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1 Beaverton Science Fiction and Fantasy- A to Z

The Accidental Time Machine

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The Accidental Time Machine Cover

ISBN13: 9780441016167
ISBN10: 0441016162
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

NOW IN PAPERBACK-FROM THE AUTHOR OF MARSBOUND

Grad- school dropout Matt Fuller is toiling as a lowly research assistant at MIT when he inadvertently creates a time machine. With a dead-end job and a girlfriend who left him for another man, Matt has nothing to lose in taking a time-machine trip himself?or so he thinks.

Synopsis:

From the winner of the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novel comes this provocative story of a man who stumbles upon the discovery of a lifetime. After a laboratory calibrator turns into a time machine, lab assistant Matt Fuller has nothing to lose by taking the trip himself--or so he thinks.

About the Author

Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam veteran whose classic novels The Forever War and Forever Peace both have the rare honor of winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He has served twice as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is currently an adjunct professor teaching writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Jvstin, February 8, 2009 (view all comments by Jvstin)
The Accidental Time Machine, by Joe Haldeman.

Coincidentally, I was recently talking about a Poul Anderson short story, "Flight to Forever", which has some resemblance to this novel.

The basic premise is similar with some twists. Matt, a grad student at MIT, accidental invents the eponymous time machine. Its only a one way device, and the "jumps" are logarithmically longer and longer, and so his journey quickly becomes a one way trip to the future, looking for a way to reverse the process and return to his own time.

Along the way, he discovers strange cultures, picks up a passenger, and finally manages to return to the past, but not in the way or manner that he expects.

So on the basics, its pretty similar to the story mentioned above. The concept as Haldeman executes it, though is a little more polished in the physics. Anderson's story was really a device for sending his protagonist through time. Haldeman takes some things into consideration that Anderson doesn't--for example the idea that the time machine's "landing location" might change through time thanks to the motion of celestial bodies.

Like Anderson's story, we wind up with some strange future societies that Matt and his inadvertent fellow passenger whom he picks up encounter. A religious theocracy, a society which seems to be Ebay writ large, and a post-Singularity beings are among the challenges that Matt faces as he jumps through time.

The novel is short, and aside from the religious theocracy and Matt's present (in the mid 21st century), we never really spend a lot of time getting to the nuts and bolts of the worlds. Haldeman could have spent endless pages on each of these stops, and in some cases, I would have liked to learn a little more about Matt's stops. Also, the ending is, frankly, a deus ex machina in an almost literal sense. There are also aspects to the narrative (the idea that there are multiple timelines, or multiple versions of Matt being sent back) that are mentioned in a few sentences and never really explored fully. Also, the explanation of just how the accidental time machine really worked is very much glossed over.

So I have to say that I was disappointed in the novel overall, which unfortunately (after Forever Peace) means that I've now read two novels by Haldeman that I don't like in comparison to one (Forever War). I suppose that he is going to now drop off on the list of authors that I will read, sad to say. The Accidental Time Machine is not a *bad* novel, but its, to use culinary terminology, definitely a little undercooked and the flavors didn't meld well. It was a disappointment.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780441016167
Author:
Haldeman, Joe
Publisher:
Ace Books
Subject:
Science Fiction - Short Stories
Subject:
Science / General
Subject:
Science Fiction - General
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Publication Date:
20080831
Binding:
MASS MARKET
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
6.81x4.16x.78 in. .30 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Adventure

The Accidental Time Machine Used Mass Market
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Product details 288 pages Ace Books - English 9780441016167 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , From the winner of the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novel comes this provocative story of a man who stumbles upon the discovery of a lifetime. After a laboratory calibrator turns into a time machine, lab assistant Matt Fuller has nothing to lose by taking the trip himself--or so he thinks.
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