Tom MacWright

I read Time Travel: A History by James Gleick on


Gleick’s ‘Time Travel’ includes one scene with a physicist rolling his eyes wearily, explaining that, yes, time travel is possible in the case of black holes, but that he would rather not talk about it. Unfortunately I felt like that guy when I was reading this book.

There are only so many times I can read that time is like ‘a river’, or read a paragraph-length biography of someone’s life in order to support their two sentences of historical contribution. The historical viewpoint, too, gives the story a sort of interrupted flow. Sure, it makes a lot of sense to ‘start from the beginning’ but I wish that the physical approaches (time as a field, as a measure of entropy, as relative or absolute) were enumerated rather than unveiled one by one, deep in mostly unnecessary context.

This might sound like a review written by some guy who heard about time travel and wants a time machine as soon as possible, with as little interference as possible. And maybe I’ve worn out my nonfiction reading ability by overdosing on these mile-deep scientific/literary history books. But anyway, Time Travel seemed, well, like a lackluster use of my time, a book that tried to be too much in and of itself and that never really developed into anything or built on itself, perhaps like our thinking about time travel itself.