The Accidental Time Machine

The Accidental Time Machine

by Joe Haldeman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780441016167
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/29/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 233,559
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

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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Accidental Time Machine 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 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...
pmfloyd1 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Actually a very interesting and quick read. The story line is about a MIT student who travels in time going forward - at longer and longer intervals. Although I am a Christian, I was not offended by the author's use of Jesus' Second Coming. It was not offensive and at times I found it humorous, as I assume Mr. Haldeman meant it to be. As always, Mr. Haldeman focused on the characters and their behavior more than on hard science fiction. Although given the speculative nature of some much that is marketed as Sci Fi these days, this novel is a harkening back to the old days of Heinland, Asimov and Simek - where psychology and behavior and an interesting story line was emphasized. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. A perfect book to read on a plane or a bus. Paul Floyd, Mpls, MN
greytfriend on LibraryThing 28 days ago
An average time travel book. Reminded me of Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice for some reason. OK character development. Too many coincidences to make things work out properly.
nbmars on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Matt Fuller is an MIT grad-school dropout who accidentally discovers a time machine. He meets Martha, a nubile but naive girl of the future, and starts taking her along on his time travels.The story and tone are reminiscent of much preceding social satire sci fi - e.g., that of Chris Morrow, Kurt Vonnegut, and the French Barbarella comic series. Haldeman's effort is disappointing, however: more puerile than sharp-witted, and lacking social analysis. In fact, it seems as if the plot came from the fifties. Maybe Haldeman was lost in time while he was writing it.
Scaryguy on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Haldeman is one of my favourite writers and, as usual, delivers a good read. The book is concise -- not some tome that goes on and on for days explaining everything and the toothbrush with it like some authors write -- and enjoyable. Time travel is a well-worn subject but Haldeman is able to deliver a new twist with just enough information to let the reader produce their own 'what-ifs' and finish the book with a positive outlook.This book stays in my library for a rainy day read.
hadden on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Good story about a MIT graduate assistant who invents a time machine by accident, but can only go into the future. A bit longish. I listened to this book on a Playaway in my car.
Punchout on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Just finished today 12 June 2012. I picked this book up looking for a fix that had been created by the great READY PLAYER ONE book I had recently finished. Wow, this book really surprised me, it is a great story. Of course I listened to the audio version and the narration was excellent. The only problem with the book is that some of the persons Matt meats as he jumps time are to easy to believe him when he says he is a time traveler. Otherwise, I have to say, this is one of my favorites. If you like sci-fi, time travel, look into the future and maybe even the past, then get it. If you don't like those things you likely will after you read this.
emitnick on LibraryThing 28 days ago
An MIT grad student discovers that a calibrator he built for an experiment is actually a time machine, but only into the future. Dreaming of fame and fortune (not to mention a Ph.D), Matt hops farther and farther into the future, dodging in and out of dicey situations and, incidentally, meeting a nice girl. The pleasant, easy-going style kept me reading, but the further I read, the more questions I had - and most were never answered. Frustrating...although the ending was a neat little twist.
clark.hallman on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Joe Haldeman, one of my favorite authors, covering time travel, one of my favorite fictional concepts. It doesn¿t get better than this! While working as a research assistant at MIT Matt Fuller, an A.B.D. physics graduate student, pushed the reset button on a calibrator, a piece of equipment that he had built that was supposed to produce one photon per chronon (the unit of time it takes light to travel the radius of an electron). Much to his surprise the calibrator disappeared. As he tried to inform his boss, the machine reappeared, and his boss thought he was hallucinating. Of course, he pushed the button again with the same result, except the machine took longer to reappear. He decided to ¿borrow¿ the machine to experiment with it at home and discovered that he could make other things disappear with the machine by placing them in any metal container that was attached to the machine via a wire and an alligator clip. He discovered that each time the machine disappeared, the length of time before it returned increased by a factor of twelve and the machine reappeared in a slightly different position and the distance from the starting position increased with each occurrence. After a turtle traveled and returned safely with the machine he decided to travel with it himself. He took his first time-trip in a 1956 Ford Thunderbird, attached to the machine and began an incredible journey of three million years into the future without knowing how to return. He encounters many interesting societies including one that is dominated by religion and has no technology after the second coming of Christ and another that is based on a barter system and controlled by an A.I. Luckily he acquires a beautiful woman as a companion for his journeys. This was a fascinating and enjoyable read and I found the ending to be very satisfying.
stubbyfingers on LibraryThing 28 days ago
This book somehow just didn't do it for me. The story started out with a lot of potential. A graduate assistant at MIT builds a machine that's supposed to do something fairly mundane, but he discovers that because of some error he made the machine actually travels through time. He sets off trying to figure out how and why this is happening. Except the story kind of falls apart halfway through. It gets out of hand and ridiculous and boring. This book really isn't worth your time to read.
hobreads on LibraryThing 28 days ago
A light but fun read.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I liked this book from the beginning, when Matt accidentally discovered his time machine, and tested it to see how it behaved, and learned to predict its behavior. He has no control over it, other than pressing a button and seeing when (and where) it goes. However, The Accidental Time Machine doesn't really come together until Matt starts to travel forward in time.The strength of this book is in the future worlds in creates. They aren't like anything I imagined, but I found them entirely plausible, and very interesting to consider.The characters were interesting enough. Personal growth wasn't the emphasis of the novel, and they filled their roles adequately. Neither was this a book about detailed plot or spectacular writing. I have no complaints in any of these areas. All in all, I found this an interesting, well-executed book.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Very enjoyable. Well plotted, dimensional characters, droll, with a good helping of satire. Hard SF, but not so much so that it clouds the story.
danichols on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An agreeable bildungsroman about Matt Fuller, a down-at-the-heels MIT grad student who accidentally invents a machine capable of propelling the user progressively further into the future with each use. The novel features many narrow escapes - from Boston police, 23rd-century religious zealots, genetically resurrected dinosaurs, and AIs with dubious motives - and ends with the sort of deus ex machina that is becoming increasingly common in Haldeman's novels. The final chapter, though, is a pleasant surprise, as is the author's Afterward on the science of time travel.
takieya on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An enjoyable story about stumbling into the world of time travel, much in the same way Marty McFly did in Back to the Future. Matt Fuller is armed with more knowledge, and realizes that taking his step into the future may mean that he can never get home. This leads Matt on a journey that will take him millions of years in the future.A fun story - definitely worth the read, especially if you enjoy novels about time travel.
blueslibrarian on LibraryThing 5 months ago
When Matt Fuller, a perpetual grad student at MIT constructs a time traveling machine by accident, his life and those around him are forever altered. One the run from the cops for a crime he didn't commit, Matt jumps further and further into the future, landing in a far future United States that has regressed into religious fanaticism. Traveling even farther into the future, Matt must confront a virtually omnipotent artificial intelligence to try to get back to his own time and save the woman he is falling in love with. This is a well written and pithy story of "hard" science fiction, that is, science fiction that adheres as best it can to true scientific principles. But this commitment never overwhelms the narrative as Haldeman's characters are complex and believable. A fine and mind expanding tale.
figre on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Right up front ¿ this is a fun read. It won¿t test you unnecessarily, there¿s not a deeper message to ponder. But neither is it a piece of fluff. It is good writing telling a good story. Now to back up a little bit. When the Nebula awards were held in Phoenix, during the author readings, I got the chance to hear Joe Haldeman read a part of this novel. (As an aside, he was reading from his hand-written originals ¿ the way he always writes, in note books with ink pens ¿ that was all part of another panel discussion that was one of the weirder moments in the convention.) He read from the part where Matt appears in the middle of traffic in his time traveling T-Bird wearing a wet suit and snorkel and (if I remember correctly) accompanied by his turtle. Don¿t ask. Just that snippet showed off Haldeman¿s unarguable talent as a writer. Throw in the obvious absurdity of that scene, and the fact that I will devour almost any time travel book (unless you make me read The Time Traveler¿s Wife again), and I was salivating for the book¿s publication. The resulting novel comes through on the promises. Again, it isn¿t overly deep. And, there is a little bit of ¿all wrapped up with a bow¿ at the end that detracts. But this is quibbling with an enjoyable story, a good read, and seemingly effortless writing.
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