Far into the future, Hartstein's graduation present from his grandparents was a wonderful trip.into the past. He had a long future in the doughnut industry to look forward to but this trip was the icing on the cake. It had been a long time since that first experiment in time travel was successfully pulled off, although not without its flaws. Now, in the future, time travel was a lucrative tourist industry. But the time travel industry was keeping one little fact to itself: two percent never came back. This cover-up was the work of the Agency. The Agency knew what others did not: that the past wasn't really the past but a complicated dynamic of individual perceptions of what the past might have been. The past isn't real and reality becomes a state of mind. While selling their particular brand of escapist entertainment and vacation packages, the Agency didn't bother to tell its clients or the populace in general that a war was going on- a time war. The Agency was spending its time in a neck and neck battle with the Temporary Underground. The battlefield was none other than the space-time continuum, the weapons time shifts and theoretical mathematics. Hartstein had no idea what his trip would be or where it would take him.
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Used availability for George Alec Effinger's The Nick of Time
July 1985 : USA Hardback
December 1987 : UK Paperback
April 2014 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition