The Time Masters by Wilson Tucker
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In Knoxville, Tennessee, the men involved in the top-secret Ridgerunner project are about to complete work on the first rocket designed to probe beyond the solar system, and Secret Service agents in that city are becoming frantic over the presence of one Gilbert Nash, a man without a past.
The investigation of Nash began when it was discovered that he subscribed to every journal of science currently published in the free world—archeology [sic], geology, astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, medicine and, most disturbing of all, nuclear physics. Was he merely showing a healthy interest in science, or perhaps something more sinister? Determined to find out, the government agents are soon plunged into the most baffling and frustrating case of any of their careers.
Every fact they uncover only adds to the mystery surrounding Nash’s identity. He seems to have come into existence out of nowhere on March 8th, 1940, the date the United States decided in earnest to build an atomic bomb, and then migrated to Knoxville just in advance of the establishment of the Ridgerunner project. On the door to his office appear only his name and the word “Investigations.” And, although Nash gave his age as 31 in 1940, he appears not to have aged a day since that time.
When a key member of the Ridgerunner project goes to Nash’s office and then commits suicide a few days later, the search for Nash’s true identity and purpose becomes desperately urgent. But only Shirley Hoffman, secretary to one of the agents, is able to get close enough to Nash to actually converse with him. What he says adds a new and frightening dimension to the ever deepening mystery.
While dining, he begins to tell her the story of Gilgamesh, hero of an epic written thousands of years ago in ancient Assyria. Supposedly immortal, Gilgamesh was a man whose origins were either unknown or unrecorded, and who stalked through the land accomplishing mighty deeds.
As the story of Gilgamesh unfolds, Shirley Hoffman begins to wonder just what Nash’s interest in this ancient tale is—and by the time he reaches the end of the epic, she learns the incredible and terrifying answer.
THE TIME MASTERS is a compelling novel of science fiction that will hold readers i the grip of suspense until the very end. As the identity of Gilbert Nash is revealed—and the countdown begins that will blast the first rocket outside of the solar system—the book builds to an unforgettable and shattering climax.