Time Travel: A History

Celebrated science writer James Gleick (Chaos, Genius) takes readers on a scientific and cultural journey through the history of time travel, investigating time machines as well as paradoxes and quandaries scientific and metaphysical.

Gleick kicks off with H.G. Wells, but Time Travel bounces along thematic paths rather than chronological ones: one chapter deals with the philosophical implications of time travel, while another addresses the physics of entropy (it's what makes time move forward for us, and keeps us from being able to go backward). Gleick is omnivorous, finding his muse in every available source, and is as likely to make a reference to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Back to the Future as he is Tom Stoppard or Richard Feynman.

Though versed in sci-fi and pop culture, Gleick's chief concern is the nature and definition of time itself. "People keep asking what time is," he writes, "as if the right combination of words could slip the lock and let in the light" (an apt metaphor, given the intimate relationship of light and time). "We want a fortune cookie definition," he muses, then obliges with a volley of quoted witticisms.

Brilliant, charming and insightful, Gleick has been heaped with awards and praise for his assorted books--including his previous, The Information, about the techno-cultural era. Like time itself, Gleick's writing adds dimension to lived experience, and a way to keep track of it. --Zak Nelson, writer and bookseller

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