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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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This is a genial time travel story - MIT assistant discovers a piece of kit that can move forward (not backward) in time, each jump having to be further then the previous one. So off he jumps into various futures and sees the various changes in society in future years and thousands of years....

This is very light and fun. Although the author explores his usual themes of change there is no real sense of danger or tension although some of the darker `futures' had a real opportunity to do so. Haldeman touches on religion but again avoids making a real point.

The book felt very 1950's SF and although I felt was a little too light it was fun and easily read in one or two sittings.
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on 29 December 2008
Having read only The Forever War series by Haldeman previously I was interested reading another one of his books, and after a favourable review from SF site I chose this one. Time-travel and Alternate Histories are sub genres I have a great fondness for if done well, and I am glad to say this book delivers. The story is engrossing, the characters are brought to life convincingly and the story keeps a good pace. The particular object chosen as time-travel device is interesting in its mobility and versatility and refreshing in the accidental way it came about. The premise of only traveling forward and the uncertainty of the exact location of appearance add to the suspense. The wrap-up and ending are extremely satisfying, it is rare I am left with a good satiated feeling after reading a book. It's pretty short, page-turning and rewarding - no more can be asked from any modern SF novel.
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on 20 March 2012
A nice approach to the idea of time travel. Happened by accident; quickly accepted by the main character - would he really have realised what was happening so quickly? Love the idea that there was a pattern to the time-steps, but again would it have been spotted so quickly? If the multiplier have been a lot larger than 12 then the story would not be there; much less and the story would be too slow - I wonder how long it took to arrive at a sensible figure? There were a few ambiguous parts to the book, but then what would you expect with a subject which leads itself directly to paradoxes? A statement near the end that many trips to the past had been made did not quite fit with the idea that the reverse trip could be either to a place or to a time but not to both. The final paradox of being a descendant of oneself needs a little thought! Good enjoyable book, but the end was a little brief.
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on 17 November 2015
Solid read by Joe Haldeman. Pacing is fast and this book is a very quick read. Full of Haldeman's particular sense of humor and wit, the story is engrossing but there is not nearly as much depth to his characters or plot in this one as there is in his absolutely stellar "Forever War" which is one of the crowning jewels of SciFi. Initially I was a bit disappointed as I thought that I had purchased a different book of his "Camouflage", however that was my mistake. Once I had read the first pages the book however had me hooked and I read it in a single day. Only 4 stars as I would not rate it among my all time favorites or as a book I would read several times over. Nonetheless, definitely a good read even if somewhat formulaic and flat. Title of the review says it all.
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on 4 September 2015
I would suggest that, to be successful, a time travel novel should take the present day as its starting point (so that the author can compare and contrast the present with the future or the past as the case may be). This book is set in the year 2050 so it is about someone in the fairly distant future travelling into the even more distant future. I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if the main character was a contemporary figure I could identify with.
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on 9 November 2007
As a lover and devotee of time-travel yarns I looked forward to this latest Joe Haldeman book with some relish - let's face it, how could you not be drawn in by that sumptuous red cover of a hardback?

At the end of the book I found some difficulty in analysing it - it was as though I'd looked forward to a favourite meal, and though going through the process of devouring it, it was as if someone had switched the ingredients, and I'd eaten something else entirely. It wasn't so much an anti-climax, more like I was standing by the bonfire holding a damp squib!

Matt Fuller can only travel forwards, but no matter how far he travels, and he travels further than most that I can recall, the characters and beings that he meets are instantly forgettable, and there is a total absence of fear and foreboding in these journeys; the story is like a cigarette that's so mild that you've as good as packed up the habit anyway.

Oh dear! - this tale has put me off time-travel stories for at least a month, and that's saying something.
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on 28 April 2009
Sure, this is an almost naive time traveller story. But it is a very delightful book. It is not full of complex time paradoxes, it is (almost) simply a tale of people travelling in time. I found this book very entertaining, and a good companion on my own travel half way around the globe (fortunately, since the book is such an easy read, that journey took less than a day).
For me, this is a book I will remember for a long time. Only one other time traveller book of those I've read rates higher than this, and that is "The End of Eternity" (which of course is a book of a totally different calliber).
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on 18 December 2009
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.
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on 5 April 2013
A couple of months ago i start working my way though the SF Masterworks collection, and hence looking at Joe Haldemen.

The Accidental Time Machine was a lovely book with so great concepts. It took me along for the ride, and while it is a linier story, is it still a good story. A very easy read asking some interesting questions.

I wish maybe as the time travelling takes place there was a little more time to explore the various destinations ... but it keeps the writing crisp and well paced.

I will be reading more of Joe's books
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on 23 June 2011
Having read only The Forever War series by Haldeman previously I was interested reading another one of his books
Oh dear, what a let down.
The hero having accidentally built a time machine travels forward in incremental jumps, each one much longer that the last, and he can't go back.
On the journey he meets many people and eventually ends up taking one of them with him, but each new character is just so ...blah.. I couldn't get interested in any of them.
There is no sense of foreboding or danger , even when being attacked by dinosaurs.
Mr Haldeman explores a future where Jesus has returned to the Earth and the society is a complete theocracy. MIT has become the Mass. Institute of Theosophy.
Some interesting points were raised about the nature of people living in a world with limited technology and only faith to guide them. But even this section was a bit of a non event, it was a little like the Spanish Inquisition, on a good day, when they were feeling particularly benevolent .
The ending is just weird then boring, friendly aliens? send Matt and his companion back to his starting point, but to 1898. Where he takes a job as a janitor but due to his knowledge of physics he eventually becomes a professor.
By the time I finished I was eagerly looking forward to reading something else, which is a very bad sign
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