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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Time Dingbat  
  Nickname for a time machine; used for a kind of WPA-like program for the past.  

This novel starts off at a run, and maintains its pace throughout. It's too convoluted to summarize; suffice it to say that a group of people who are effectively immortal help and support each other whenever they can.

I was headed for Herb Wells' hideout. He's perfected a technique for reclaiming gold [from seawater] (which nobody wants these plastic days) and is schlepping ingots back into the past with a demented time-dingbat which is why the Group has nicknamed him H.G. Wells. Herb is making gifts of gold to characters like Van Gogh and Mozart, trying to keep them healthy, wealthy and wise so they'll create more goodies for posterity. So far it's never worked. No Son of Don Giovanni. Not even The Don Meets Dracula.

I sat down in the insane machine which looks like a praying mantis. Herb handed me an ingot. "I was just going to give this to Thomas Chatterton."

"The kid poet?" "Committed suicide in 1770, greatly regretted. Arsenic. He was out of bread and out of hope."

Herb did things with calibrations and switches and there was a crackle of french-fried power (which I'll bet he never pays for) and I was sitting in a mudpuddle in the rain and a George Washington type on a chestnut horse nearly rode me down and bawled hell out of me for obstructing a public road.

From The Computer Connection, by Alfred Bester.
Published by Berkeley Publishing in 1974
Additional resources -

Brunner also anticipates the latest census data listing Hispanic as the largest minority group in the country. The novel takes place in Mexiforn, USA, an amalgam of California and parts of northern Mexico.

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