The Accidental Time Machine

The Accidental Time Machine

3.8 58
by Joe Haldeman
     
 

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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.

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hugo-winner Haldeman's skillful writing makes this unusually thoughtful and picaresque tale shine. Matt Fuller, a likable underachiever stuck as a lab assistant at a near-future MIT, is startled when the calibrator he built begins disappearing and reappearing, jumping forward in time for progressively longer intervals. Curiosity and some unfortunate accidents send Matt through a series of vividly described, wryly imagined futures where he gradually becomes more adaptable and resourceful as experiences hone his character. The young woman he rescues from a techno-religious dictatorship gives him a chance at a mature relationship, while teaming up with an AI that intends to press on to the end of time forces him to decide what he wants from life. Rather than being a riff on H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, this novel is closer in tone to Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, another charming yarn about a young man who's forced out of a boring rut. Producing prose that feels this effortless must be hard work, but Haldeman (Camouflage) never breaks a sweat. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In the course of taking measurements during an experiment in quantum physics, research assistant Matt Fuller loses his calibrator, only to have it reappear one second later-after an apparent trip in time. Matt goes on to develop a time machine but finds that claiming to have done so costs more than he anticipates: his job, his girlfriend, and, possibly, his freedom. So he jumps further forward in time and begins a one-way journey into the future, searching for a solution to his problems. Winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, veteran sf author Haldeman (The Forever War; Forever Peace) delivers a succinct cautionary fable while ultimately spinning a humorously thought-provoking tall tale. A good choice for most libraries.


—Jackie Cassada
Kirkus Reviews
A time-travel yarn in the classic style from Haldeman (A Separate War, 2006, etc.). In 2058, MIT graduate student Matt Fuller realizes that the calibrator he's built is actually a forward-traveling time machine. He tests it with a pet turtle, and then sticks it into a 1956 bright-red Thunderbird and escapes his rather unpromising present. Each time the machine is activated, it travels farther ahead. His first jaunt lands him about a month into the future, where he's faced with a murder charge; subsequent trips, impelled either by simply awkward or by downright dangerous situations, transport him to strange and often unpleasant futures, inhabited by religious fundamentalists, ignorant lotus-eaters or, apparently, by no humans at all. Along with two companions, an innocent young woman and a potentially duplicitous artificial intelligence, Matt persists in his journey, armed with evidence that suggests that just ahead of him lies the means to return to his starting point. A great deal of fun and compulsively readable while it lasts, and it leaves the reader wanting more.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780441016167
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/29/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
412,154
Product dimensions:
4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet 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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Accidental Time Machine 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
BCYoung More than 1 year ago
The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman tells the story of Matt Fuller. As a lab assistant at MIT, he accidentally discovers a time machine - thus the name of the book. The discovery takes him on a journey that spans thousands upon thousands of years, where he comes in contact with different civilizations in the future. But his one goal is to finally go home, or I should say, to his time period. The Good: If you are like me, and you like time travel stories, then you should enjoy this book very much. The approach to the time travel is simple, and the future outcomes are a fun affair. Unlike most books that focus on an eventual outcome for the human race, The Accidental Time Machine (by the way, I love that it is just one word away from being called The Time Machine), shows what happens to the human race in many different time periods in the future. It's a delightful romp into impossibility, and just the sort of thing that any time travel fan will enjoy. The Bad: The book runs at a good, fun pace at the outset. It's enjoyable to see what Matt Fuller does upon his discover of the machine. However, about forty percent of the way through the book, it does tend to drag a little bit. It doesn't start picking up again until you are nearly seventy percent of the way through. It felt like this part of the book could have easily been condensed, but I'd imagine the author was looking to not make the book too short. The Ugly: I was hard pressed to find anything about the book that was ugly. I thought maybe it was the religious/anti-religious angle the book took. But, like all great science fiction that tackles religion, the author leaves the belief or non-belief in God ambiguous being as careful as possible not to step on anyone's toes. But maybe just slightly towards those who do have a faith. Had it leaned too much in one direction, this would have been ugly. But I can easily say there was nothing about the book that made me feel this way. Overall, I really liked The Accidental Time Machine. It's a delightful adventure in time travel and made me wonder what I would do if I accidentally discovered a time machine. Then again, I always wonder that, even without this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Time travel is a common theme in science fiction, providing authors an opportunity to explore multiple future scenarios and the possible consequences of moving back and forth in time. In this book, the author, an MIT professor, tells of a graduate lab assistant who discovers that an apparatus he has built for quantum research travels into the future every time he activates it. Moreover, it takes anything connected to it along and each jump is exponentially further into the future. Unfortunately, not much is made of the possible impact of this travel (although in one future the student discovers that someone else has taken credit for his "discovery") and the imagined futures are dreadfully dull. The protagonist spends way too much time in a future where religion has become accepted as science, including at MIT. Haldeman fails to use his MIT connections to to explore the quantum physics that could theoretically make time travel possible.
Blindman More than 1 year ago
It's not going to rattle you to the core but it might make you think a bit... all in all, it's just a good read. It's enjoyable, the characters are generally likable and realistic and the concepts are well thought out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It starts with a simple event in a non-descript laboratory and leads to one of the greatest adventures imaginable. I won't deny it - Joe Haldeman is one of my favorite writers, so I may be more than biased, but this is a great 'what if?' idea explained with a little physics and fleshed out with a wonderfully imaginative story that leads, literally, to the end of time. I can't recommend it enough.
harstan More than 1 year ago
MIT laboratory assistant Matthew invents the calibrator, a gizmo that enables a person to travel forward in time however, there is no going back as his machine only works one way. He tests it for a twenty minute jaunt. However, having lost his girlfriend Kara and his job, a distraught Matthew decides to test his machine after calculating the exponential increasing jumps in time. He leaps forward two weeks into the future only to learn he is a person of interest by the police in a homicide that occurred when he stole a car just before he jumped apparently the vehicle owner dropped dead when Matt and his auto vanished into thin air.--------------------- Knowing he needs to escape, he leaps forward in time, but he learns that each leap is that much longer than the previous one. This time he jumps forward two decades where he learns his device has been found and everyone is waiting for him to reappear when he does. Matthew is a hero and joins MIT. Although the world has dramatically changed while he leaped and his knowledge of physics obsolete, no one has been able to copy his time machine. Now pressure is on him by those who want to use his device so he leaps again two centuries into the future where he seeks a respite knowing that if this fails him the next jump gets into the millennium and there is no reverse.----------------- This terrific science fiction time travel tale feels like a throw back thriller starring a disingenuous antihero struggling with fame as his gizmo works but no one including Matt has been able to replicate what he wrought. Every time the pressure mounts on Matt he leaps, but with the time interval expanding, he knows each subsequent jump is into an unknown future. He learns that with the twenty year leap that prevalent acceptable physics theory were devastated in the interim. Joe Haldeman shows why he is a national treasure with this tremendous MIT laboratory assistant Matthew invents the calibrator, a gizmo that enables a person to travel forward in time however, there is no going back as his machine only works one way. He tests it for a twenty minute jaunt. However, having lost his girlfriend Kara and his job, a distraught Matthew decides to test his machine after calculating the exponential increasing jumps in time. He leaps forward two weeks into the future only to learn he is a person of interest by the police in a homicide that occurred when he stole a car just before he jumped apparently the vehicle owner dropped dead when Matt and his auto vanished into thin air.---------------- Knowing he needs to escape, he leaps forward in time, but he learns that each leap is that much longer than the previous one. This time he jumps forward two decades where he learns his device has been found and everyone is waiting for him to reappear when he does. Matthew is a hero and joins MIT. Although the world has dramatically changed while he leaped and his knowledge of physics obsolete, no one has been able to copy his time machine. Now pressure is on him by those who want to use his device so he leaps again two centuries into the future where he seeks a respite knowing that if this fails him the next jump gets into the millennium and there is no reverse.----- This terrific science fiction time travel tale feels like a throw back thriller starring a disingenuous antihero struggling with fame as his gizmo works but no one including Matt has been able to replicate what he wrought. Every time the pressure mounts on Matt he leaps, but with the time interval expanding, he knows each subsequent jump is into an unknown future. He learns that with the twenty year leap that prevalent acceptable physics theory were devastated in the interim. Joe Haldeman shows why he is a national treasure with this tremendous thought provoking thriller.----------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No breaking ground here, the usual pulp sci-fi time travel fun with some interesting twists. Not on the level with "The Forever War", but nothing Haldeman has done since is. Like some of his other books, the end arrives abruptly and without sufficient development. Instead he just wraps it up by explaining in a couple pages what happened next. Sort of a sci-fi 'and they lived happily ever after' approach. If you like Haldeman its a 4. For newcomers a 3.5.
SpyderWryter More than 1 year ago
Just finished this book. I don't know what to think of it just yet. What I liked:

1) The characters - Matt, the protagonist, is interesting to watch and though maybe he's not as credible as I'd like (I just couldn't believe some of the choices he made or the motives behind those choices), he does evoke enough empathy for me to care about him and want to follow him on his adventures.

2) The humor and wit - this is a fun read. The language is fresh and clever. Quick example: "He put enough sugar and cream in the coffee to call it breakfast." I love that!

3) The premise - this is a giveaway. I like any time travel story. But, this was interesting in that the machine only works in one direction - forward. What would you do with a machine that only jumps forward exponentially in time? Stop after one jump or keep going forward in time with only the faintest bit of hope that you could go back? I already know what I would do, which is not at all what the protagonist in this story does.

4) The worlds Haldeman creates (and by "world" I mean future Earths)- what amazes me the most in sci-fi and fantasy stories is the sheer creativity involved in imagining up a world that doesn't exist, and Haldeman's worlds are interesting. They do have a slight manufactured feel to them, or maybe just an under-developed feel. They're not as wholly engrossing as I would have liked. We get enough of each world to understand it, but not to fully appreciate it. I think part of the reason is that this book as it is is too small for such an awesome idea. It could be another hundred pages, and I think Haldeman is talented enough to fill those new pages with the same quick-paced, entertaining and thought-provoking writing as the rest of the book.


What troubled me:

1) The science - It wasn't easy, and I felt that not understanding it hampered my understanding of the plot as a whole. There were some passages that I read over and over (and over and over and over) just trying to understand. Maybe it's just me (and for my ego's sake, I hope it's not), but I don't think Haldeman broke down the science enough. After posting this I intend to immediately scour the internet looking for some explanations.


Overall, what I liked about this book outnumber what I didn't like (although point #4 is kind of mixed), so I recommend it. And if you followed the science, then kudos to you. Now please explain it to me...
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An unlikeable main character and totally unreasonable plot points...as well as simply awful use of fake engineering make this book totally unreadable for me. I mean...fourier transform? On three data points? Did he even look it up on wikipedia?
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Loved it from beginning to end.
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Johnny3 More than 1 year ago
It left me mulling the possibilities for weeks after reading!! Very imaginative!
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