AN OBSERVER BOOK OF THE YEAR
From the acclaimed author of The Information and Chaos, a mind-bending exploration of time travel: its subversive origins, its evolution in literature and science, and its influence on our understanding of time itself.
Gleick's story begins at the turn of the twentieth century with the young H. G. Wells writing and rewriting the fantastic tale that became his first book, an international sensation, The Time Machine. A host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological — the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilisations, and the perfection of clocks. Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea in the culture — from Marcel Proust to Doctor Who, from Woody Allen to Jorge Luis Borges. He explores the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.
'Skilfully weaves together science, technology and culture in a dazzling history of time travel' New Statesman
‘A glorious compendium of conundrums and mind-bogglers … What one reveres Gleick for are the bridges he opens between high science, which he and a few other cognoscenti understand, and the low fiction that everyone enjoys. That’s the word to end with: “enjoy”. In whatever universe you happen to be reading this’ The Times
‘Wonderful and deceptively unassuming … Time, for us, is movement in stasis: we cannot travel backwards or forwards in it but are stuck in the moment, although the moment is always new. This is a profound mystery, and one that the greatest minds throughout history have been unable to make even a start at solving… (Gleick is) possessed of a splendidly dry wit’ Irish Times
‘Time Travel is written with his usual elegance’ Guardian
‘Endlessly fascinating and as thorough as you like, but written with his customary grace and wit’ Spectator
‘This book is a bit like you imagine time travel to be: a dizzying mind-rush through a century of ideas, some lingered over, some only glimpsed; some clearly seen, some blurry. It is vertiginous, exciting, paradoxical – and worth making the journey’ Sunday Times
‘Enthralling…in these pages, time flies’ John Banville
‘Time Travel regularly manages to twist its reader’s mind … A wonderful reminder that the most potent time-travelling technology we have is also the oldest technology we have: storytelling’ Anthony Doerr
‘Superb … Rich in obscure and illuminating information, laced with lyricism, wit, and startling and convincing insights’ Joyce Carol Oates
‘Weird, enthralling, surreal, dreamlike, almost intoxicating’ Irish Independent
‘Gleick more or less invented the modern style of mind-bending scientific non-fiction that does not talk down to its audience: Time Travel is written with his usual elegance’ Guardian
About the author
JAMES GLEICK (around.com) is our leading chronicler of science and technology, the best-selling author of Chaos: Making a New Science, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, and The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. His books have been translated into thirty languages.