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The Accidental Time Machine

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  8,432 ratings  ·  812 reviews
Joe Haldeman "has quietly become one of the most important science fiction writers of our time" (Rocky Mountain News). Now he delivers a provocative novel of a man who stumbles upon the discovery of a lifetime-or many lifetimes.

Grad-school dropout Matt Fuller is toiling as a lowly research assistant at MIT when, while measuring subtle quantum forces that relate to time c
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published August 7th 2007 by Ace
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  8,432 ratings  ·  812 reviews

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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
**Review may contain some minor spoilers**

The Accidental Time Machine came at a right time in my life. No, I am not having any “pre” mid-life crisis (not yet, at least); it’s just that that for the past dozen or so days, I was experiencing some serious reading withdrawal. I would pick up a book thinking that finally I have found the right one, read a couple of chapters, and then with a big sigh, put it back on the shelf. I couldn’t continue even if I found a book interesting. This happened at le
Jun 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Accidental Time Machine is the kind of old-fashioned science fiction I loved growing up. It's got a brevity and tone that's very much like Bradbury or Asimov. I've always been a sucker for time travel stories and this one didn't disappoint. There was a lot of detail left out that other author probably would have included, but that was fine with me. In current books, authors have a tendency to spell everything out for the reader. Haldeman doesn't do that. As a result, the reader has to use hi ...more
I flew through this book. It gets going on page one and doesn't stop for a moment. It's non-stop fun, it's unexpected, and it's just fantastic story telling.

The name tells you everything you need to know about the story, but not how enjoyable it is! Life is fleeting. Also it isn't. There are a number of iterations of humanity all of which seem as likely as the last. Makes you wonder where we'll be as a society in however many years time...

Big thumbs up. Lots of enjoyment in this one.
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, time-travel
I have fairly specific requirements for time travel stories. However they treat time travel it has to make sense to me. This book did which is the main reason it got 5 stars. The plot is actually fairly simplistic and there are really only 2-3 characters none of whom are very deep or rich, but it was quite entertaining. The story follows Matt into the distance future, one leap at a time in a way that reminded me quite a bit of Marooned in Realtime (another favorite).
A couple of years ago, I pounded the Goodreads pavement pretty hard searching for pretty much any time-travel book I could find to add to my ever-growing to-read list (a list which has, to my horror, since surpassed 1,500 books–for every book I periodically cull, ten more pop up in its place). The Accidental Time Machine was one of the books I found. I’d heard of Joe Haldeman because his Forever War series is a classic of the military sci-fi genre, although I have yet to read it. I wish I had st ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short SF novel about, as name suggests, time travel. I read is as a part of monthly reading for July 2020 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group.

The story starts with a research assistant after a day work having a hallucination: an equipment item in the lab disappears to appear once again. Other would assume that their tiring mind plays with them, but not Matt Fuller. He experiments and soon finds out that the item – a calibrator (All the calibrator was supposed to do was supply on
**A spoiler or two follow, but nothing that will wreck The Accidental Time Machine. At least I don't think they will.**

The Accidental Time Machine is a pretty disappointing piece of Sci-Fi, but then my expectations were probably too high.

I've heard great things about Joe Haldeman over the years, particularly about his Hugo Award Winning book The Forever War, so I was expecting The Accidental Time Machine to be entertaining and hoping it would be compelling.

It was neither.

Before I go on, thoug
Shabbeer Hassan
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, science-fiction
An old-timey, sci-fi story with an interesting plot and lots of philosophical musings on the nature of time travel/humanity.

An old but oft-quoted line from Clarke is the best way to summarise the philosophical bits here: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

My Rating - 4.5/5
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I haven't read much of Haldeman's work. I have read "The Forever War" and I don't recall much of it. Just remember that I liked it enough, but did not love it. This one was very unexpected. It was a whole lot of fun. Good time travel story written with a golden age approach. A little is Heinlein, Silverberg and definitely a Well influence here - protagonist even has a Wena like character tagging along with him. There some sloppy bits and a little questionable motivation issues, but over all it w ...more
Forgot I read this when I was sick last week.

Very reminiscent of Heinlein's predictions of humanity in the future, with a few darker twists. During creation of a calibration instrument for his laboratory, grad-school protagonist Matt Fuller accidentally creates a machine that jumps into the future in ever-increasing steps, and must continue forward in the effort to discover a way back. A fun romp through many sci-fi tropes.
Apr 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2009-06 SciFi Selection
This was the SciFi selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club for the month of June 2009. Visit this link to see all of the discussions, group member reviews, etc.

This is old school science fiction. Very clever, nicely thought-out hard-scifi plausibility, and very light on character development.

The plot is a classic voyage-and-return in which our likable but flawed protagonist is more-or-less forced far from home, undergoes struggles, and — perhaps — finds his way home. Along the wa
Apr 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ryan by: library display
Oh the fun you can have with time travel. I would say this was a slightly above average sci-fi exploration of the space-time continuum, although I thought it borrowed a little too heavily from H.G. Wells' classic. The periodic regression of civilization and the eventual extinction of life on Earth just didn't strike me as that creative. I would have also like to see more on the inherent paradoxes of time travel instead of the clumsy interpersonal relationships he spends so much time on. I don't ...more
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This was light reading; I have finished it in one day. I'm still not all clear on the detail how the protagonist bails himself out of prison, and it's bothering me. So I guess the conclusion isn't all that neat as in The Door Into Summer where the story goes full circle. Still there was a happy ending for the protagonist apparently. I kind of wish I'd finished reading Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid since this book mentions Godel and strange loops, which I only have a basic understa ...more
Apr 12, 2009 rated it liked it
This is the first book I've read by this author and I found it an easy, interesting read.
I've got the dreaded bronchitis yet again, so I was grateful to have a book I didn't have to think too hard about. What I liked best about this is that while the scientific theory could be a possibility to time travel, the author didn't go all physics teacher on me. Wrote what it was but I didn't have to get mind-bendy to comprehend it. The story was more about the person(s) involved and the journey, not so
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved the first 80% of this book. So what an amazing letdown the end is. A Deus Ex Machina solution that's never explained, mysteries presented in the book that are never addressed, and characters that seem awfully blase about rather significant events. And so many other issues, but I don't want to get into spoiler territory. I have read books with weak endings, but this almost feels like Haldeman got bored with writing the book and just decided to wrap it all up quickly. I can't think of anot ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
I love Joe Haldeman. His books are very readable, interesting, and move forward at a reasonable speed. The ideas are interesting and thought-provoking, his characters realistic, fallible, but likable anyway. This book is no exception. I liked the main character, understood his motivations, and the plot moved along at a good clip. I read the book at one sitting. The plot was interesting: would you use a time machine if you could only go forward, even to save your hide? The future was not what I e ...more
Beth A.
May 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Beth A. by: SciFi Fantasy Book Club
Shelves: sci-fi
I got caught in this story immediately, it had an interesting premise, and it flowed quickly. It was entertaining enough to keep me up late even though I was very tired and had a long drive the next day. The characters were believable even if some of their circumstances required a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. I liked the ending, too.

Note: This book contains some themes that reflect negatively on religion, also occasional foul language, drug use, and not-too-explicit mention of por
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first Sci-Fi story I've enjoyed in years. It was a tad too long on the spiritual in my opinion, nevertheless 9 of 10 stars.
Oct 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This just borrowed too much from previous writings for me. It's simular to H.G. Wells The Time Machine and the plot is also akin to the author's best work The Forever War. Beware, spoilers ahead....there are a few nice twists here. The user can go only forward, in increasing amounts of years and he doesn't return to where he started out from. At first, this works pretty well. He gets into awkward situations and manages to get out of them by activating the time machine and making another jump. Bu ...more
Bryan Alkire
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amusing if a bit cliched. Really, it’s hard to find a time travel novel which isn’t cliched in some way. This novel is no exception, with cliched thoughts on time travel, AO, religion and the future in general. But, the novel moves along nicely, no wasted words or subplots here. The writing is nice, it’s readable and amusing. The characters are likeable and real enough and each makes sense in the context of the times. This book actually exceeded my expectations based on GR rating…

So, I give thi
Dec 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jim by: Jackie G.
Shelves: scifi, 1paper, 2fiction
It was an interesting time travel book, as engaging as any of his books are; well written & quite readable. The main character was likable & often fun. The end was unexpected, but not as filling as I hoped it would be. Haldeman lays out some interesting scenarios about our possible future(s) along the way. I found them all very well done. ...more
Oct 20, 2016 rated it liked it
An unconvincing character time travels up the line and encounters ignorant evangelicals, a cute and curious virgin, sexy swingin' yard-salers, talking bears, Dinosaur Land, and Jesus' motley crue. A somewhat entertaining 260 page story that reads like a crazy comic strip; however, the first Joe Haldeman book I cannot truly recommend.
Daniel Gonçalves
Apr 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I have been enjoying Joe Haldeman's light-hearted approach to the blank page. Despite the seriousness of some of the situations, he comes up with ways to alleviate tensions with comedic undertones that achieve their ultimate purpose: to remind ourselves of the joviality of life. With this book, the author accomplishes that goal, carving out a funny, thought-provoking time-travel story.

Stories like it are bound for clichés. Joe Haldeman is well aware of this fact, and instead of masking the prob
Aug 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-and-sf
An entertaining and light romp through future time via a wonky (it only goes forward and sideways) and accidentally discovered time machine. The main character is a bit flat and I can't say the futures provided by Haldeman were terribly exciting. The novel was entertaining but not great. I found the beginning more interesting than the end.
Jen Jen
Jun 10, 2020 rated it did not like it

One star for a few chuckles in the first 1/3. Then it just gets dumber and veers sharply away from making any sort of point whatsoever. And then it just bumbles around like it's going to make some kind of statement... and doesn't. It doesn't make any sense at all.

God, this book is dumb.
Stephen Branstetter
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A different way to look at how a time machine might work. I really enjoyed this book.
B.C. Young
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman tells the story of Matt Fuller. As a lab assistant at MIT, he accidentally discovers a time machine – thus the name of the book. The discovery takes him on a journey that spans thousands upon thousands of years, where he comes in contact with different civilizations in the future. But his one goal is to finally go home, or I should say, to his time period.

The Good: If you are like me, and you like time travel stories, then you should enjoy this book ve
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
When Joe Halderman is mediocre, he is simply that. I never understood the praise for “The Forever War” and its sequels, except someone from that era was bound to write the anti-matter version of Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers.”

I’m practically alone in being a ginormous fan of Joe Halderman’s “Mindbridge,” a five-star and top 12 novel for me. It had some of the military aspects of “Forever War,” with added physics, and plainly was written as a sort of “Iowa Writer’s Conference” experiment (about a
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Brother of Jack C. Haldeman II

Haldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections. The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975. Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works "Graves," "Tricentennial" and "The Hemingway Hoax." Starbound is scheduled for a January release. SFWA pres

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