Select one of the keywords
Time and Again    by Jack Finney order for
Time and Again
by Jack Finney
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2014 (1971)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

First published over forty years ago, Jack Finney's Time and Again is a time travel tale that became an underground hit and has just been reissued. If you thought such a book might seem dated to a modern reader you would be wrong. This is a fascinating read in which most of the action takes place in 1882, and the few details from the twentieth century do not interfere in any way with the story; in fact, they might increase the interest. It was fun in an odd sort of way to read about the world in the late sixties, without cell phones and where women still routinely wore dresses and nylon stockings. The 1882 world of New York City, though, was marvelously detailed, even to a reader whose knowledge of that city was formed during a few short visits years ago.

Si Morley is bored with his job and dissatisfied with his life. He works for an advertising agency doing what he considers hack work where his talents as an artist are wasted. Twenty-eight years old, he has been unable to form a romantic attachment strong enough to tempt him into marriage, although he has a girlfriend, Kate, whom he likes a lot, and he thinks that she might be the one to become his life partner.

Called from his desk at work by the unusual event of a personal visitor, he finds himself being included in a government experiment that will attempt to send people back into the past. He's told by Dr. Danziger, the originator of this project, that Einstein believed the passage of time doesn't really mean that past events are gone forever. They still exist if we could only figure out a way to visit them, in other words to send ourselves backwards rather than forward in time. After being dubious about this possibility, Si finally agrees to participate and chooses January, 1882 as the date he would like to return to because of a mystery in the life of his girlfriend Kate.

Katie was raised by the son of a man named Andrew Carmody, who received a strange letter in 1882 which caused him to kill himself many years later, to atone for a crime for which he believed himself responsible. Kate shows Si the letter with some words missing - it was partially burned by Carmody's wife after his death. Carmody had written on the letter 'that the sending of this should cause the Destruction by Fire of the entire World (a word seemed to be missing here ...)' and he claimed that he should have died then because this was entirely his fault.

The method that enables Si to travel through time, although strange, could possibly work, and we are treated to detailed descriptions through Si's amazed eyes of that long-ago world. There are many surprises in this pleasantly entertaining novel, but when the action picks up and turns exciting, it becomes difficult to put the book down without finishing it. I really enjoyed this well-researched and wonderfully well-written book. I think anyone with an open mind and a good imagination would like it as much as I did.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews