Literature / The Accidental Time Machine

The Accidental Time Machine is a Science Fiction book by Joe Haldeman about a man who accidentally creates a time machine and has some quirky adventures with it. The main problem is that the time machine can only go into the future, and each time he uses it, the stretch of time he jumps is twelve times greater than the previous jump. He figures that sometime in the future, someone will create a time machine that can take him back home, so he continues traveling forward and exploring the various worlds in which he arrives.

This book has examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Christian dystopia is ruled by an evil AI.
  • Author Tract: The book contains rants about the evils of Christianity.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Carried out by the Jesus AI with Kill Sats.
  • Civil War: What led to the formation of the theocracy.
  • Church Militant: Used to form a dystopia.
  • Divided States of America: By the 22nd century, the United States is divided down the middle, with sane Jews occupying the west and evil Christians occupying the east.
  • Dystopia: The theocracy in the 22nd century.
  • Force-Field Door: Pressor fields. Apparently, they exist even in Matt's own time.
  • The Fundamentalist: Everyone in the dystopia.
  • God Guise: An AI pretends to be Jesus and may even believe it.
  • God Is Evil: This is the sentiment expressed by Matt, and certainly seems to be the case in the Christian dystopia if their AI in God Guise counts.
  • Latex Space Suit: Matt and Martha wear these at one point.
  • No Biological Sex: Humans in the future will become like this.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Future civilizations speaking disparagingly of the theocracy.
  • The Plague: A separate time traveler brought influenza into a future with no defenses against the disease.
  • Porn Stash: Matt carts around a future laptop filled with porn. Eventually, Martha looks at it and mistakes it for sex education videos.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stable Time Loop: Matt eventually travels back long before he left, and his great-great-grandson becomes Matt's annoying boss, without whose presence he never would have created the time machine.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The dystopia's role for women. Matt doesn't like it.
  • Terraform: This is done to the moon at one point.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The book starts in 2057, but most technological advancement is inconspicuous enough for the book to look like it's set very close to present day.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: Exactly where the million dollars came from (and the note that merely says Get in the car and go) that bailed Matt out of jail in 2058 is never explained, as he and Martha end up dropped in 1898 and never create another time machine. Also, at no time does the novel mention Matt setting in place measures which would allow a descendant of his (who might conceivably look at least a bit like Matt) to go the the law firm with the cashier's checks and note.
  • Written by the Winners: The theocracy's version of history is a bit different from the modern understanding.