The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman


Science Fiction

The Accidental Time Machine The Accidental Time MachineJoe Haldeman; Ace Hardcover 2007WorldCat

Matt Fuller is a doctorate student working for Professor Marsh at MIT as a lab assistant. He constructs a box for the professor and accidentally presses the Reset button. The machine disappears, then reappears. When he presses it again, the machine disappears, then reappears after a slightly longer period. The professor doesn’t believe him, so he takes the machine home with him. After the third try he is sure he has a time machine.

He has excellent mathematical and problem solving skills. He soon realizes the machine disappears twelve times longer than on the previous “trip”. The machine appears to be traveling into the future. Then he figures a way to send things, inanimate and animate, with it. This could be his Nobel prize. Soon he attaches himself in a metal construct to the machine and travels with it. But each jump takes a longer period of time and jumps more distance.

But the future isn’t what he expects. Once he lands in jail for appearing in the middle of rush hour traffic. A future version of himself seems to bail him out. On another reappearance, Professor Marsh has claimed the time machine and won the Nobel Prize while waiting for Matt to return. His ex-girlfriend is about 15 years older and attracted to him – he hasn’t aged at all. He has an honorary professorship at MIT where he can teach “old” physics. He decides to escape into the future again – this time into a religious state run society. Does the future ever improve?

The Accidental Time Machine is a fun tongue-in-cheek novel based on sound science (although Haldeman readily admits that some of the science was proven while he was writing this book and he actually thought some was fiction that turns out not to be). Matt is the loveable hero who’s always a step behind socially while ten steps ahead intellectually. His final stop and life is definitely unexpected and a fitting end.

Haldeman uses this book to examine the different ways our society can go in the future. Matt starts his journey around 2050 and travels tens of thousands of years into the future before he has finished. He sees many different lifestyles before he is done. Haldeman makes them believable and keeps the story flowing well. It’s an easy read book that has its moments to make the reader think.

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