Thursday, September 22, 2011

Past Time

My Maricopa county library card expired while I was in the middle of my move and I wasn't able to renew it because I didn't have any proof of my current address.  Now that I'm more or less settled I need to take a utility bill with me to the nearest branch and get a new card, but for the time being I have been re-reading old favorites from my personal library.  The latest is Time and Again by Jack Finney.

I've always been fascinated by the possibilities of time travel and alternate universes, and Finney is possibly my favorite author to deal with these issues.  Time and Again was written in 1970 but is still absolutely current because, unlike many time travel novels, the action almost all takes place in the past - in 1882, to be exact.  The protagonist, Simon Morley, is an illustrator who feels out of place in his own life.   Despite a flourishing career and a beautiful girlfriend, he yearns for a slower, gentler era - and then he meets a scientist whose unique theories allow him to sideslip the timestream into the past, where he finds the real girl (and life) of his dreams.

One of the unusual features of Time and Again is that Finney has included actual Victorian-era photos and etchings of (supposedly) the people Simon meets and the places he visits during his trip to late-nineteenth-century New York City.  Ice skaters in Central Park, the Dakota apartment building, Trinity Church, the future site of the Empire State building - here is how they looked in 1882.  The real historical events in the book, such as how funds were raised for the erection of the Statue of Liberty, have also been meticulously researched.  My guess is that Finney would have taken a trip to 1882 in a heartbeat had anyone offered it to him.

Read this book and you'll want to go there, too.

"Go back to a wonderful world and have a wonderful time doing it!" ~New York Times review of Time and Again

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