Review: The Accidental Time Machine

The Accidental Time Machine
The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book felt like a 21st-century update to H.G. Wells’ original classic The Time Machine. The plot isn’t particularly exciting or meaningful. It’s just like the original, where a man moves forward through time and experiences fantastical new worlds. However, the future worlds are imagined based on our current understanding of science and technology.

The story actually feels hollow. There is barely any conflict in the book. Our protagonist travels into the future, faces some obstacle, and conveniently avoids the problem by travelling into the future again. Rinse and repeat; that’s basically the plot of the book.

It all ends when he travels far enough into the future where people have finally invented a backward travelling time machine so that he can go back to his original time. A pretty unexciting ending. It’s not much of a spoiler really. I was expecting something more, like time-travel magics, but that didn’t happen.

The book explores a lot of themes and future worlds, but only briefly. It glosses over the details of how these future worlds came to be. There are no real adventures in these future worlds other than stopping and having a look at it before travelling again. Kinda like a long road trip with pee breaks. The story should either have been much shorter than it currently is, or should have been longer to accommodate more detailed adventures.

Overall it’s a pretty short book, I finished it in 3.5 hours. If you are short on time travel fiction, then this one is easily digestible. Just don’t set your expectations too high.

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