Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Accidental Time Machine

Haldeman, Joe. 2007. The Accidental Time Machine.

The first sentence: The story would have been a lot different if Matt's supervisor had been watching him when the machine first went away.

The last sentence: In 2072, Jonathan Marsh would be given the Nobel Prize in physics, for discovering a curious kind of time travel.

Our hero, our narrator, is a twenty-something MIT grad student named Matt Fuller. He loves working in the labs. And he's putting off writing his dissertation. You might think he sounds pretty typical for a science geek. (He's also recently been dumped by his girlfriend.) But his life is about to take a different turn. And it all starts when his calibrator disappears. It reappears in a flash. It was just a flicker, one brief instant in time--a true if I'd a blinked I'd a missed moment--but it was long enough that it changed a young man's life forever.

The reset button.

All of the drama, the action, centers around this one tiny button on a machine that is about the size of a shoe box. You might not expect something so tiny to have the ability to change the world in the blink of an eye. But it can and does.

I am NOT going to tell you anything about this one. I want to. I really really do. But I can't, I won't. It wouldn't be fair. No matter what I say from this point, it couldn't do justice to the book.

It is exciting. It is fast-paced. It is funny in moments. The writing is definitely all witty and clever and oh-so-right. But it has its serious moments as well. It's very dramatic. (I don't want anyone to think that this is like the sarcastic and silly Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or anything. The humor isn't like that.) The characters are well developed. Everything about this one is just right. A true must-read in my opinion. It had me almost at hello. (The premise definitely had me at hello.) This is one that I definitely definitely would want to reread at some point. If I'm honest, I'll admit that I want to reread it right now before it's due back at the library. I don't know if I'll give in...but the urge, the temptation is there.

Read This Book. If you've read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, you need to read The Accidental Time Machine. And if you haven't read The Time Machine, then squeeze that one in as well at some point. Both are fabulous.

Part of me would LOVE to see this on film. I think it could potentially make a great movie. I could almost visualize it. I think it's a nice blend of science fiction and dystopia and just a teeny tiny bit of romance. But the other part of me would hate to see a great great book become a mediocre, laughable film.

278 pages.


Jen Robinson 9:09 PM  

You've sold me, Becky. I'm definitely going to check it out.

Anonymous,  10:39 AM  

Put this on my list to read-- thanks. I was feeling rather time travely this morning myself. The big question is-- if you time traveled, what would you wear?

Carl V. Anderson 12:08 PM  

I am so glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. My wife is reading it now and she too is liking it. If done right it would be a fun film, but most likely it would be watered down and unrecognizable. Isn't that the way of Hollywood?

Anonymous,  10:47 PM  

Hi. Just finished this book. I don't know what to think of it just yet. What I liked: the characters, the humor and wit, the premise, and the worlds Haldeman creates. What troubled me: the science. It wasn't easy, and I felt that not understanding it hampered my understanding of the plot as a whole. I'm scouring the internet now to hopefully find a review that makes me like it because I do want to like it, but I'm not there yet.

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