Book Review: About Time By Mike Murphey

It is 2044 and the great mystery of physics in our time has finally been realised – yes, we have finally managed to travel backwards through time. Through a combination of money from world governments and giant corporations, everybody has come together to find discover what they can about the universe, to see if there is any commercial gain from doing so and to finally discover if you really can kill your own grandfather before you are even born.

We are given a brief back story of what happens between now and then with some amusing insights – people of the 2040s decided that flying cars was a bit pants as a concept, mostly because your daughter already has to worry about left, right, back and forward while she is texting at the wheel without the added burden of up and down as well! The Middle East is still unstable – it used to be because The West wanted their oil and now they are angry because we no longer need it (snicker).

We are introduced to the three “Travellers”, fairly early on and as with any “new technology – who do we send” story, we are given a rather necessary lengthy explanation for why they in particular were chosen. It’s all rather interesting and they are pretty normal people – not just professional USAF pilot types who had their sense of humour surgically removed the day before their charisma organ was excised.

We deal with some very normal ideas in amongst all the sciencey (and later silly) bits too – it seems necessary that people travel into the past naked, something that the female members of the team do not trust from the nerdy male counterparts. It also seems that the engineers built a simple system but because investors expect to see a Star Trek-esque set, they are implored to put in a periscope, spinning red lights and blinking dashboards (all useless of course but at least they look cool). The silliness doesn’t end there either. As we start to get a grip on concepts of multiple universe theory, the plot gets very wacky – bit I won’t spoil it here. What I will say though is that it feels quirky in a Heinleinesque way.

Hard science fiction is not usually such an engaging, amusing and downright hilarious read – it is often challenging and mind-opening and that is why I love the sub-genre and partake of it when occasion takes my fancy. This book deals with some very heavy concepts within physics. This tackles – in prose form – interesting ideas about not just time travel and wormholes, but multiple universe theory, warp drives, black holes and dark matter. This might sound like sort of thing to make your head explode but please don’t run away as it does so in “layman’s terms” (or at least, layman’s terms if you have more than a rudimentary grasp of physics) without dumbing down the science – a feat in itself so the author gets top marks for that.

And the wackiness? Well, it all makes sense in the end – or perhaps I’ve just fallen into one of the author’s alternate universes :-S

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