Monday, August 25, 2008

The Accidental Time Machine

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman is the first book I read for the new on-line book club "Reading with Becky".

The time travel genre has undergone so much variation but Mr. Haldeman offers a new twist: a device that travels in one direction only, to the future. Lowly MIT research assistant Matt Fuller works long days - and sometimes many nights - in a physics lab, until one day he makes an odd discovery. A sensitive quantum calibrator - don't let this term scare you, there are no boring scientific details in this book - keeps disappearing and reappearing moments later when he hits the reset button.

Matt realizes that the device functions as a crude, forward-traveling time machine and he suddenly has visions of a Nobel Prize dancing in his head. After a few experiments, he is able to send a pet turtle into the future, and the turtle returns as good as new. Feeling on the verge of greatness, Matt latches his device to a car and leaps into the future.

The interesting wrinkle here is that each jump ahead is 12 times longer than the last. Matt's successive futures involve jail time, unwelcome celebrity, a time after the Second Coming of Jesus and assorted holocausts in the earth's climate. He begins to long for his native era. This book delivers cutting-edge technological speculation and irresistibly compelling reading.

The Accidental Time Machine is a fun, quick read, one I thoroughly enjoyed. Not perhaps ultra deep, as the book does not tackle any of the great questions of life or of science fiction, but it was an enjoyable time travel romp, the story of one man and later a companion of his and their journey farther and farther into the future. I would recommend this to all readers, not just science fiction lovers.

***For more information on "Reading With Becky", click the icon on the sidebar. The book for September will be The Count of Monte Cristo. We would love to have you join us!

1 comment:

Shellmo said...

This definitely sounds interesting me - especially the brief scenarios that you mentioned he encounters in the future.