Book #16: The Accidental Time Machine

It all begins with a mistake, of course. We never know why the machine works, only that it does. It's the "almost useless" time machine, as accidental creator and MIT graduate Matt Fuller calls it. A small calibrator that's supposed to measure gravitrons but, upon each press of the Reset button, instead travels forward in time, roughly 12 times further each time. So the first time he presses the button it travels 1 second. Then, about 12 seconds. Further and further, and only forward. Determined to prove its existence and get his hands on a Nobel prize Matt endeavors to film himself moving in time, borrowing his drug dealer's friend's car and having him film the event. Matt presses the button, moves approximately 45 days into the future, only to find himself arrested for the murder of the drug dealer, apparently so surprised at Matt's disappearance he falls down dead of a heart attack.

Folks, The Accidental Time Machine only gets crazier from here, as Matt uses his accidental time machine to jump further and further into the future in an effort to not only escape the problems he encounters along the way, but to find a civilization advanced enough to figure out how to make the machine travel back in time and get him home. Joe Haldeman writes a fast and funny adventure starring an "everyman" slacker that just wants to get home, but can't help but wonder at the many different version of the planet he comes to witness. Haldeman has a lot of fun postulating what would become of our society after hundreds and thousands of years, and things range from God-fearing, technology banning theocracies to mindless, suburban bliss where no one owns anything except what they can haggle for.

Along the way there's a fun romance with a Puritan from a couple hundred years in Matt's future, an sentient Los Angeles, and talking bears. Haldeman keeps it all loose and free, and manages to theorize about the possibility of time travel in a way that's clear, easy to understand, and doesn't take away from the narrative. If you're you're looking for a quick and fun time travel story, The Accidental Time Machine is a pretty inspiring choice.