Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Cleansing the Palate: The Accidental Time Machine

I'm up finishing Joe Haldeman's novel The Accidental Time Machine. It makes a perfect palate cleanser after Wicked.

You might ask why-oh-why would I bother finishing Wicked after starting it last year and knowing pretty much instantly that I wasn't going to like it. I'd probably have to argue OCD or something in defense. Wicked almost had me convinced my reading speed was slowing. I did manage to Machine in three days--two of those very busy workdays.

This is a good book. I actually haven't read much science-fiction of the past 40 years, preferring "the Golden Age" between 1935-1955. (A prejudice perhaps picked up from my father.) It's nice to read a story that avoids a lot of the common pitfalls: there's no apparent agenda to the book; it touches on a lot of interesting and important human issues without wallowing in a quasi-philosophical/emotional mire; it has an interesting premise based around an easily grasped (reasonably plausible) scientific premise; and it uses that to build suspense from the opening pages.

Rather embarrassingly, I think the only other work of Haldeman's I can actually summon to mind is the '90s schlock-fest Robot Jox. Not a high point for the highly talented Stuard Gordon, either. I'm sure I haven't read his Forever War, but it's on my list to read now.

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