Select one of the keywords
The Accidental Time Machine    by Joe Haldeman order for
Accidental Time Machine
by Joe Haldeman
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2007 (2007)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

When lab technician and former graduate student Matt Fuller begins tinkering with a photon calibrator at MIT's Center for Theoretical Physics at some midway point in the 21st century, Matt makes a stunning discovery. Because of some unexplainable singularity in its design and construction, the calibrator - and anything with which it is in conductive contact - seems to disappear briefly (on a round trip excursion?) into the future.

Then after performing a series of experiments of increasing duration with the calibrator, Matt - without having much else going on in his chaotic, dead-end existence - decides to make what he believes will be the ultimate commitment to science: He will connect himself to the calibrator's hardware, and if all goes according to his careful calculations, Matt will travel forward to exponentially expanding points of time in the future. So, borrowing some essential (albeit idiosyncratic) equipment and planning for all sorts of bizarre contingencies, Matt activates the calibrator, and then, as a surprised Matt will later report, 'all hell broke loose!'

First, as he had predicted, he moves a few weeks ahead in time (where a run-in with law enforcement implicates Matt in an apparent murder), then - as things get more and more complicated - Matt begins an extended time-traveling odyssey (alternately dreamlike and nightmarish) that will take him thousands of years away from his humble existence at MIT. Encountering unfamiliar societies and ostensibly advanced science, Matt must navigate through all sorts of political, philosophical, and technological challenges if he is to survive in the future or if he ever hopes to return to MIT (which is paradoxically either somewhere in the present or even somewhere the past).

Written with a tongue-in-cheek style that is chock-full of humor, mystery, ironies, hard science, speculative musings, ruminations on religion, and all sorts of provocative ideas, The Accidental Time Machine features one of SF's most engaging protagonists: Matt Fuller is something like a shaggy, obsessively inquisitive though somewhat naďve Tom Sawyer on Ritalin (as if he were also hard-wired into Kurt Gödel's and Albert Einstein's DNA).

As award-winning author Joe Haldeman notes in the postscript to this, his latest, top-notch SF novel, 'It's a truism of science fiction that if you predict enough things, a few of them are going to come true.' The reader's lingering challenge (after having thoroughly enjoyed Haldeman's provocative tale of paradoxical possibilities) is to guess which of the author's predictions might actually happen in the future. Some possibilities are intriguing, some are hilarious, and some are downright terrifying.

In any event, The Accidental Time Machine is one of those must read books of the year that will entertain, amuse, and occasionally frighten readers who join Matt Fuller on his fascinating odyssey.

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