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The Time Traveler's Almanac
Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, editors
Tor Books, $25.99, 960pp
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
If you are enthralled by the beauty and passion of 18th Century Scotland in Outlander or long to journey through time and space with The Doctor, award-winning anthologists Jeff and Ann VanderMeer have assembled the perfect guidebook for you.

The Time Traveler’s Almanac is the definitive compilation of time-travel related stories, including 70 fiction and non-fiction works – from the earliest published story about a time machine, “The Clock that Ran Backwards” by Edward Page Mitchell, through stories by current faves like Carrie Vaughn (“Swing Time”). Along the way are stories by such masters as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Ted Sturgeon, William Gibson, Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe and, of course, the granddaddy of them all, H.G. Wells. About the only authors not included are Philip K. Dick and Neil Gaiman.

With so many works included, it’s impossible not to find something to suit your taste. A personal favorite was “Ripples in the Dirac Sea” by Geoffrey Landis. The story follows a time-travel researcher who discovers he is unable to change the past, and is also unable to change his future. Trapped in a burning building, with only minutes left, he journeys to the past over and over, living lifetimes yet unable to escape his inevitable death in the present. “Ripples” won the Hugo in 1989 and is one of the best in the collection.

Another favorite is Connie Willis’s homage to the heroic Brits who survived the Blitz, “Fire Watch.” Another Hugo winner, this introduction to her Oxford historian’s series follows a time traveler from the mid-21st Century studying the fire watch defenders of St. Paul’s Cathedral during World War II. While it doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch of her later “Doomsday Book”, it is still a masterful love-letter to the brave souls who protected England’s landmarks during the Blitz.

Other highlights include:

Douglas Adams’ “Young Zaphod Plays It Safe.” Originally published in a Comic Relief charity anthology in the mid ‘80s, this story provides a glimpse into the background of the two-headed president of the galaxy from the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” series. It focuses on the time when he unleashed Ronald Reagan on an utterly insignificant little blue green planet in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy.

John Chu’s “30 Seconds from Now.” This heartbreaking story follows a reclusive young man who can see the future in all its possible iterations. The story charts one of his potential paths as he finds love and ultimately loss, reaffirming his isolation.

Kim Newman’s “Is There Anybody There.” A 1920s spiritualist uses an Ouija board and accidentally connects with a 21st century computer hacker who stalks women in chat rooms. She soon finds her psychic powers extend beyond merely predicting the future.

The collection also includes a handful of essays regarding proper time-travel etiquette and fashion, as well as the ideal playlist for a time-traveler – which, of course, includes “The Time Warp” and “In the Year 2525.”

So whenever you get around to installing that Flux Capacitor on your DeLorean, The Time Traveler’s Almanac should be an essential addition to your glove box. And until then, it will provide plenty of inspiration.

Complete list of stories and essays:

“Young Zaphod Plays It Safe” by Douglas Adams

“Terminós” by Dean Francis Alfar

“What If?” by Isaac Asimov

“Noble Mold” by Kage Baker

“A Night on the Barbary Coast” by Kage Baker

“Life Trap” by Barrington J. Bayley

“This Tragic Glass” by Elizabeth Bear

“Enoch Soames: A Memory of the Eighteen-Nineties” by Max Beerbohm

“The Most Important Thing in the World” by Steve Bein

“In The Tube” by E. F. Benson

“The Mask of the Rex” by Richard Bowes

“A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury

“Bad Timing” by Molly Brown

“The Gulf of the Years” by George-Olivier Châteaureynaud

“The Threads of Time” by C. J. Cherryh

“Thirty Seconds From Now” by John Chu

“Palindromic” by Peter Crowther

“Domine” by Rjurik Davidson

“The Lost Continent” by Greg Egan

“The Gernsback Continuum” by William Gibson

“3 RMS, Good View” by Karen Haber

“Message in a Bottle” by Nalo Hopkinson

“The Great Clock” by Langdon Jones

“Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters” by Alice Sola Kim

“On the Watchtower at Plataea” by Garry Kilworth

“Time Gypsies” by Ellen Klages

“Vintage Seasons” by Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore

“At Dorado” by Geoffrey A. Landis

“Ripples in the Dirac Sea” by Geoffrey Landis

“The Final Days” by David Langford

“Fish Night” by Joe Lansdale

“As Time Goes By” by Tanith Lee

“Another Story” by Ursula K. Le Guin

“Loob” by Bob Leman

“Alexia and Graham Bell” by Rosaleen Love

“Traveller’s Rest” by David I. Masson

“Death Ship” by Richard Matheson

“Under Siege” by George R. R. Martin

“The Clock That Went Backwards” by Edward Page Mitchell

“Pale Rose” by Michael Moorcock

“The House that Made the Sixteen Loops of Time” by Tamsyn Muir

“Is There Anybody There?” by Kim Newman

“Come-From-Aways” by Tony Pi

“The Time Telephone” by Adam Roberts

“Red Letter Day” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“The Waitabits” by Eric Frank Russell

“If Ever I Should Leave You” by Pamela Sargent

“How the Future Got Better” by Eric Schaller

“Needle in a Timestack” by Robert Silverberg

“Delhi” by Vandana Singh

“Himself in Anachron” by Cordwainer Smith

“The Weed of Time” by Norman Spinrad

“Palimpsest” by Charlie Stross

“Yesterday Was Monday” by Theodore Sturgeon

“Triceratops Summer” by Michael Swanwick

“The Mouse Ran Down” by Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Augusta Prima” by Karin Tidbeck

“Twenty-One and Counting Up” by Harry Turtledove

“Forty, Counting Down” by Harry Turtledove

“Where or When” by Steven Utley

“Swing Time” by Carrie Vaughn

excerpt from The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

“Fire Watch” by Connie Willis

“Against the Lafayette Escadrille” by Gene Wolfe

“The Lost Pilgrim” by Gene Wolfe

"Introduction" by Rian Johnson

"Music for Time Travelers" by Jason Heller

"Time Travel in Theory and Practice" by Stan Love

"Trousseau: Fashion for Time Travelers" by Genevieve Valentine

"Top Ten Tips for Time Travelers" by Charles Yu

~~  Michael Senft

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