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Paladin of the Lost Hour by Harlan Ellison

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“Paladin of the Lost Hour” is a 1986 science fiction novelette by Harlan Ellison. It is about an old man who possesses a powerful pocket watch and the young man who helps him out.

I am not a fan of Harlan Ellison. I don’t like the man, and I don’t like most of his stories. So it was with some trepidation that I approached this award winning story that was written in the mid 1980s. I’m sure I never would have considered reading this story if it hadn’t won the 1986 Hugo Award and Locus Poll Award for Best Novelette. Tinkoo’s recommendation helped put it on my to-read list, where it has been for a while now. Anyway, I found myself pleasantly surprised by both the story and the author’s writing. This may be the last Ellison story I ever read and recommend here on this site – so take advantage of that while you can!

Non-Spoiler Summary

Week 7 - Antique Pocket Watch by KimCarpenterNJ, CC 2.0 License

Gaspar is an old man whose time is almost up, and Billy is a lonely young Vietnam veteran. They both happen to be visiting the same cemetery one fateful day when a couple of punks attack Gaspar. Lucky for the old man that Billy is around – because he steps in and saves his hide! Gaspar offers to repay Billy with a nice cup of tea, but eventually they head back to Billy’s apartment where Gaspar ends up becoming his room mate. The two men become fast friends, but Gaspar is full of surprises and keeps Billy constantly on his toes! But something really strange happens when Gaspar finally shows Billy his old pocket watch, and tells him of its amazing secret!

My Two Cents

  • Story: 5 stars – This was a cool story that held my attention nicely! I liked the friendship that developed between the two very different men, and I thought the whole idea surrounding the pocket watch was interesting as well.
  • Writing: 5 stars – The story was very well written, and was a big part of the reason I enjoyed it so much! The words used, and the way it was told meshed nicely and provided some great reading!
  • Fun Factor: 4 stars – There were a few depressing ideas in this story that kept it from being “yee-haw” fun, but it was still a great story that was very cool to read.

Where To Find Paladin of the Lost Hour

  • This novelette first appeared in the August 1985 edition of Universe 15.
  • You can read “Paladin of the Lost Hour” online for free at harlanellison.com.
  • It is also included in the anthology The Mammoth Book of Fantasy.

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you enjoyed “Paladin of the Lost Hour” then you might like “Jeffty is Five” also by Harlan Ellison – about a five year old boy who never ages and the strange pocket of time in which he lives.