Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Short Story Reviews

Timegates (1997)
Dann, Jack and Dozois, Gardner (editors)
ISBN: 0441004288
Air Raid
John Varley

© 1977
A dying planet is forced to raid its past to save its future.

Through his short story Air Raid, John Varley shows the reader that as bad as we may think things have become there is always room for them to get worse. Time travel is used as a means to extract viable human specimens from impending airline crash. Varley's story was the basis for the 1989 film Millennium starring Kris Krisofferson and Cheryl Ladd.

Hole on the Corner
R. A. Laffetery

© 1967
A very strange story about... well I'm still not certain. Deja vu, temporal distortion, alternate worlds, and alternate selves.

Whatever the theme, R.A. Laffetery treats the reader to a humorous tale about a mad scientist Diogenes Pontifix and his discovery that a hundred or more versions of any given person occupy the same space and time. Diogenes' experiments to discover these layers has some amusing consequences for his neighbors. A tale of a fractured reality that reminded me of one of my favourite authors, Philip K. Dick. I'll definitely be checking out some of Lafferty's other works.

Charles Sheffield

© 1987
In this story of exploration and quest for an imaginary land we are treated to a number of unique characters. Each with their own motivations for finding Traplanda and the own notions of what will be waiting for them.

In Trapalanda, author Charles Sheffield spins an interesting story about the quest for a mythical land. To some Trapalanda holds the treasures of an ancient civilization, while one man believes it to be a gateway to another world. What I found fascinating about this story was Sheffield's ability to create such detailed complex characters within the confines of a short story. Another author I may have to check out in the future. (Pun intended!)

Damon Knight

© 1953
Reminiscent of H.G. Wells Time Machine this short story features a lone inventor who upon discovering time travel uses his device to explore the future instead of the past. Arachon builds on this theme mixing a bit of crime and mystery with science-ficton. The main players of this tale are the Catellere brothers Peter and Harold. Harold, the inventor and scientist, accidently creates a bubble of time while working in his lab. After experimenting briefly with the device, Harold makes the mistake of sharing his discovery with his brother. Peter, an obsessed collector, has a practical and greedy use for the machine that doesn't include his brother.

While the story is unique in that it proposes a number of laws governing time travel, overall I found the story very slow in its build up to the conclusion. I also didn't realize until after I had read the story and was preparing this review that there was two brothers. I had simply assumed that the inventor had turned greedy after discovering the power of his device. I'll let you be the judge whether the confusion is the result of an inattentive reader or whether the indistinguishable method in which Damon Knight, the author portrayed the two brothers is to blame.

Bridget McKenna

© 1991
Not to be confused with the similarly named short story in the Time Gates anthology called, The Hole in The Corner the Hole-in-the-wall is a hilarious story told from the perspective of Morton Grimes, an city Health Inspector. Set in the 1950's, Grimes is a petty bureaucrat who revels in lauding his power over Russian immigrant and restaurateur Ladislaw Tomacheski. Tomacheski simply wants to open "Tomacheski's Hole in The Wall" restaurant and fit in. Grimes on the other hand sees communist plots at every turn. Both Tomacheski and Grimes soon find out that the name of the restaurant is more appropriate than anyone could have suspected as a temporal distortion opens in the wall of the women's washroom, complicating the already difficult situation between Grimes and Tomacheski.

Author Bridget McKenna succeeds beautifully in capturing the 1950's white male stereotype in the form of Grimes who's bigotry and anti-communistic bents are second nature. A quick paced and enjoyable story one of the better tales in the Time Gates collection.

Time's Arrow
Jack McDevitt

© 1991
In this short story we are given a glimpse into some of the uncertainty and hazards associated with perfecting time travel. McHugh has invented a time machine in his living room. While not perfected Mac and his Civil War buff friend Gillie attempt to visit the American Civil War era in hopes of witnessing the Gettysburg Address or even Lincoln's assassination.

Perfecting a time machine can be a hazardous business as the pair soon realizes. Undeterred McHugh plunges on trying again and again to perfect the process. While insightful and humorous this story raises a number of interesting point regarding time travel. If time travel were possible what effect would time travelling tourists to the past have? It also raises the issue of how accurate time travel can be. In this story we learn that place and time can be elusive targets when travelling to the past.

Anniversary Project
Joe Haldeman

© 1974
This tale is set in very distant future centers on a race of earthinlings and their desire to celebrate the 1,000,000 Anniversary of the written word. Only problem is the current inhabitants of earth no longer read or speak. They have lost the joy of reading and want to experience as we experience it. Time casting into the distant past the future terrans successfully capture Bob and Sarah Graham a young couple about to be separated as by the Korean War. Brought \forward to the future, Bob and Sarah are treated well and in return read numerous books for their hosts before being returned to their own time.

While an interesting and entertaining premise onto itself, the real impact of the story comes towards the end when the couple are returned to Earth. A complication arises that causes the couple to relieve their lives in reverse to their point of departure. Without completely giving the story away, suffice it to say it raises the question, Is knowing the future worth the price you may have to pay? Better still, perhaps the real message here is enjoy the little things in life while you can.

The Secret Place
Richard McKenna

© 1966
The Secret Place examines the power of imagination and the possibility of alternate universes.

David Campbell, a geologist, recounts how during World War II he was involved with a scientific survey that looked for Uranium deposits in the desert of Oregon. At the end of an unsuccessful 2 year survey Campbell is chosen to remain behind as a token government worker in order to comply with bureaucratic government rules. Feeling betrayed, Campbell is determined to find the mysterious deposit. Campbell enlists the aid of Helen Price a local resident, whose brother's lifeless body was found several years earlier with a large chunk of uranium oxide clenched in his fist. Campbell believes that Helen knows where her brother found the uranium and that given time will entrust the secret to him.

What unfolds as David recalls the story, is a mystery, a fantasy, love story and science-fiction tale all tied up in one.

The Price of Oranges
Nancy Kress

© 1989
At some period in our lives we've all longed for a simpler time long gone. Perhaps we desire to return to our childhood when we felt safe playing in the streets. Or perhaps at time we can only romanticize. Henry Kramer, not only desire a simpler life of yesterday, he actually has the means to achieve it.

An elderly gentleman living in a rooming house, Henry is able to venture to 1937 through a mysterious portal in his closet. Henry's portal affords him the ability to buy life's necessities at yesterday's prices. It isn't until Henry decides to use the portal and 1937 to find his granddaughter a companion that things begin to get out of hand.

A lighthearted story succeeds in highlighting the fact that in every era has its advantages and disadvantages and that we shouldn't romanticize the past, but rather celebrate the present.

Full Chicken Richness
Avram Davidson

© 1983
This story, among the shortest in the anthology, succeeds in telling the story of what happens when an enterpernuial spirit and access to a time portal combine.

At the heart of the story is an eccentric businessman and recluse called Abelardo. Abelardo produces an interesting soup base that lists among it's ingredients something called "Full Chicken Richness" . The true meaning of this secret ingredient becomes a challenge for Fred Hopkins to discover. Hopkins an artist who specializes in painting historical buildings stumbles upon Abelardo and the secret of his soup base unexpectedly one day. What he Fred finds becomes a lesson in the danger of messing with the past and the environment.

Another Story
Ursala K. Le Guin

© 1994
"I apologize in advance for the lack of detail related to this particular review. I no longer have in my possession the book and my memory is a bit hazy as to the details. I will however endeavor to update this review in the near future when I have had an opportunity to reread the story - Andy"

In this haunting story of loss and regret, author Ursala K. LeGuin tells the story of an alien race who are at work on bridging the gaps of space and time. One person in this society decides to travel to a far off scientific post to help research this new technology. The problem being that they will have to say good bye to the family forever, since the temporal dilation of traditional space travel will mean that should he decide to return home in the future, his family will have all passed on, or be significantly older. Committed to his career choice our main character leaves behind his family and potential relationships, to begin his quest.

During his training and experiments, he is transported to his own past and home world, where he begins his life where he left off. Curiously no temporal consequences seem to be associated with his trip and his life takes on a new direction, as he is given a second chance in life.

I found the story perhaps the most moving of all the stories. In simple straightforward telling of the main character's story LeGuin manages to underscore the significance of the decisions we all make in life regardless of their size. For me, I found the message to be one of live your life to the fullest and be sure to avoid looking backing life with regrets by taking action here and now.

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