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Time in Advance

A collection of stories by

Originally published in the August 1956 issue of GALAXY, this novelette shows William Tenn (pseudonym for Phillip Klass) at the peak of his career in science fiction. Sardonic, profoundly disillusioned and fashioned in the form of a classic deductive mystery, the work was enormously influential and its central plot premise has been appropriated by others over many decades. Original to science fiction--perhaps to the entire body of literature--is the concept of penal terms served "in escrow"; a prospective felon is permitted to do the crime before committing the crime and for the service is granted on completion a get-out-of-jail free card. (Obviously those wishing to commit murder must serve more time in escrow than prospective thieves or embezzlers.) Tenn's protagonist commits himself to a long term of penal servitude on a hellish planet in order that he may have the opportunity to wreak revenge upon the business partner who has betrayed him. As one of the relatively few who serve such a severe sentence in advance for a severe crime who survives, he emerges prepared to use his promissory note. What he learns however is that there are many levels of crime, many kinds of betrayal and much which is only apparently real. Written with deadpan, ungiving ferocity, TIME IN ADVANCE shows Tenn at a point where he had perfected his style toward apparent (but only apparent) effortlessness.


"William Tenn" was the pseudonym for his science fiction used by Phillip Klass (1920-2010); he is regarded as the finest satirist in the history of the field with an ingenious command of narrative. Tenn's blend of compassion and ferocity, dark comedy and satire merged with the work of three other writers (Damon Knight, Cyril Kornbluth, Robert Sheckley) to create the characteristic voice of the magazine. After becoming a tenured Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State University in the middle '60s, Klass virtually abandoned fiction writing, publishing only three short stories in his last four and a half decades. To reflect his importance to GALAXY magazine, three other William Tenn works are included among the 23 which compose the initial issue of The Galaxy Project.


Horace Gold led GALAXY magazine from its first issue dated October 1950 to science fiction's most admired, widely circulated and influential magazine throughout its initial decade. Its legendary importance came from publication of full length novels, novellas and novelettes. GALAXY published nearly every giant in the science fiction field.

The Galaxy Project is a selection of the best of GALAXY with new forewords by some of today's best science fiction writers. The initial selections in alphabetical order include work by Ray Bradbury, Frederic Brown, Lester del Rey, Robert A. Heinlein, Damon Knight, C. M. Kornbluth, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Frederik Pohl, Robert Scheckley, Robert Silverberg, William Tenn (Phillip Klass) and Kurt Vonnegut with new Forewords by Paul di Filippo, David Drake, John Lutz, Barry Malzberg and Robert Silverberg. The Galaxy Project is committed to publishing new work in the spirit GALAXY magazine and its founding editor Horace Gold.

Genre: Science Fiction

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