seed distant solar systems. With the threat of instant annihilation at the merest hint of dissent he has no choice but to comply.
But Corbell was too clever and sly, he picked the perfect time to make his move, escape his captors and direct his space craft for a sight-seeing trip to the Galactic Core. He will eventually return to earth but so far beyond the death of “The State” that nothing is quite the same, in fact he even has difficulty recognising the solar system it has changed so much.
His return to Earth turns into a nightmare and a battle for his life.
Published in 1976 as a mashup of three shorter stories and with no sequel its a good standalone read. More focused on getting the story told than on elaborate creation of worlds or characters as would be expected if it had been planned as some epic novel. It’s a ripping adventure yarn that reminds me why I love science fiction. Jaybee is a likeable rogue with attitude and plenty of foes to overcome, real and perceived. The world he adventures through is in most respects alien but somehow familiar and the whole thing is well structured to offer a pleasant but not too deep experience.
Definitely worth a read but save yourself some money and get the book or audiobook from your local online library.