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The Accidental Time Machine

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Things are going nowhere for lowly MIT research assistant Matt Fuller--especially not after his girlfriend drops him for another man. But then while working late one night, he inadvertently stumbles upon what may be the greatest scientific breakthrough ever. His luck, however, runs out when he finds himself wanted for murder--in the future.


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Things are going nowhere for lowly MIT research assistant Matt Fuller--especially not after his girlfriend drops him for another man. But then while working late one night, he inadvertently stumbles upon what may be the greatest scientific breakthrough ever. His luck, however, runs out when he finds himself wanted for murder--in the future.

30 review for The Accidental Time Machine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Veeral

    **Review may contain some minor spoilers** The Accidental Time Machine came at a right time in my life. No, I am not having any “pre” mid-life crisis (not yet, at least); it’s just that that for the past dozen or so days, I was experiencing some serious reading withdrawal. I would pick up a book thinking that finally I have found the right one, read a couple of chapters, and then with a big sigh, put it back on the shelf. I couldn’t continue even if I found a book interesting. This happened at le **Review may contain some minor spoilers** The Accidental Time Machine came at a right time in my life. No, I am not having any “pre” mid-life crisis (not yet, at least); it’s just that that for the past dozen or so days, I was experiencing some serious reading withdrawal. I would pick up a book thinking that finally I have found the right one, read a couple of chapters, and then with a big sigh, put it back on the shelf. I couldn’t continue even if I found a book interesting. This happened at least 10 times until I picked up “The Accidental Time Machine”. And let me tell you, the only thing that is “accidental” here is that that the book’s hero, Matthew, "invents" the time machine accidentally (How else?). Apart from that, nothing that he does from then on could be considered inadvertent. He knew exactly where he was going and when. The machine only travelled into the future. But the time frame increased exponentially with each use, hence providing an intriguing set-up for the novel. One thing that annoys me whenever I read a time-travel story (no, the paradoxes don't deter me, or I shouldn't be reading this sort of book in the first place) is that that the characters generally behave rashly without contemplating whether they would survive time travelling. Just jump in and press the button! It’s surprising that none of them ever end up with their heads in the present and torso in the past or future. The author’s “science” exempts them from this very probable fate. And that bugs me. Every time. Thankfully, here Matthew does a lot of experiments and calculations (which are very interesting to read) before concluding that he could use the machine to transport himself to the future. In his journey, he comes across a religious dystopia from where a girl named Martha accompanies him on his further journeys. They travel much farther into the future to a utopia maintained by an AI. Understandably, the AI is bored of the utopia (utopias are always boring) and wants to accompany them on their future exploits, but not without its own ulterior motives. Matthew and Martha want to go back to their own respective times, but in order to do that, they have to travel to a future earth which might have made enough technological advances which might help them to travel to their original pasts (as I said earlier, his machine only travelled into the future). I won’t tell what exactly happens and ruin it for you, but I could at least say that this book is well-written, extremely funny at times, and raises a lot of questions about humanity living in various (advanced or backward) stages of civilization. The reviews for this book here are all over the place and the average rating is a bit lower than other well loved time-travel books, but in my opinion, that does not reflect the true difference of quality between “The Accidental Time Machine” and other more popular books like To Say Nothing of the Dog, Time and Again and The Anubis Gates. This book deserves as much appreciation as the other well-known books of the genre are getting. Even more, in some cases.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It's 2057 and Matt Fuller is a postgrad student in chronophysics at MIT. He's essentially given up on his thesis and works as an assistant to Professor Marsh, and his girlfriend Kara has just dumped him. Having constructed a calibrating machine for the professor's work, Matt hits the "reset" button and watches it blink out of existence, only to return before anyone but him notices. The second time he presses it, it disappears for ten seconds. Kidnapping the machine, he takes it home and pursues It's 2057 and Matt Fuller is a postgrad student in chronophysics at MIT. He's essentially given up on his thesis and works as an assistant to Professor Marsh, and his girlfriend Kara has just dumped him. Having constructed a calibrating machine for the professor's work, Matt hits the "reset" button and watches it blink out of existence, only to return before anyone but him notices. The second time he presses it, it disappears for ten seconds. Kidnapping the machine, he takes it home and pursues some experiments, figuring out that the machine time travels - first it was one second, then 10, then 170 and then 2073 seconds. By the time he gets up to three days, he's attached a turtle and a camera to it and tries again. This time the metal machine has shifted off its wooden base, as well. The camera shows nothing but some grey static for a short time, and the turtle hasn't been gone long enough, in its own time reference, to need water, food or sleep. The clock he had attached shows it was gone for only a minute. Matt calculates that the next time jump will be for 39 days and a bigger distance, and decides to go with it. He needs a metal cage, and borrows an old Ford from his drug-dealer friend Denny. Reappearing a minute later, in his own time, to create a traffic accident, Matt's arrested for the murder of Denny, who died when he saw the car vanish in front of his drug-addled eyes. When his million-dollar bail is paid by someone who looks like him and who sends him a message, Get in the car and go!, Matt jumps forward in time over 170 years, only to find that the world is a very different place and he's no closer to finding a civilisation that can help him go back in time to bail himself out of jail. The only thing he can do is keep moving forward in time. This book has plenty of promise, but is disappointingly flat. Matt is a non-entity - in fact, none of the characters are fleshed out much and simply function as plot devices, vehicles through which to move the story forward. Which is ironic, since the story is the characters and can't exist without them. I couldn't even tell you what they looked like. Not a big deal, but a good writer will create a fully realised and very real character through their personality, their dialogue, their choices, and so you get a very real sense of them without details like what colour hair they have etc. Sadly, Matt doesn't have much of a personality, or charisma, or attributes that make you care one way or the other. The other disappointing aspect of the novel is the time travelling itself. While there is a bit of a creepy, almost scary atmosphere - jumping forward so far that humans don't even exist anymore tends to make me feel pretty melancholy and blah - it's wasn't terribly imaginative, and lacks realism because it presupposes certain things, such as a very stable environment, for which there is every indication we have royally screwed up. While there is one neat little twist at the very end, to do with genealogy, the big glaring "who paid Matt's bail and how?" question was never fully resolved. Oh, there's a trite explanation, but I was left feeling way more confused than before. By the end of the novel, I was feeling quite apathetic towards the whole story. What was the point? What message did it convey? I'd say there are a few "messages" concerning the human condition and the fundamental laws of physics etc., but I really didn't care enough to bother thinking about them. I could tell that they were there, but unlike some other books with similar themes, or potent "messages", I couldn't help but think that I could spend oh so many minutes thinking about it, and deduce nothing original from it. I didn't mind the book while I was reading it, though it took longer than it should have, being short and simply enough written. Now that I'm writing this review and all the negatives are coming out, I'm going to have to revise my rating of 3 and give it a 2: it was okay, just okay.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    The Accidental Time Machine is the kind of old-fashioned science fiction I loved growing up. It's got a brevity and tone that's very much like Bradbury or Asimov. I've always been a sucker for time travel stories and this one didn't disappoint. There was a lot of detail left out that other author probably would have included, but that was fine with me. In current books, authors have a tendency to spell everything out for the reader. Haldeman doesn't do that. As a result, the reader has to use hi The Accidental Time Machine is the kind of old-fashioned science fiction I loved growing up. It's got a brevity and tone that's very much like Bradbury or Asimov. I've always been a sucker for time travel stories and this one didn't disappoint. There was a lot of detail left out that other author probably would have included, but that was fine with me. In current books, authors have a tendency to spell everything out for the reader. Haldeman doesn't do that. As a result, the reader has to use his or her imagination to fill in the blanks. While this isn't a great book, it was a lot of FUN to read. I had a hard time putting it down, and was sorry when it was over.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    I flew through this book. It gets going on page one and doesn't stop for a moment. It's non-stop fun, it's unexpected, and it's just fantastic story telling. The name tells you everything you need to know about the story, but not how enjoyable it is! Life is fleeting. Also it isn't. There are a number of iterations of humanity all of which seem as likely as the last. Makes you wonder where we'll be as a society in however many years time... Big thumbs up. Lots of enjoyment in this one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well, I didn't particularly like the book but I didn't not like it either. Another reader noted that they felt ambivalent about the book and I'd say that's accurate for me as well. It was a somewhat interesting, light read - perfect for a long flight or the beach. ***SPOILER*** The most interesting part of the novel is when they settle in the past but that was only covered for a few pages as if it was almost shoved in as a wrap up. The book almost seemed incomplete - missing lots of detail and mo Well, I didn't particularly like the book but I didn't not like it either. Another reader noted that they felt ambivalent about the book and I'd say that's accurate for me as well. It was a somewhat interesting, light read - perfect for a long flight or the beach. ***SPOILER*** The most interesting part of the novel is when they settle in the past but that was only covered for a few pages as if it was almost shoved in as a wrap up. The book almost seemed incomplete - missing lots of detail and more like a movie script. That being said, I don't know if I enjoyed the general plot enough to want the book to be expanded. ***END SPOILER*** My recommendation: If you need to kill a few hours on a plane, pick this up. Otherwise, you are not missing out too much.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    I have fairly specific requirements for time travel stories. However they treat time travel it has to make sense to me. This book did which is the main reason it got 5 stars. The plot is actually fairly simplistic and there are really only 2-3 characters none of whom are very deep or rich, but it was quite entertaining. The story follows Matt into the distance future, one leap at a time in a way that reminded me quite a bit of Marooned in Realtime (another favorite).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    A couple of years ago, I pounded the Goodreads pavement pretty hard searching for pretty much any time-travel book I could find to add to my ever-growing to-read list (a list which has, to my horror, since surpassed 1,500 books–for every book I periodically cull, ten more pop up in its place). The Accidental Time Machine was one of the books I found. I’d heard of Joe Haldeman because his Forever War series is a classic of the military sci-fi genre, although I have yet to read it. I wish I had st A couple of years ago, I pounded the Goodreads pavement pretty hard searching for pretty much any time-travel book I could find to add to my ever-growing to-read list (a list which has, to my horror, since surpassed 1,500 books–for every book I periodically cull, ten more pop up in its place). The Accidental Time Machine was one of the books I found. I’d heard of Joe Haldeman because his Forever War series is a classic of the military sci-fi genre, although I have yet to read it. I wish I had started with that series instead, because this book was kind of a dud. Anyway, it certainly hasn’t left me with much faith in Haldeman as a serious author. The Accidental Time Machine is exactly like what you’d expect it to be based on the title. Ex-graduate student Matt Fuller accidentally creates a time machine while working as a research assistant for an MIT physics professor. Newly dumped, and even more newly fired, Matt decides to pop off into the future instead of sticking around in the present (his time machine only goes one way). Hijinks ensue. The plot of the book held my attention. Parts of it, particularly the parts at the beginning when Matt is doing his experiments on his time machine and figuring out how it all works, were really interesting to read about. But as soon as Matt starts interacting with other characters, and then jumping further and further into the future, I was less and less impressed with him, and with the book. It’s definitely an intentional, modern homage to The Time Machine, with all the metaphorical social commentary that entails, but the updates Haldeman made to the basic story, and the futures he invented just didn’t hit me very hard or seem all that novel. Plus, Matt is kind of a sexist asshole. I mean, he’s okay. But he has so little personality to begin with that when he makes so many comments about objectifying women, and then the whole thing later with him (view spoiler)[ marrying the naive little religious waif who is somehow also open about sex, and turning her into a science sex waif instead (hide spoiler)] , it ended up coming off really creepy. It felt like wish-fulfillment writing. Male wish-fulfillment writing. Matt’s also a loser in general. He only gets his shit together because something he did accidentally blew up physics as he knows it. And even then, he spends the rest of his life (view spoiler)[ one hundred years in the past being purposefully mediocre so as to not set off any alarms or be in the public eye, so his future self doesn’t take notice (hide spoiler)] . He has no emotional arc. That was probably my main complaint, actually, is that all the characters in this are extremely shallow and cliched. They’re basically a vehicle for the conceit of the story. I guess there’s nothing really wrong with that approach, but for me, the plot wasn’t interesting enough to make up for the character lack. The whole book ended up feeling like it thought it was smarter and more profound and innovative than it actually was. I’m not mad I read it, though. It was enjoyable for a quick audiobook read. The narrator Kevin R. Free wasn’t that great, but he wasn’t as abysmal as some of the reviews here had led me to believe. At this point, my review feels kind of futile, because I seem to be wishing Haldeman had written almost a completely different book than he did. I’m still going to check out The Forever War eventually. I just hope Haldeman is better with military sci-fi than he is with time travel.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Denis

    I haven't read much of Haldeman's work. I have read "The Forever War" and I don't recall much of it. Just remember that I liked it enough, but did not love it. This one was very unexpected. It was a whole lot of fun. Good time travel story written with a golden age approach. A little is Heinlein, Silverberg and definitely a Well influence here - protagonist even has a Wena like character tagging along with him. There some sloppy bits and a little questionable motivation issues, but over all it w I haven't read much of Haldeman's work. I have read "The Forever War" and I don't recall much of it. Just remember that I liked it enough, but did not love it. This one was very unexpected. It was a whole lot of fun. Good time travel story written with a golden age approach. A little is Heinlein, Silverberg and definitely a Well influence here - protagonist even has a Wena like character tagging along with him. There some sloppy bits and a little questionable motivation issues, but over all it was good fun right to the end.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    **A spoiler or two follow, but nothing that will wreck The Accidental Time Machine. At least I don't think they will.** The Accidental Time Machine is a pretty disappointing piece of Sci-Fi, but then my expectations were probably too high. I've heard great things about Joe Haldeman over the years, particularly about his Hugo Award Winning book The Forever War, so I was expecting The Accidental Time Machine to be entertaining and hoping it would be compelling. It was neither. Before I go on, thoug **A spoiler or two follow, but nothing that will wreck The Accidental Time Machine. At least I don't think they will.** The Accidental Time Machine is a pretty disappointing piece of Sci-Fi, but then my expectations were probably too high. I've heard great things about Joe Haldeman over the years, particularly about his Hugo Award Winning book The Forever War, so I was expecting The Accidental Time Machine to be entertaining and hoping it would be compelling. It was neither. Before I go on, though, I should mention that The Accidental Time Machine is only the third book I have ever listened to on tape. So I didn't "read" this book, I listened to it; a mode of delivery that I fear may have fatally altered my perception of Haldeman's story because I couldn't stand the narrator. Kevin R. Free's vocal performance was terrible. Often, he failed to match the emotion that Haldeman's words intended; the voices he provided for different characters occasionally bled into one another, detracting from the flow of the story, forcing me to struggle to figure out who was speaking; and his accents -- Boston, Australian, Imaginary -- were universally unconvincing. I found myself wishing over and over that someone else was reading this book. (I also took out Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea that day, and if my experience with that isn't better I may be finished with audio books for good). I am not convinced, however, that Kevin R. Free is completely to blame for my disappointment in The Accidental Time Machine. I never seemed to connect to the story itself, and a big part of that had to do with my feelings for the painfully flat protagonist, Matt. I never cared about Matt, and I had a hard time buying his slacker calm. Whether he was walking into the Massachusetts Institute of Theosophy, being interrogated for the murder of his former drug dealer, turning over his bottle of wine to an insane auction in a distant, future, uber-L.A., or placing his trust in the strange, time machine sextet, Matt was totally unflappable. But get him around a naked woman, a futuristic porn computer, a cuddly ex-girlfriend, or his Nobel Prize winning grandson nee mentor, and he is suddenly Mister Flappable. And that's his entire personality in two mini-paragraphs. Maybe I can make it even simpler still: slacker unflappability or squirmy, petty flappability. He never grows, he never changes, and he ultimately makes a happy life out of mediocrity. What a hero. And I won't even get into Martha and her boring sexual naïveté, athiest/agnostic awakening, or modest/immodesty. Sure, there were some clever and likable bits. I enjoyed "La" for a while, the artificial intelligence who embodied Los Angeles; I thought the memory helmet was a nice touch; and something about the family Matt caught fish with in the time of the Christers was satisfying. But there was way too much crap. Haldeman referenced countless sci-fi classics without subtlety or inspiration, his ending was too pat, too deus ex machina, and the constantly forward moving action -- jumping, jumping, jumping -- never really made sense to me in connection with Matt's character. I just didn't believe he was a curious enough person to drive the plot forward in that manner. And then there was Haldeman's constant use of "not un-." George Orwell's disdain for the "not un-" configuration is one that I share not undeeply. Haldeman did it and did it and did it again, and I wanted to not unstrangle him.. He's not the only author who uses "not un-." Many do. But I usually notice its use and move on, letting it fade into the background when the story has anything to offer me. The fact that my aggravation grew every time Haldeman used it is a sign of how disappointed in The Accidental Time Machine I am. My feelings about Kevin R. Free's vocal performance mitigates, ever so slightly, my negative feelings for Haldeman's book, but if Haldeman doesn't impress me when I read The Forever War our relationship as author and reader will be over for good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karina

    This was light reading; I have finished it in one day. I'm still not all clear on the detail how the protagonist bails himself out of prison, and it's bothering me. So I guess the conclusion isn't all that neat as in The Door Into Summer where the story goes full circle. Still there was a happy ending for the protagonist apparently. I kind of wish I'd finished reading Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid since this book mentions Godel and strange loops, which I only have a basic understa This was light reading; I have finished it in one day. I'm still not all clear on the detail how the protagonist bails himself out of prison, and it's bothering me. So I guess the conclusion isn't all that neat as in The Door Into Summer where the story goes full circle. Still there was a happy ending for the protagonist apparently. I kind of wish I'd finished reading Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid since this book mentions Godel and strange loops, which I only have a basic understanding of.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Forgot I read this when I was sick last week. Very reminiscent of Heinlein's predictions of humanity in the future, with a few darker twists. During creation of a calibration instrument for his laboratory, grad-school protagonist Matt Fuller accidentally creates a machine that jumps into the future in ever-increasing steps, and must continue forward in the effort to discover a way back. A fun romp through many sci-fi tropes.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    This was the SciFi selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club for the month of June 2009. Visit this link to see all of the discussions, group member reviews, etc. This is old school science fiction. Very clever, nicely thought-out hard-scifi plausibility, and very light on character development. The plot is a classic voyage-and-return in which our likable but flawed protagonist is more-or-less forced far from home, undergoes struggles, and — perhaps — finds his way home. Along the wa This was the SciFi selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club for the month of June 2009. Visit this link to see all of the discussions, group member reviews, etc. This is old school science fiction. Very clever, nicely thought-out hard-scifi plausibility, and very light on character development. The plot is a classic voyage-and-return in which our likable but flawed protagonist is more-or-less forced far from home, undergoes struggles, and — perhaps — finds his way home. Along the way he meets allies and opponents, and a little romance (okay, so that isn't classic scifi). There is no grand villain here, which isn't a surprise since scifi isn't as taken with the myth of pure evil as fantasy is. The book is a moderately short and easy read; I think it took me six or so hours in total. It isn't a riveting page-turner, but shouldn't have any problems holding the attention of a scifi fan for its duration. The lack of any deep characters will be dismaying to many, and it is that aspect that earned this only three stars. We spend the entire book inside the head of the protagonist (third-person narrative, but I don't think it ever strayed far from the first person), but we never get to know him as any more than your classic scifi character, the grad-school mild-misfit. He never got around to finishing his PhD -- why? He just broke up with his girlfriend (who remains a minor but critical character) -- why? His father is never really mentioned. He was never circumcised, despite being Jewish, but this curious detail isn't revealing of any interesting history, just a trivial plot device. He has a mildly strained relationship with his mother, who might drink too much and might call too often. But when his escapades means that he has to abandon her in her senior years, he actually doesn't even factor this into his decision. Still, we like him. And Haldeman triggers the appropriate superficial reactions to the other characters as well, although Haldeman isn't doing any extra work here, since all the female characters described in any detail are very attractive or better, and the male lead is no worse than mildly disheveled. A nice evening's read. P.S. Anyone know why the time traveler looks like Jesus? I guess there's an obvious answer, but it seems like such an arbitrary plot device that I hope I'm wrong.  

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Oh the fun you can have with time travel. I would say this was a slightly above average sci-fi exploration of the space-time continuum, although I thought it borrowed a little too heavily from H.G. Wells' classic. The periodic regression of civilization and the eventual extinction of life on Earth just didn't strike me as that creative. I would have also like to see more on the inherent paradoxes of time travel instead of the clumsy interpersonal relationships he spends so much time on. I don't Oh the fun you can have with time travel. I would say this was a slightly above average sci-fi exploration of the space-time continuum, although I thought it borrowed a little too heavily from H.G. Wells' classic. The periodic regression of civilization and the eventual extinction of life on Earth just didn't strike me as that creative. I would have also like to see more on the inherent paradoxes of time travel instead of the clumsy interpersonal relationships he spends so much time on. I don't read enough modern sci-fi to know where this one ranks relative to others, but I'll make a wild stab at the future myself and predict that people will be reading Wells' "The Time Machine" long after Haldeman goes out of print. If you liked this one, however, I would recommend Robert Sawyer's "Flashforward" for another cool take on seeing into the future.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelly H. (Maybedog)

    I love Joe Haldeman. His books are very readable, interesting, and move forward at a reasonable speed. The ideas are interesting and thought-provoking, his characters realistic, fallible, but likable anyway. This book is no exception. I liked the main character, understood his motivations, and the plot moved along at a good clip. I read the book at one sitting. The plot was interesting: would you use a time machine if you could only go forward, even to save your hide? The future was not what I e I love Joe Haldeman. His books are very readable, interesting, and move forward at a reasonable speed. The ideas are interesting and thought-provoking, his characters realistic, fallible, but likable anyway. This book is no exception. I liked the main character, understood his motivations, and the plot moved along at a good clip. I read the book at one sitting. The plot was interesting: would you use a time machine if you could only go forward, even to save your hide? The future was not what I expected, either, and completely believable. My only problem was with the ending. I felt it weak and a little contrived. I also thought not everything was explained well enough. But overall it was a very entertaining read, thoroughly enjoyable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    This is the first book I've read by this author and I found it an easy, interesting read. I've got the dreaded bronchitis yet again, so I was grateful to have a book I didn't have to think too hard about. What I liked best about this is that while the scientific theory could be a possibility to time travel, the author didn't go all physics teacher on me. Wrote what it was but I didn't have to get mind-bendy to comprehend it. The story was more about the person(s) involved and the journey, not so This is the first book I've read by this author and I found it an easy, interesting read. I've got the dreaded bronchitis yet again, so I was grateful to have a book I didn't have to think too hard about. What I liked best about this is that while the scientific theory could be a possibility to time travel, the author didn't go all physics teacher on me. Wrote what it was but I didn't have to get mind-bendy to comprehend it. The story was more about the person(s) involved and the journey, not so much the science involved. A good balance for my liking.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth A.

    I got caught in this story immediately, it had an interesting premise, and it flowed quickly. It was entertaining enough to keep me up late even though I was very tired and had a long drive the next day. The characters were believable even if some of their circumstances required a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. I liked the ending, too. Note: This book contains some themes that reflect negatively on religion, also occasional foul language, drug use, and not-too-explicit mention of por I got caught in this story immediately, it had an interesting premise, and it flowed quickly. It was entertaining enough to keep me up late even though I was very tired and had a long drive the next day. The characters were believable even if some of their circumstances required a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. I liked the ending, too. Note: This book contains some themes that reflect negatively on religion, also occasional foul language, drug use, and not-too-explicit mention of porn/masturbation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    The first Sci-Fi story I've enjoyed in years. It was a tad too long on the spiritual in my opinion, nevertheless 9 of 10 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Denny

    I loved the first 80% of this book. So what an amazing letdown the end is. A Deus Ex Machina solution that's never explained, mysteries presented in the book that are never addressed, and characters that seem awfully blase about rather significant events. And so many other issues, but I don't want to get into spoiler territory. I have read books with weak endings, but this almost feels like Haldeman got bored with writing the book and just decided to wrap it all up quickly. I can't think of anot I loved the first 80% of this book. So what an amazing letdown the end is. A Deus Ex Machina solution that's never explained, mysteries presented in the book that are never addressed, and characters that seem awfully blase about rather significant events. And so many other issues, but I don't want to get into spoiler territory. I have read books with weak endings, but this almost feels like Haldeman got bored with writing the book and just decided to wrap it all up quickly. I can't think of another time I've ever actually been angry upon reaching the end of a novel. It's not a case of plot elements left to the reader to imagine, it's a case of sigificant characters and events that are given no explanation at all. (view spoiler)[ For instance, much time is spent introducing us to Martha, and we see that she's a curious, intelligent person, who would have been stifled by the society she lived in. But then after all of her character buildup, all we get is "she went to college, had some kids, and then died at 75." Who paid Matthew's bail? It's implied there may have been multiple instances of Matthew traveling through time, but this was never explored, explained, or even confirmed. Why weren't Matthew and Martha at all upset when they missed their target by nearly 200 years, with no way to travel forward again? Who WERE Jessie and the other travelers? Why could they magically send Matthew back? How did they communicate with him before his arrival? (hide spoiler)]

  19. 4 out of 5

    J.P.

    This just borrowed too much from previous writings for me. It's simular to H.G. Wells The Time Machine and the plot is also akin to the author's best work The Forever War. Beware, spoilers ahead....there are a few nice twists here. The user can go only forward, in increasing amounts of years and he doesn't return to where he started out from. At first, this works pretty well. He gets into awkward situations and manages to get out of them by activating the time machine and making another jump. Bu This just borrowed too much from previous writings for me. It's simular to H.G. Wells The Time Machine and the plot is also akin to the author's best work The Forever War. Beware, spoilers ahead....there are a few nice twists here. The user can go only forward, in increasing amounts of years and he doesn't return to where he started out from. At first, this works pretty well. He gets into awkward situations and manages to get out of them by activating the time machine and making another jump. But this story contains a lot of unanswered questions, characters were used that made me wonder why they had to be there in the first place and then in the last third or so the book fell flat. The story started to rely on trite dialogue between shallow characters and at that point I felt it couldn't end fast enough. A good enough read for Haldeman fans but for everyone else if you're looking for a time travel story there are better ones available.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    It was an interesting time travel book, as engaging as any of his books are; well written & quite readable. The main character was likable & often fun. The end was unexpected, but not as filling as I hoped it would be. Haldeman lays out some interesting scenarios about our possible future(s) along the way. I found them all very well done.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Branstetter

    A different way to look at how a time machine might work. I really enjoyed this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    B.C. Young

    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 ve 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.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kate Sherrod

    This book often threatened to tip into the territory of David Gerrold's wondrous The Man Who Folded Himself but never quite made that trip. It would have been fine with me if it had, but one of those is probably enough. What we have here instead is a playful use of a not-quite-MacGuffin (as Haldeman explains in his author's note, a scientific paper was quite recently published in which his graviton/string theory conceit is explored as serious science) to explore a few possible futures for its pro This book often threatened to tip into the territory of David Gerrold's wondrous The Man Who Folded Himself but never quite made that trip. It would have been fine with me if it had, but one of those is probably enough. What we have here instead is a playful use of a not-quite-MacGuffin (as Haldeman explains in his author's note, a scientific paper was quite recently published in which his graviton/string theory conceit is explored as serious science) to explore a few possible futures for its protagonist and the little world he stubbornly refuses to give up on as his home, even as it morphs beyond recognition with the passage of years, then centuries, then millennia. As others have complained, there is not a great depth of character: Matthew is drawn in somewhat broad strokes as a semi-hapless yet brilliant graduate student; his traveling companion fares somewhat better with a charming mix of innocence and intelligence shining through her simplest dialog. I, for one, am entirely ready to forgive this as I'm carried along on their journey through some surprising time-scapes, and amused by the possibility of a time machine being accidentally created during the construction of a simple tool.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dan Absalonson

    This book had some very interesting ideas in it, but it was boring. Maybe it's just that I'm not as into hard science fiction like this if it is indeed hard SF. There was a lot of scientific jargon in this book that some readers may find delightful, just not me. I think the main reason I almost didn't finish it is that I could care less what happened to the main character. Nothing about him made me interested in him, or made me like him. He's just kind of a loser who accidentally discovered a ti This book had some very interesting ideas in it, but it was boring. Maybe it's just that I'm not as into hard science fiction like this if it is indeed hard SF. There was a lot of scientific jargon in this book that some readers may find delightful, just not me. I think the main reason I almost didn't finish it is that I could care less what happened to the main character. Nothing about him made me interested in him, or made me like him. He's just kind of a loser who accidentally discovered a time machine. I'd still say give it a try if it sounds like a book you'd really enjoy, it just wasn't for me - but I've read worse books for sure. Haldeman's writing style was kind of vanilla, which can be good if it is meant to be that way to get out of the way and just give you the story - but in this case for me the story was kind of slow and boring. Once I did get into the last third or fourth of the book it was a fairly fun ride through time, and did become much more interesting. It might have worked better if the protag met the girl earlier in his journey - that was when I started to like it. That's about all I have to say for this book. I gave it 2/5 stars because on Goodreads when you hover over the 2nd star it says "it was ok." That's how I feel, it wasn't terrible, it was ok. Still it has some pretty cool ideas and might be an good read for the more scientifically minded reader.

  25. 5 out of 5

    JodiP

    I listened to this book, and that may have been a big part of the problem. I had so loved Forever War, and had high expectations for this. However, I really disliked the reader: he seemed like a laconic 15-year-old and had a very wooden style of reading. I don't think Haldeman did a good job with the main character, Matt, either. He seemed so sophomoric. Also, it's 2008: can we get a woman heroine or not? How would this had been different if the matt character and the professor had been women? W I listened to this book, and that may have been a big part of the problem. I had so loved Forever War, and had high expectations for this. However, I really disliked the reader: he seemed like a laconic 15-year-old and had a very wooden style of reading. I don't think Haldeman did a good job with the main character, Matt, either. He seemed so sophomoric. Also, it's 2008: can we get a woman heroine or not? How would this had been different if the matt character and the professor had been women? Would that not be possible in 2035? The only women were so lame and uninteresting. I stopped listening when they got to LA's palace. There is also a huge technical glitch: when Matt operates the machine the first two times, it came back, with subjective time being a second! But when he goes, it never returns; he can only go forward.

  26. 4 out of 5

    This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For

    A light book about time travel gone awry, I never really warmed up to the story. It starts out interestingly enough, but then somehow meanders along its way, more or less like the main character who is remarkably flat for all that happens. Lightly amusing without being particularly funny, it's an easy read, but left me somewhat unsatisfied in the end. While the very ending of the book (essentially the epilogue, although not labeled as such) was very well done, I didn't particularly understand th A light book about time travel gone awry, I never really warmed up to the story. It starts out interestingly enough, but then somehow meanders along its way, more or less like the main character who is remarkably flat for all that happens. Lightly amusing without being particularly funny, it's an easy read, but left me somewhat unsatisfied in the end. While the very ending of the book (essentially the epilogue, although not labeled as such) was very well done, I didn't particularly understand the logic of the primary conclusion of the plot, which pretty much fell out of nowhere Deus ex machina style.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    Another compulsively readable title from Joe Haldeman. Think The Forever War in terms of scope & central character focus. The hero is pretty much instantly likable and it has a nice denouement at the end. It'll be a quick read for you--finished it in one day, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that it moves swiftly, through time no less! Pa-ching! I agree that the introduction of a deus ex machina towards the end leaves more questions than answers, but overall it was a great read for a Another compulsively readable title from Joe Haldeman. Think The Forever War in terms of scope & central character focus. The hero is pretty much instantly likable and it has a nice denouement at the end. It'll be a quick read for you--finished it in one day, but that shouldn't detract from the fact that it moves swiftly, through time no less! Pa-ching! I agree that the introduction of a deus ex machina towards the end leaves more questions than answers, but overall it was a great read for a Saturday afternoon.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    This was pretty good - Haldeman is a great storyteller, and his characters are always likeable. Maybe it's because I recently watched the time travel movie Primer, but the invention/discovery of the time machine seemed a little trite (this box was designed to do x, but it's actually a time machine!) The time travel itself was very interesting, and different from anything I've read. The book might be considered post-apocalyptic, as the time traveler discovers a future world in which he is terribly This was pretty good - Haldeman is a great storyteller, and his characters are always likeable. Maybe it's because I recently watched the time travel movie Primer, but the invention/discovery of the time machine seemed a little trite (this box was designed to do x, but it's actually a time machine!) The time travel itself was very interesting, and different from anything I've read. The book might be considered post-apocalyptic, as the time traveler discovers a future world in which he is terribly disappointed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    This book was a good read. The pacing and characterization were enjoyable. Nevertheless, there were some problems with it. It was a "time travelogue." The main character went skipping through the time stream, stopping here and there to experience the earth at that time. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, but it was less satisfying than a book based on a specific goal or plot. The mechanism behind the time machine was also less than satisfactory to me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    spikeINflorida

    An unconvincing character time travels up the line and encounters ignorant evangelicals, a cute and curious virgin, sexy swingin' yard-salers, talking bears, Dinosaur Land, and Jesus' motley crue. A somewhat entertaining 260 page story that reads like a crazy comic strip; however, the first Joe Haldeman book I cannot truly recommend.

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