The Accidental Time Machine (Haldeman)

by Joe Haldeman

Ever eat a whole bag of Doritos, then look at the bag in puzzlement? “How’d I do that?” you wonder. “I didn’t mean to eat the whole bag, honest…”
That’s how I felt after reading this book. I’m a huge Joe Haldeman fan, so I was excited to see The Accidental Time Machine at Amazon. I got it yesterday and settled down to read it (along with a bologna sandwich and a refreshing beverage.) I was immediately captivated, again, by Haldeman’s imaginative mixture of science and fiction.
Matt’s a slacker graduate student who accidentally invents (or, more properly, discovers) a time machine. It has two interesting properties: first, it only goes into the future; second, each time it’s activated, it goes approximately 12 times farther uptime. Matt experiments with it and ends up in a variety of weird situations: arrested for murder, a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Theosophy, and so on. Throughout, Haldeman keeps his explanations logical and plausible. Matt isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, so it’s easier to identify with him than the ubersmart superhero characters some SF writers use (yes, John Ringo and Michael Williamson, I’m looking at you). He’s got ordinary problems: his girlfriend leaves him, he loses his job, and so on. However, he perserveres until a surprisingly good ending that neatly caps off Haldeman’s plotting.
Highly recommended.

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