Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Book Reviews


Timequake
Kurt Vonnegut
© 1997

Summary

On February 13th, 2001 the ever expanding universe for reasons known only to itself gets tired of expanding and decides to contract for a while. Instead of contracting all the way back to the Big Bang, the universe shrinks back as far as February 17th, 1991 where it decides to continue to expand. As the former decade replays itself everyone is forced to relive the time exactly as they did the first time through. Free will is not an option. When the rerun ends, and free will kicks in chaos reigns supreme.

Review

First a word about Vonnegutís writing style. If you prefer a straight forward linear novel, you may want to look elsewhere. If on the other hand you can appreciate a meandering tale of fact and fiction woven together to form a coherent commentary on life and the nature of time, then TIMEQUAKE is the book for you.

Vonnegut narrates the novel, weaving commentary regarding his first aborted draft of TIMEQUAKE, biographical nuggets of his life, plots of his alter ego, Kilgore Troutís short stories, and the actual impact the time quake has on a number of characters in the novel into a marvel of a story.

Vonnegut, like authors Mark Twain and H.G. Wells before him, uses time travel not merely as a plot device to accomplish a simplistic goal, such as transporting a character to an exoctic locale, but rather as means of crtiquing what they see around them in society. Vonnegut uses the concept of time travel, and specifically the timequake, to force us to slow down and examine the decisions we make on a daily basis and how they affect our lives. Are we making the most of our lives? Does it all really matter? Do we appreciate the little thing in life enough? Why are we so intent on destroying ourselves?

Despite Vonnegutís depressing opinion that we are a planet intent on committing suicide, I found the whole of his novel rather life-affirming. By setting up a premise whereby characters are forced to relive their lives over, we the reader are shown that the only true form of time travel available to us, is the one we are experiencing right now. How precious is it to live this moment ONCE knowning it can never be recaptured. Or how through our actions we can capture a moment of time ( a photo, a letter, a memory, etc) that in later life will be a Ďblast from the pastí. A form of time travel actually available to us.

A thought provokng read that is interesting from beginning to end right up there with Vonnegut's own Slaughterhouse Five.

Review Posted: 1999-02-07
Review Modified: 2002-04-28


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