Time Machines

Adler. Jr., Bill. Time Machines: the Greatest Time Travel Stories Ever Written. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1998.

Reason read: December is Star Man month and that makes me think of time travel.

Time Machines is made up of twenty-two really diverse short science fiction stories all centered on time travel or time machines.

  • A Shape in Time by Anthony Boucher – Agent L-3H is hired to prevent marriages until she fails to seduce her man. This story has one of my favorite quotes, “Temporal Agent L-3H is always delectable in any shape; that’s why the bureau employs her on marriage-prevention assignments” (p 1).
  • Who’s Cribbin’ by Jack Lewis – someone from the past is stealing a young sci-fi writer’s work. Who is the plagiarist?
  • The Business, As Usual by Mack Reynolds – a 20th century souvenir hunter visits the 30th century.
  • The Third Level by Jack Finney – Somewhere in the bowels of Grand Central Station there is another level which will take you to 1894 New York.
  • A Touch of Petulance by Ray Bradbury – what happens when you meet your future self and he tells you you will murder your wife.
  • The History of Temporal Express by Wayne Freeze – what if you could go back in time to meet a deadline you previously missed?
  • Star, Bright by Mark Clifton – a widower’s child, abnormally bright, learns how to transport herself through time but her father isn’t as smart. Interestingly enough, someone drew a Mobius slip in the book possibly to illustrate the phenomenon of a one-sided plane.
  • The Last Two Days of Larry Joseph’s Life – In This Time, Anyway by Bill Adler, Jr. – Two roommates watch as their third roommate quietly disappears.
  • Three Sundays in a Week by Edgar Allan Poe – Two lovers get around the stipulation they can only marry when there are three Sundays in the same week.
  • Bad Timing by Molly Brown – an archivist in the 24th century falls in love with a woman from the 20th century but he’s a bumbling idiot when it comes to time travel. As an aside, this story reminded me of the movie, “Lake House.”
  • Night by John W. Campbell – a pilot testing out an anti-gravity coil has an accident and he needs the help of aliens to get home.
  • Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt – a crazy story about a man who has two deaths.
  • Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation by Larry Niven – what if time travel doesn’t work?
  • What Goes Around by Derryl Murphy – a ghost from the future comes to help a washed up actor.
  • You See, But You Do Not Observe by Robert Sawyer – Sherlock Holmes visits the future to find alien life.
  • Ripples in the Dirac Sea by Geoffrey A. Landis – a man tries to flee his own destiny by using a time machine but keeps returning to the same moment when he is to die.
  • The Odyssey of Flight 33 by Rod Serling – an airplane en route to New York curiously picks up speed and somehow lands 200 million years ahead of schedule.
  • Fire Watch by Connie Willis – not read (on Challenge list elsewhere)
  • What If by Isaac Asimov – not read
  • There and Then by Steven Utley – not read
  • Wireless by Rudyard Kipling – not read
  • The Last Article by Harry Turtledove – a sad tale about the nonviolence moment being unsuccessful against the Nazis of World War II.

Author Editor fact: Adler has written a few books of his own (including a short story in Time Machines.

Nancy said: Time Machines was in a list of other books about time travel the reader might enjoy.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the obvious chapter called “Time Travel” (p 220).

Sound of Thunder

Bradbury, Ray. “A Sound of Thunder.” R is For Rocket. New York: Doubleday, 1952.

This is an incredibly short story that packs a punch. It’s one of those simple as hell stories that makes you think for hours afterwards. Take Concept #1: At the heart of the story is a travel/safari company that advertizes, “Safaris to Any Year in the Past. You Name the Animal. We Take You There. You Kill It.” Let that digest. That alone is definitely something to ponder. Concept #2: The main character of the story, Eckles, wants to kill a dinosaur. Not just any dinosaur, but the king of all prehistoric lizards – the tyrannosaurus rex. Contemplate that. What would it take to kill such a beast? Concept #3: the safari can only kill an animal predestined to die or else the future will hang in the balance. Kill the wrong thing and you might upset the whole apple cart of life as you know it. And guess what, Eckles accidentally kills a butterfly, upsetting the path to the present. Concept #4: before leaving present day Eckles learns that a benevolent leader has just beaten out a tyrannical dictator for President. You can see where this is going.

Reason read: June is National Short Story Month

Author fact: Ray Bradbury’s site is here. I’m sure it’s not the only one dedicated to the writer.

Story trivia: “A Sound of Thunder” was first published in magazines like Playboy (1956).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Time Travel” (p 220).

Fahrenheit 451

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Read by Christopher Hurt. Blackstone Audio, Inc. 2005

Would someone shoot me if I said I had never read Fahrenheit 451 before? Is that something you shouldn’t admit to anyone, ever? It’s a classic. It’s probably Bradbury’s best known work. I have read I Sing the Body Electric and remember it vividly. But who doesn’t know Fahrenheit 451? I mean, come on! Who doesn’t know it? This girl. I didn’t know Fahrenheit. There. I said it. Let’s move on.

I think it goes without saying Fahrenheit 451 was, and still is, controversial. Banned even. The large misconception about Fahrenheit was that it was a commentary on censorship. Oddly enough, Bradbury’s true message is one shared by 10,000 Maniacs in their song “Candy, Everybody Wants.” Television is dulling the mind. Common courtesy and intelligent conversation is going out the window and vanishing like vapor. In Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury puts the root of all evil in the form of books; books that must be burned upon discovery.  This futuristic society employs eight legged mechanical hounds who can sniff out readers and firemen who used to be firefighters but are now fire starters. They are charged with burning the houses suspected of containing books. Guy Montag is one such fire starter. He relishes everything about starting a fire. Like an arsonist he is practically gleeful using the accelerant (kerosene), joyful to be spreading the flames. He loves his job until one day two people change his life. He first meets 17 year old Clarise. Her odd views on the world teach Montag to experience his own life differently. I’m reminded of Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman when she teaches Richard Gere to feel the grass under his feet. But, back to Fahrenheit 451 and Montag. Then he burns the house of an elderly woman. This rebellious elderly recluse refuses to leave her home and her books. As a result Montag burns her alive. They call it “suicide” but her death has a profound “rub” on Montag. The more Montag changes the less he understands the people around him. He begins to remember other book rebels he has met in his career. Mr. Faber is one such person. Faber agrees to help Montag leave the world of firemen and enter the dangerous unknown.

The opening scene to Fahrenheit 451 sets the stage for how bizarre Montag’s world really is. The detailed description of the fire’s destruction at the hands of a fireman is surreal and disorientating. But it is a necessary introduction to the dystopia in which Montag lives. Another tactic of Bradbury is to insert a great deal of repetition. Key words are repeated almost as in a chant. To hear in as an audio book is haunting.

Favorite line, “How strange, strange to want to die so much that you let a man walk around armed and then instead of shutting up and staying alive, you go on yelling at people and making fun of them until you get them mad and then…” (p 116).

Reason read: Bradbury was born in August.

Author Fact: Ray Bradbury died in June at the age of 91. His website is fascinating however I am most excited to learn that Bradbury loved cats! Miow.

Book Trivia: Fahrenheit 451 has influenced millions becoming a radio program, several plays and an adventure game. It should be a movie.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “100 good Reads, Decade By Decade: 1950s” (p 177).