Jerry Sohl is better known to Star Trek fans as the writer of such original series episodes as The Corbomite Maneuver, Whom the Gods Destroy and This Side of Paradise, but in 1957 he also wrote an SF novel titled The Time Dissolver. Avon Books clearly aimed The Time Dissolver at a genre heavy SF market with its tech heavy title and its cover illustration of a fembot’s internal wiring, a picture that is typically late 50’s to 60’s, early 70’s and has nothing whatsoever to do with the novel itself, to the book’s tagline about a machine that can remove memories, that gives away the novel’s plot.
Despite all this The Time Dissolver was light SF at best if it was even that, a mainstream mystery of the kind that could just as easily have been written in the 30’s, made somewhat more bearable because Jerry Sohl is a decent writer, even if he was a good deal weaker on the actual plot twists.
The Time Dissolver begins with Sherwood, the main character, waking up in bed next to a strange woman in a motel room, and heading off to try and recover his memories. It’s a great premise that becomes steadily turgid as it turns out that Sherwood lived a conventional life as a med school student and eventually researcher working for a research institute having to do with neurology. By the time you discover that the strange woman is his wife and suffering from the same condition and that he has a shady boss, all the pieces quickly come together.
The Time Dissolver is by no means much of an SF novel or even that much of a novel, but it’s still a reminder that Jerry Sohl did more than write overrated Star Trek episodes.