Time and Again by Jack Finney

 

Science Fiction

Time and again Time and AgainJack Finney; Scribner Paperback Fiction 1995WorldCatSimon Morley is working as an artist for an ad agency in New York City. A friendly gentleman appears at his job one morning and invites him to lunch. Ruben Prien works for a nameless government agency looking for a specific type of man. Prien believes Morley has the proper qualifications to fit in with their project.

Although Prien doesn’t explain much, Morley’s interest is piqued. He knows he doesn’t want to stay at the ad agency. So after thinking about the offer a few days, he accepts it. But when he learns the nature of the project he is both excited and pessimistic. This agency has taken Einstein’s theory of time and is trying to make it real.

The scientist who developed the current line of experimenting believes that time tends to touch itself in different points (a la the “string theory” from Quantum Leap). Dr. Danzinger believes that if a person is in a location that hasn’t changed for decades or longer he or she can use hypnotism to believe he/she is in a previous time and actually travel there. But it takes a special type of personality that might be able to make this journey. Simon Morley was this type of person.

Jack Finney enjoyed playing with time travel stories. Time and Again is considered one of his best. And it’s worth that consideration. This is an excellent tale. It’s told in first person narrative by Morley. This gives the reader the sense of excitement and wonder that Morley experiences as he steps back to 1882. The descriptions of the adjustments in thinking as he becomes acclimated to the past time are realistic and enable belief.

Finney also did extensive research to get 1882 New York City come to life. Although he did a little twisting of history, most of the locations, styles, modes, appliances, lighting, etc., are true to what is known of the time. Again, that makes the story more believable especially when Morley compares the past to his present (around 1970 when this book was originally published). One bit of history I didn’t know was the the arm of the Statue of Liberty stood in Madison Square Garden for a few years before the Statue was built. The 1882 resident discussing it indicated that it was questionable whether the Statue would ever really get built out in the bay due to financing (now doesn’t that sound familiar?).

Time and Again is an entertaining and educational read. By the second half I couldn’t put it down and was glad I didn’t have to get up early today. I stayed up well past midnight finishing the book. I appreciated the small tongue in cheek twist at the end, too.

More books by Jack Finney

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