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The Accidental Time Machine

June 6, 2010 10:37:07.657

I just finished reading The Accidental Time Machine, by Joe Haldeman. I haven't read a lot of his stuff since his classic The Forever War, but I like his writing style.

The characters in this book are mostly good, although "Martha" from the immediate future ends up being a little stiff. The main character, Matt, is better drawn, but is mostly along for the ride. I found the first half of the book to be very compelling, but - as with the H.G. Wells story with which is shares an awful lot, how things got to be the way they are whenever Matt lands is never explained. Maybe it's my love of alternate history, but I really wanted to know how the throwback Massachusetts (a primitive religious culture guarded by obnoxious AIs) got to be the way it is. Never mind though; it's off to the next stop.

The rest of the book tied things up too tightly, I thought. The more or less magical beings who work with Matt to get him to somewhere better just don't make a lot of sense, and by the end of the story, I felt like I did at the end of The Stand - a great opening had been rushed to a conclusion, with a fair amount of stuff in the middle that we didn't really need. I liked the book, but I can't give it a ringing endorsement. If you like Haldeman, you'll like the book. Otherwise, it's a quick read, but not a great one.

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posted by James Robertson

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