Time Travel: A History
By James Gleick
A lot of the staples of science fiction are impossibilities, finessed by bending the rules of physics or inventing magical technologies. Expeditions outside our own galaxy, for example, are hard to imagine given the immense distances involved. So enter the wormhole and hyperspace drives. And time travel will never be anything more than a thought experiment. Unless you could build a time machine.
Time travel has a long history, going back to the publication of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine in 1895. James Gleick describes this history in Time Travel, providing a fascinating cultural history of the idea as it has been explored both in science and in fiction. The style is much like that of the literary critic Hugh Kenner, handling a wide and deep swathe of twentieth-century art and thought in a way that teases us into further contemplation of all the cultural crossways being mapped.
Finally, however, it all remains a tease. Time is a vague concept whose meaning (and even reality) is hard to pin down. We can only say a lot about what’s been said about it, which is a history still being written.