Oltre l'invisibile

By Clifford D. Simak

2,724 ratings - 4* vote

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Book details

Kindle Edition, 0 pages
December 2nd 2020

Community Reviews


I love Simak. Whenever I'm in the mood for some old-time SF that can still be read with joy today, lacking the most pernicious queasy qualities of the time-period in which popular fiction thrived back then, I always turn to Simak. He never lets me down. It's just plain fun.

This book is no different. It's a time-travel paradox story on the fringes, but at its heart, it's all about Destiny. A guy tries to see what he can see with some strange aliens, comes back missing 20 years and a mysterious group is out to kill him. Sounds like pretty standard thriller-SF, right?

Well, in this case, it's really about leveling up, writing a book that will have a grand effect on the rest of future humanity, making a difference to all the downtrodden androids and aliens who suffer from the "largesse" of the super-dominant mankind.

A light and a once-removed tale of race issues, sure, but this book from 1950 focuses on the heart of it, doesn't stint on pushing for equality, and even pokes huge holes in "Manifest Destiny". Back then, I'm sure the term was used to the nausea of everyone, but not now. Even so, it's interesting to see such a forceful condemnation. :)

It may be old hat now, but the rest of the story is delightful and fast-paced. :) Duels, corporations with a million-year strategy, a time war, and paradox-poking. Very good classic SF. :)

Glenn Younger


This story was so multi-layered, I shake my head in utter amazement that it was written in 1951. If the author were still alive, I'd put it on my dream list to shake his hand and thank him for his talent with words. It's no wonder he won so many awards in his career.

This is a book of philosophy about the meaning of destiny hidden in the guise of Science Fiction. Amidst the requisite time travel theme, it touches on the nature of mankind with its illusion of superiority over all living things. The forgotten value of humility. Evolution. The untapped power of the mind and spirit. The might of the "corporation" that works to enslave the common man's mind. And the power games of war that stem from the need to fight back for a measure of sovereignty that allows for a life lived with dignity.

Mr Simak does all that in one solid story line that doesn't let up until the last line that leaves you breathless.

Read it. Digest it. And see if you don't question both yourself and the society we live in on deeper levels.


What would you think if you found an old book signed with your name-and learned that it bore a date in the distant future? It happens to Asher Sutton, and upon setting out to investigate the incredible enigma, he finds that book a ticket to a galactic empire many thousands of years from now!Definitely my favourite time-travel novel so far!

Gerold Whittaker

While the first few chapters had the makings of a really good time-travel book, it just seemed to bog down later on - to the point where I simply skipped over some of the paragraphs. Most of the time travel in the book are just references to things which will happen in the future for example, the text of a book, not yet written, found in the burnt-out wreckage of a space-craft....

The book had so much promise but just didn't deliver.


Oh dear, this book is a bit of a mess. It's about time travel....no, it's about androids and Asimovian space cops... No, it's about biology and symbiotic life forms...no, it's about time travel again...no, it's a scathing critique of manifest destiny...no, it's about a war between androids and humanity...no, it's about mutant humans with special powers...no, I'm not sure what it's about.


I discovered Clifford Simak nearly 35 years ago. I was a young mother, and his tales of robots and dogs genetically engineered to talk were balm to my soul. Maybe man would disappear someday in the future, but something would continue.
Thank goodness I didn't read "Time and Again" back then. This is a very disturbing book about what it means to be human, destiny as a concept and Manifest Destiny.
If we isolate what ever it is that makes us human is it worth preserving the human race, or is that it?
There are no talking dogs here, and the androids may be kindly companions, or they may not. Or they may not be androids at all.
At least the hero, Ash Sutton, is human ...

David (דוד)

3.5 stars

Robert 'Rev. Bob'

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, but it wasn't the sort of book I thought it would be.

The title and blurb imply that this is primarily a time travel adventure. It is not. True, there is some time travel and some adventure, but mainly this is a philosophical musing upon the nature of religious sects. The main character is perhaps most akin to the Buddha, in that he writes a book that describes a worldview and becomes quite influential. In fact, it is so important a text that a group of people create a new version of it, annotating it to twist it into saying things they find more palatable. The time travel aspect is that he hasn't written the book yet, and both factions want him to produce the version they prefer.

If that sounds interesting to you, and you can cope with the inevitable anachronisms of a book six decades old which discusses events six millennia hence, I recommend it. I enjoyed those aspects myself, but the experience was like ordering steak and getting barbecue. Both are satisfying meals on their own, but when you're served something you didn't order, it's a bit harder to swallow.

Jonathan Palfrey

This book has two themes run together, one of which works better than the other.

The first theme is about Asher Sutton and what he found on the seventh planet of 61 Cygni. This is classic, magnificent sense-of-wonder sf, told in Simak's unhurried, thoughtful prose.

The second theme is about the world Sutton came from: a far-future society of humans and their android servants, treated as inferiors although they're the same in almost every respect as humans made in the traditional way.

I don't believe in this future society, so for me the book's second theme agonizes pointlessly over a non-issue. The Android Problem was a preoccupation of sf writers around the middle of the twentieth century, but I think it's been out of fashion for decades by now, and it has the quaintness you sometimes find when writers in the past imagine the future and get it wrong.

Thus, this novel is in part a great classic, but it also has elements that don't really stand the test of time. Simak was of my grandparents' generation, approximately; and by now I'm old enough to be a grandfather myself.


I read an Open Road Media re-publication of this 1951 novel in kindle format because there was a short-term deep price cut for it on Amazon, and I have always liked Clifford Simak’s work. It is sad now to give this as low a rating as I have. I highly recommend his best novels – Way Station and City.

The problem with the book is that there are two plots. The novel first has Ash Sutton who has returned from a twenty-year first-contact mission to 61 Cygni. He died there, and was brought back to life by some alien force, leaving an additional personality in his head that he has named Johnny. Ash has flown his smashed spaceship back, apparently open to the vacuum. There are some clues to what has happened, but then the plot shifts to a war in time, for equal rights between the Androids and the Humans who built them. Ash is caught up in this, as there is a book he is yet to write, approaching religious stature in the future, that has become pivotal in the struggle of the Android Equality League. Meanwhile the Revisionist Humans are trying to get him to rewrite it to make it applicable only to Humans. Now, a two-headed plot would be ok, except that the mysteries of the first are never resolved. It is as if Simak forgot that Ash was not simply a normal Human or Android, and just wrote about the second plot, for the second half of the book.

Ash’s book is entitled “This is Destiny”, and while it is revolutionary enough to produce a new perspective for humans and/or androids, the contents of it are never really exposed. Too bad, because I think Simak had some ideas that no one, born or made, is ever alone, and I would have liked to hear more about it. In the end though, it seems that the point is that it is the destiny of non-humans is to become equal to humans.

The past and future settings of this book are near Bridgeport, Wisconsin. Clifford Simak was born in that area, and his descriptions of the land and the river are awe inspiring to me. I live in the same state, have been there many times, and it is a beautiful area. But the descriptions and the second plot alone are not enough to save the book for me. It needs work.