booksforfood (booksforfood) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

71. The Accidental Time Machine - Joe Haldeman

71. The Accidental Time Machine - Joe Haldeman - 288 pages (3.5/5)

Firstly, I want Joe Haldeman's life. He teaches two classes in fall on science fiction writing at MIT. The rest of the time he writes, draws, paints, plays guitar, and travels extensively with his wife, whom he's been married to since he was 22. What a life.
Of Joe Haldeman's work, I've previously read The Forever War and Forever Peace. The second is not a sequel to the first, despite the similar names. The name of the sequel is, confusingly, Forever Free. In general, enjoy Haldeman's work because he has a degree in physics, and so the science in it is at least vaguely plausible, or perhaps one day possible. It definitely gives him an edge over other authors who treat technology very similar to how magic is used in fantasy.
The Accidental Time Machine tells the story of a young graduate student at MIT, Matt, who, you guessed it, accidentally makes a time machine. He jumps a few weeks into the future, finds out he's wanted for a crime he didn't committ, and jumps forward again. He doesn't like that future, either, so he proceeds to jump again. This trend continues, with the increments getting longer and longer, because he hopes that eventually he will come to a future where they have invented a machine to send him back. This, in my opinion, is very silly logic, because he easily could have jumped into a future where humanity is extinct, the atmosphere is toxic, or there was a second dark age and there is no technology whatsoever.
I enjoy Joe Haldeman's postulations of the future. In The Forever War, in order to combat human overpopulation, most of Earth's population becomes homosexual. In one of the futures in The Accidental Time Machine, Christianity has become beyond fundamental because "Jesus" has returned and is now president of the United States. In that future, he connects with a very naieve young woman named Martha, who ends up accompaning him to other futures, and eventually a robot named La also joins their motley crew.
Initially, I was not too impressed with the pacing and dialogue, but once he leaves the near future of Earth and ventures through time, I enjoyed myself. I thought the end was too tidy and a bit of a cop out, but I was not upset with it enough that it soured my enjoyment of the book. I'll continue to read and enjoy Haldeman's future, but I wouldn't consider this his best work.

(P.S. Hi, I like new friends!)

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