Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Accidental Time Machine (corrected)

Being somewhat limited in my activities today (see previous post), I decided to spend the morning reading Joe Haldeman's new book, The Accidental Time Machine. I'm a fast reader, 2 hours last night before bed and two hours this morning, 278 pages, and I'm done. That's about average for me.

Don't worry about spoilers, I won't ruin it for you.

I've always been a fan of Joe Haldeman. The Forever War is one of my favorites, especially the author's special edition, with the central section restored to Haldeman's original. I reread the Worlds trilogy every couple years, and All My Sins Remembered. I didn't much care for the sequel to The Forever War though, Forever Free* because I just didn't like the ending. And I really didn't like Old Twentieth, for the same reason, I hated the ending. But, hey, it's Haldeman, and there are dammed few authors I really like, so when Amazon offered me a discount on a hardcover of the The Accidental Time Machine, I bought it.

And I'm glad I did.

The Accidental Time Machine is like the Haldeman of old - only more light hearted and funnier. There's a humorous undertone to the narration that is missing from his more serious books. The story is interesting, the characters are thoroughly enjoyable people, the pacing is fast, and it ends on an upbeat. There's a little of everything, danger, technology, religion, mysterious intelligences with unexplained motives, and a turtle. Haldeman doesn't explain everything, you're left with a few mysteries to flesh out for yourself. Haldeman gives you plenty of clues, but doesn't beat you over the head with the details - in other words, he assumes his readers are smart and imaginative and they don't need every little subplot explained. I consider that a compliment.

Unlike much of Haldeman's previous work, The Accidental Time Machine is not military, the protagonist is a lowly, under-achieving research assistant at MIT, who makes an accidental discovery resulting in a strange and sometimes dangerous trip into the future.

Haldeman is back on track with this one, and I'll give the book the highest compliment I can - I wish it was longer, because I would have liked to have seen just a bit more of the world he created.

* Correction: In the original post I had incorrectly said the sequel to the Forever War, was Haldeman's Forever Peace. David Kletcha pointed this out in the comments and I fixed it in the post. So David's comment no longer makes any sense, but that's OK, better he look crazy rather than me. Thanks David.


  1. I thought the same thing about the ending to Forever Free (which may be what you're thinking of? Free is a direct sequel to War, involving the same characters and whatnot. Peace isn't). But that one? Lame ending.

    I'll pick up The Accidental Time Machine. Sounds good.

  2. David, yep you're right. It was Forever Free I was thinking of, but I was too lazy to actually go look it up. I didn't like Peace either though.

    Time Machine is much better, I really enjoyed it.


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