Book Club: The Accidental Time Machine

This month, The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman.

Here: Ian, Mark, Michele, Michelle, Tracy

Next Month: Tanya Huff’s Valor’s Choice

Let ‘er rip!

Mark: This is not his best work. This would have made a nice short story.

Tracy: For me this is a short story. I loved the book. I’m a physicist. I thought it was very accurate. I read it in about two days.

Catherine: Is this typical of hard SF?

Michele: Hard science is based on harder principals.

Ian: It’s all tell and no show.

Mark: In hard SF, character and theory are equally important.

Ian: Joe couldn’t make up his mind that it should be hard SF, a romance, or a thriller.

Tracy: An exercise and an adventure.

Michele: A what if. Will he keep pushing the button?

Mark: I didn’t find anything redeemable about the characters that made me care if he pushed the button.

(note: Michele and Tracy are in. Mark and Michelle are out. Ian thinks it was poorly executed.)

Tracy: They needed to close the loop. I didn’t think there was an adequate closure.

Michele: Sexuality is perfunctory.

Tracy: The religious theme is well explored.

Michele: SF opens doors but doesn’t really answer them.

Ian: The religious aspects were often covered in the 40s and 50s.

SF Must Reads: Wells, Doyle, Aldiss, Asimov, Heinlein, Gibson, Card

Ian: There’s too much running through the book, and he doesn’t subjugate any of them. Poke at religion, attempt at romance, hard SF that is a little unsatisfying. This is a story that happens to someone whether they like it or not. The character isn’t conflicted and doesn’t grow very much.

Tracy: I think he grows a little bit. He changes and gets his degree.

Catherine: I think the ending was cliche.

Michele: I think he writes stories like they are an exercise, and that’s why it reads like an exercise.

Tracy: I wanted his ancestors to bail him out.

Ian: He could have spent more money on the editing.

Tracy: Sometimes we as the readers start seeing the same things over and over.

Catherine: Sometimes also, writers change as they get older. Their tone changes.

Tracy: I thought of it more as adventure. I want something I can read that I don’t have to slog through, that doesn’t make my mind wander.

Ian: I was irritated. I kept thinking you could have done this a lot better. There were details that were missing. Some people were described in excrutiatingly detail, other not at all. He also avoided going there. The book also felt like you were in the shallows, that you couldn’t get past a certain level.

Catherine: I wanted more depth and exploration too.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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