Screwball SF comedy,
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This review is from: The Goblin Reservation (Kindle Edition)
Returning from a trip to another star system via matter transmitter, academic Peter Maxwell discovers he apparently came back to Earth some weeks earlier and then died under suspicious circumstances. You'd expect most people would make finding out why their top priority, but Maxwell has bigger fish to fry: he's been chosen by a dying race from a previous universe to represent them in selling fifty billion years' worth of accumulated knowledge. With the help of an articulate Neanderthal, a ghost who doesn't know whose ghost he is, a sparky young woman who owns a biomechanical sabre-toothed tiger (think Kate Hepburn in `Bringing Up Baby'), Master William Shakespeare (who didn't write the plays) and a reservation full of goblins and trolls, he tries to head off a sinister race of colonial insects who travel around in Segway-type contrivances and who are after the same prize. His biggest challenge, though, is overcoming his own university's bureaucratic inertia.
Here we have Clifford Simak in frivolous mode. Although not written as an outright comedy, this is a funny, fast-moving tale narrated with dry wit and punctuated by moments of slapstick - a barroom brawl with aggrieved English Lit students, a delightfully silly denouement scene in which one character after another traipses in with their tuppence-worth for no immediately apparent reason, amongst others. And it doesn't feel nearly as dated as most SF books of this era, which is an achievement in itself.