The Main Line SF Book Discussion Group (is that the official name Denise?) which meets the third Tuesday of each Month at 7:15pm at Mainpoint Books, is doing the Vandermeer’s Time Traveler’s Almanac at our next meetup March 17th.
I’m pleased with this collection: I’m a big fan of time travel & try to read everything on the subject that doesn’t involve a strong yet sensitive woman going back in time to the Scotland of the clans & claymores to help a rough yet sensitive Scottish chieftain find true yet sensitive love.
The Vendermeers have done a good job of getting a wide range of good stuff. There are some clunkers (avoid getting yourself trapped into Loob’s time loop) but overall average good & some standouts, including several I had not seen before.
The MLSFBDG decided we’d pick a few of the 80 odd stories to focus on.
Herewith my own favorites. I used a really simple test: I had already read thru the volume; these are the ones I particularly found myself wanting to read again.
- Needle in a Timestack — love & time travel, spreadsheet time where you can feel the changes when you personal time line is recalculated
- The Gernsback Continuum — the glorious futures of the lamented past, and a great addition to my collection of Imaginary Books: The Airstream Futuropolis: The Tomorrow That Never Was
- Triceratops Summer — cabbage stealing triceratopses & a meditation on impermanence
- A Sound of Thunder — the classic butterfly effect story
- Vintage Season — tourism more fun for the tourists than the tourees
- Fire Watch — what can’t be changed can be remembered, is it enough?
- Under Siege — George R. R. Martin shows his usual delicate concern for his character’s well-being
- Traveler’s Rest — “No one knew what really happened to Time as one came close to the Frontier…”
- At Dorado — her past is his future
- Red Letter Day — curiously appropriate title for an almanac, interesting balancing act between free will & the desire to know how it will come out
And some more, likely to be good for discussion:
- Ripples in the Dirac Sea — reminiscent of the Stevenson’s the Bottle Imp
- Himself in Anachron — time & self-sacrifice
- Time Travel in Theory and Practice — good review of the basics
- The Final Days — Iron Man thinks the time travelers are watching him because he is about to do so well
- On the Watchtower at Plataea — the time travelers are there to view the Peloponnesian War but get caught up in a war of their own
- The Gulf of Years — love & bombs
- Enoch Soames — time travel deal with the devil
- Palindromic — opposite arrows of time collide
- Delhi — time ghosts in Delhi, intriguing
- Terminos — bottled time (see Tourmaline’s Time Checks, Momo) with an interesting narrative method
- The Waitabits — classic Analog story-with-a-point: slowly, slowly, they get conquered that move fast
- Music for Time Travelers — non-fiction
- As Time Goes By — Tanith Lee channels her inner Moorcock, with a bit of Robert Service: “The nature of time, What do we really know about it? Two thousand streams, and us playing about in them like salmon.”
- Against the Lafayette Escadrille — carpe diem — a frequent theme of this collection: Fokkers, crinolines, & Confederate spy balloons.
- Palimpsest — Stross does the reductio ad absurdum of Heinlein’s All You Zombies (recently made into a not-bad movie), Gerrold’s The Man Who Folded Himself, Asimov’s The End of Eternity. If you like your absurdum’s reductio’d, this is the tale.
Most of the rest were worth reading as well: the only real clunkers — personal opinion obviously — were Loob & Forty, Counting Down with its companion Twenty-One Counting Up.
If you want to get on the Book Discussion’s list, email Denise who will be glad to add you to the list. And check out Mainpoint Books, which has provided & new & hospitable home for the group (even staying open late just for us!).