The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

The quarantine cleanup/reorganization of my bookshelves means that I unearthed this prepub from a few years ago that I never got around to reading.  Given my reading doldrums I’m pleased to report that my interest was finally captured and sustained by an adult novel.
I love time travel and this was a very interesting story because the author flouts an awful lot of time travel conventions. I went back and forth between thinking “well time travel is not real so of course she is free to play with it and that’s what makes this an interesting story” and “that would never happen because that’s not the way time travel works.”  For example, in this story your future (“Silver”) and younger (“green”) selves can visit you and hang out with you. There might be several of you visiting you on an important occasions, like a birth, death, or wedding.
One of the things I found my fascinating was that in the farthest future (300 years) society and the legal system have returned to Fate being a determiner of guilt and judicial verdicts are made based on Salem Witch Trial era tests. It was a grim picture of society devolving, while being technologically incredibly advanced.
So that’s the time travel/future aspects of it. As for the story, it focuses on the four women who invented it in the 1960s and what happens to them. One rises to become the powerful head of the corporation that controls all time travel and frankly, she is cruel and not nice.  Two more work within the corporation, but one famously had a mental breakdown and was ousted from the group. Although those dynamics drive the story (and add in a granddaughter and another young woman who discovers a dead body), I think I would have preferred them to be successful scientists who remained pals all the rest of their lives.  But then we wouldn’t have this interesting story and the mystery. The mystery is hard to unravel, in part because of some kooky time travel stuff.

Overall, I liked it and thought it was an interesting story with a new look at time travel.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Wow. I loved this. Extremely reminiscent of both Replay and Time and Time Again (by Ben Elton)  [Maybe that’s not a surprise. I mean, if you’re playing with time travel your options are once limitless, but also realistically either: people from different years falling in love; people returning to the past to observe for history or science; people returning to the past and changing the future whether intentional or not; people somehow stuck in time loops or time travel; and governments or scientists wreaking havoc from time travel.]

In this case you’re not quite sure what’s happening or which things to believe. The point of view shifts between Barry, a detective, and Helena, a brilliant scientist. Barry is divorced and his only child was killed as a teenager. Helena is hoping that her research into memories will somehow help her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. There are reports of people suffering from “False Memory Syndrome”-people seem to remember another life so vividly it often drives them mad. Barry follows some leads and becomes intimately involved in what is really happening.

One of the things I liked about this book is that it’s split into sections and basically every time I was in a new phase of the book I’d think “oh, ok, that’s what this story is about now for the rest of the book.” but really it was an ever changing and long last story.

I found this hard to put down. I liked it so much I’m going to check out his other book.

Recommended to anyone who likes alternate histories or time travel.

Time Museum, vol. 2 by Matthew Loux

I’ve been eagerly waiting for this sequel for about a year now and I have to admit….I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first one and it ended up feeling like a bit of a letdown. It felt as if time had passed since establishing everything in the first book and like we were just expected to know what the deal was now. There was no recapping, which was difficult reading these in real time publication. And somehow the adventures just felt convoluted? scattered? I don’t know, it just didn’t capture me in the same way the first book did.

The Portal (Tangled in Time) by Kathryn Lasky

I was pretty bummed to get to the end of this and realize that it’s but the first in a series and everything was not resolved.  There are a lot of threads in this story, sometimes successfully woven together, other times less so. Rose is recently orphaned and lives with her grandmother, who she doesn’t really know. Girls at her school have taken bullying to extreme levels and everything stinks. An aspect of Rose that I liked was her interest in fashion. Her grandmother seems to have some dementia but is mostly lucid when they work together in her elaborate greenhouse. And that’s where the time slippage happens, sending rose back to the 1500s where she starts work for Princess Elizabeth. I loved Rose’s 21st century perspective on the behaviors and customs of the 16th century (especially her outrage over dwarfs as entertainment and clothing laws.)

There’s a mysterious locket, a mystery about her father, and of course the terrible history of Princesses Mary and Elizabeth and King Henry killing his wives.

Decent time travel fiction, but again I wish it wasn’t a series.

Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd

I first read this book in 4th or 5th grade. I wrote a book report which included a cover that was a drawing of Susan coming out of the elevator. I certainly loved drawing an old fashioned dress on her.
While The Secret Language holds a fond place in my heart as the first boarding school book I read, Time at the Top was the first time travel book I read. And you know how much I love time travel.
Rereading this book I can see why I loved it. It’s time travel perfect for kids-the way things work out, the scoundrel who might as well be out of a silent film twirling his villainous mustache, the use of a newspaper to see if they affect the future/present day, and I loved the setup of the author of the book being Susan’s neighbor and giving us a little epilogue.

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

Wonderful! I love a good time travel book and this one had me unable to put it down on a rainy Saturday and just keeping on until the end. And then I kept thinking about it afterwards-always a good sign that a book has gotten into my head.

This one had me often making comparisons to The Dream Daughter, since it involved a parent and child and makes the reader wonder just how the author will be able to figure out a satisfying ending.

Kin is a time travel corruption bureau field agent from the future who ends up stranded in 1990s San Francisco. As his brain forces out memories of his old life Kin makes a new one for himself. He has a job in IT, he gets married, he has a daughter. Life is pretty good except for the blinding headaches and dizzy spells he sometimes gets.  And then a man shows up who makes him brain start unlocking memories and the past (future) is told to him. Kin is forced back into the future, away from his family. He is desperate to connect with his daughter, but also he needs to reconnect to his past life, which includes people who care about him who he doesn’t remember.

I loved the future details, the set up of the story, the emotional core, and all the little details that made things from the future and past click. I thought this was great.

Time and Again by Jack Finney

I read this book many years ago and it was one of the ones I wanted to reread this year. In particular, two scenes from this book had stayed with me, and I thought of them often when I thought of time travel (as one does.) The one scene was in the beginning when Si is on a catwalk in a warehouse looking down on a hot summer day in a recreated small town from another time period and first learning of the time travel project.  Of all the time travel books I’ve read I always thought this was the most bizarre method created-that one would be so immersed in a time they would just slip into it being real not recreated (having separated themselves from things of this time.)
I found this a little slow and that may have been because I just was eager to get to the time travel itself. In fact, once I got to that scene I remembered I thought I might just stop there, having scratched my itch of wanting to read that scene again. But, I found that I was hooked on the story and wanted to see it though. I’d forgotten that there were sketches and historical photographs included in the story. And, it turns out, I’d forgotten the major plot event! So all in all, I really enjoyed this story all over again though I did find the writing a little odd. I’m curious if this style writing would be published today (first published in 1970.)
There is a sequel to this, which I don’t recall if I read, but perhaps I will.

Once Was a Time by Leila Sales

This was absolutely wonderful! First of all, it’s time travel (that came out 2 years ago and I just found out about it now) and it was so good and I happened to have moments in the day and was able to read it in one day. (It’s not too long.)
It starts in 1940 and I immediately liked the main character, Lottie. She’s 10 and loves to read and play make believe games with her best friend, Kitty. She’s the best. I say that because a. she’s like me b. I would have been friends with her and c. she is keenly interested in time travel.  The reason for that is because her father is a scientist who fully believes in it and is researching it. He’s signed the Official Secrets Act so he can’t actually disclose his findings or work. Then a surprising incident occurs and Lottie jumps through a portal not knowing where she will end up but certain-since her father has always said so-that she will never be able to come back. She ends up in current day Wisconsin. Most of the time travel I read involves people traveling to the past. I enjyed this take on someone from the past coming to our time. Here’s what I loved about this book: she behaves as I would if I were a time traveler and acknowledges that because she and Kitty have talked so much about it and accept its existence she isn’t going to waste time in disbelief but instead figure out where she is and what to do. The book takes some interesting turns because now she is stranded in time and needs to just continue on with her life. She’s a child so she ends up with a very nice foster family. But always, always, she is wondering if she can connect with Kitty and find her way back to her.
I loved how this ended up working out even though, as I keep dwelling on it, the crux of the time travel matter somewhat doesn’t make sense to me(even though it simultaneously makes perfect sense.) I also liked the middle grade friendship storyline. And I especially loved the role books played in Lottie’s life and libraries. I’m thinking Ms. Sales must know some librarians because she was spot on with her description of us!!

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

An intriguing time travel like premise + the author of A Boy Called Christmas? Sign me up!

Our character (Tom? that’s his name for now, but he changes it often) is literally hundreds of years old. He has a rare condition that makes him age so slowly that by the time he is 400 years old he only looks about 40. Turns out he’s not the only one, and these people have joined together into a sort of secret society to protect themselves from being found out. Although this is the main plot point of the story, it is the part I liked the least. Why did Hendrich (the mastermind) have to be so evil/threatening? Why was he so sure they’d be found out? (Tom, and others, would move and take new identities so that people didn’t catch on to the fact that they looked exactly the same.) And so manipulative to the people he’s found? A lot of that made no sense to me. However, I loved everything else about the book.
Tom has rubbed elbows with Shakespeare and Captain Cook, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. He’s lived through not just WWII and WWI, but also the American Revolution and the Elizabethan age. I loved his stories of those times and the back and forth between the present and those time periods. Tom has truly been a witness to history and what I thought was unique was that he was a witness to such a looooooong time of history that he saw the changes in humanity as a whole, and the ebb and flow of civilization.
This was great!

*although this isn’t really time travel, it has the elements of time travel that I enjoy in it, and it is a time manipulation novel, so I’m grouping it with the others.

The Doomsday Book By Connie Willis

doomsdayThis was a re-read for me,and one that was a long time coming. I probably first read this back in college and have been fondly remembering and referring to it ever since! I love time travel stories, and especially enjoy Willis’s version of time travel-set in Oxford, it’s for academics and historians.As usual with Willis the history in this story is impeccably researched and lavishly detailed. It’s easy to imagine her sitting in the Bodleian Library poring over prime sources and ancient original documents, to make sure that everything-village names, distances between villages, geography, speech patterns, etc.-are authentic and accurate.
Kivrin is an eager historian at the University ready to take her first trip to the Middle Ages, a trip her informal mentor thinks is ill-advised and dangerous. She’s confident that since her destination is before the plague is known to have arrived she’ll be fine. Once she goes through, though, things go wrong in both times and you find yourself quite caught up in the mysteries and race against time. The parallel plague stories are heartbreakingly similar, something I either didn’t remember or possibly didn’t even notice the first time I read this?
I was pleased to find that it had been so long since I read this that I didn’t remember the ending! There were bits and pieces that did come back to me as I read though. (One detail my mom and I never forgot is that they wanted to cauterize Kivrin’s nostrils, or inside I guess, thinking the odor of the Middle Ages would be too intense for a modern person.)This was every bit as wonderful as I remembered and I shall continue to recommend it and think well of it for another twenty years!