Book Review: Time and Again by Jack Finney (four stars)

(cover of ebook I read, not paperback)

Book Review: Time and Again (Time #1) by Jack Finney (four stars)

“Has it occurred to you that we may all be nuts, and that you’ve wandered into an immense booby-hatch?” “That’s why I joined up.” “Good; obviously you’re the type we need.” 

Excellent story. May be fantasy, historical fiction, humor, social commentary, or romance, but not science fiction, though that’s what most people call it. Folks learn to time travel by positive thinking. Kind of like Dorothy without ruby slippers. Well developed, well written. Lots of neat trivia about 1880s New York City. “This kind of research becomes time-wasting foolishness, but fun,” Finney. Fun reading, too.

‘We don’t care very much about what happens to our poor, but the nineteenth century cared even less, it seems to me.’ 

Published in 1970. A time capsule of life that is as remote to many current readers as the Middle Ages. Even the differences between 1970 and now are striking. Nice illustrations. Logic and continuity gaps, but they hardly spoil the fun. Many unsupported opinions but that’s why people write science fiction, or whatever this is. New Yorkers will enjoy it most.

‘He developed and printed his own films; there were a couple dozen of them strung out on a line like a washing.’

Quibbles. Photography in 1882 was expensive, awkward, and stinky. Unlikely someone would do it in their boarding house room. Travelers seem locked in place and time, except when they’re not. Almost like wishing on a star. Several dateline anachronisms. The protagonist doesn’t understand what low profile means; he calls attention to himself at every turn.

‘It is becoming more and more certain, as science uses an almost brand-new ability to pull apart the deepest puzzles of the universe, that we need not and should not necessarily do something only because we’ve learned how.’ 

“In the [Somewhere in Time movie], [Christopher] Reeve’s character consults with a Dr. Finney …, a time travel theorist. This is a deliberate nod to author Jack Finney, whose novel Time and Again, published five years before Richard Matheson’s 1975 novel Bid Time Return, on which this film is based, features an almost identical theory on the mechanics of time travel.” Wikipedia

‘If in my own time I couldn’t stand by and allow the life of a girl I knew and liked to be destroyed if I could prevent it, I finally knew that I couldn’t do it here either.’ 


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