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Time Travel Audiobook

Time Travel: A History

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Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed author of The Information and Chaos, a mind-bending exploration of time travel: its subversive origins, its evolution in literature and science, and its influence on our understanding of time itself.

Gleick's story begins at the turn of the 20th century, with the young H. G. Wells writing and rewriting the fantastic tale that became his first book, an international sensation: The Time Machine. A host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological - the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilizations, and the perfection of clocks. Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea in the culture, from Marcel Proust to Doctor Who, from Woody Allen to Jorge Luis Borges. He explores the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.

©2016 James Gleick (P)2016 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"In his enthralling new book, James Gleick mounts H.G. Wells's time machine for an invigorating ride through the most baffling of the four dimensions. In these pages, time flies." (John Banville)

"James Gleick is a master historian of ideas - no one else can do what he does. Synthesis leads to elucidation leads to stunning, original insight. Time Travel, like so much of his work, is simply indispensable." (Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe)

"Magnificent. A riveting history of an idea that changed us so profoundly, we forgot we had even been changed. But Gleick remembers." (Lev Grossman, books editor of TIME and author of the Magicians trilogy)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Adrian Hoad-Reddick, WHAT IF? Magazine 11-17-16
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    "SF: The canary in the coal mine of time"

    Science fiction has always been at the centre of my love of books, reading and indeed the ways I view my world. Gleick surveys SF for its roles in shaping how we view time, and his analysis is utterly compelling. There is an apt quotation in the book about how hard it is to consider Time and hold it up for analysis. Gleick's Time Travel: A History does just that with grace and an abiding reverence for the creators of our most portable of time machines: the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    Versh 11-28-16
    Versh 11-28-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Encompasses many aspects, yet most only intros"

    Overall, Gleick has written another effusively informative and entertaining book, yet much of the many worlds interpretation and finer details of quantum mechanics are coolly glossed over. Sure I'm glad all of my favorite literary references made it, but I was hoping for more background in the science department.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 04-21-17
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 04-21-17 Member Since 2016

    l'enfer c'est les autres

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    "Fiction gives us Truth by connecting the dots"

    Why is there something rather than nothing? There is really no more fundamental question we ask ourselves as human beings. It might be a poorly formulated question but it gets at why we learn, why we listen to books at audible, and why we can believe Plato when he makes the statement "an unexamined life is not worth living". Sure we dance around with other variations of that question such as "what is the meaning of life", "what's my purpose" or "what is truth"? All the kinds of questions we ask ourselves and gives us our purpose beyond ourselves. Time travel stories get at answering those kind of questions and this book connects the dots between that genre and those questions.

    Fictional authors who describe time travel often have insight about the real problems concerning our existence. For 2400 years there's been a debate concerning "being" first posed by the pre-Socratics Heraclitus ("no man ever steps in the same river twice") and Parmenides ("there's only one substance in the universe" and it ain't you!). That debate was on the nature of 'Being' v. 'Becoming'. But, it has modern implications on the nature of Time, the now, identity, truth, being and reality . Einstein takes Time out of the universe with his block universe and Bergson want to keep it in with his psychological time. (The book brings these points up, but it doesn't mention that even Einstein would speak of his self proclaimed 'original sin' of tying the speed of light to a physical clock, and Karl Popper will tie Parmenides' "one" to Einstein's block universe).

    Do we live in a deterministic universe or is there free will? That question gets at is there necessary existence or is there contingency around us, does cause always proceed effect or is there an Absolute Idea? As Hume is quoted to have said in this book, "we see the effect but we never can see the cause". What is the cause of the effect is not always obvious. Western thought and our science think in the terms of effect always is caused by something. Bertrand Russel, quoted in this book, is shown to have said that cause and effect are a convenient fiction of sorts, a way that science uses to explain the world but not necessarily understand the world. Eastern philosophical thought doesn't rely on cause and effect and the author will quote the Buddha and other Eastern thinkers to that effect. The East has a different perspective on the 'now' from the West. Time travel stories obviously delve into this and offer insights on how to think about the issues. The author connects the dots for the listener.

    The now is never known except through the memories of the past and the expectations of the future. The more we embrace the now the less we can know of the forever. The nature of Time is elusive. Einstein takes it out of the universe. Others (just as smart) try to put it back into the universe. They make it an 'emergent property' of the universe itself, but never quite defining what emerges. Various time travel works of fiction get discussed while talking about these kind of topics within this book. Time travel stories allow for different takes on the eternal and what outside of time and space could mean. The author will connect the dots for the listener. He'll even bring in Marcel Proust and relate his masterpiece to time travel stories.

    I think it's wrong when I see people call time travel books bunk because of the paradoxes. Absolute scientific knowledge about the real world is a fiction (science never proves anything it can just show something is not true). For example, force does not equal mass times acceleration. That was thought to be a bedrock, universal, necessary and certain statement until Einstein made his relativistic correction. There is a paradox at the core of understanding reality. One can even argue that the geocentric model is correct by constantly invoking auxiliary hypothesizes. The measurement problem in physics is real. The double slit experiment and Heisenberg uncertainty principal give us a violation of the second law of logic, the mutual exclusive law. Copenhagen Interpretation gives one resolution to the problem by making an observer necessary in order to collapse the wave function. Hugh Everret III takes it one step less by applying Ockham's Razor and eliminating an unnecessary entity, the observer, that leads to the Multi World Interpretation (MWI). There are other possible solutions, the book mentions a Bayesian solution, let your prior opinion of the past weigh your likelihood of the present and that determine your expectation of the future. All of these thoughts are in this book by way of explaining some time travel stories. I'm going to take it one thought further by stating why Bayesian is important. "All crows are black" is logically equivalent to "if it is not black then it is not a crow", so therefore, that non-black thing in front of you, say a white sheet of paper, is evidence in support of crows being black. Bayesian statistics is the only way I know how to discount that information appropriately. This book doesn't have that example, but it does speak about logic and necessity and contingency and possibility and impossibility and how we use paradoxes to get at truth and being.

    Paradoxes are at the core of reason. Kierkegaard gets quoted to that effect in one of the chapter headings in this book. For a full explication of that I would recommend his "Fear and Trembling" available at audible. He'll describe how the contradictions within the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac only make sense if you understand the absurdities entwined within the story, and that our life itself has an absurd nature surrounding it. Some of the absurdity is explained by our knowing the "now" and also knowing our finite nature in order to understand the infinite. The particular defines the general. We say cigarettes cause cancer, but we never say that a certain cigarette caused a specific person's cancer. (That example is in this book). We are made up of instances of the now, but we think of ourselves as selfsame. Time travel stories allow us to peek into the absurdity, the identity (selfsameness), and particular verse universal nature of reality. Each of these problems are illustrated within this book by time travel stories.

    The book mentioned the movie "Predestination" (2015 with Ethan Hawke from a Robert Heinlein book). Of course, I ended up watching that film after I finished listening to this book. The movie really illustrates why time travel fiction can be so fun to indulge in. A lot of people reject time travel prima facie, they hate the grandfather paradox. They shouldn't. All models of the world will have the 'originary' problem. Some thing will always have to be the cause of itself. Aristotle pretty much just says that the universe was always there and will always be there, it is its own cause. Augustine (and St. Thomas Aquinas) will push the problem back and say the universe was created out of nothing ( 'ex nihilo') by a creator, but the creator was always there and always will be. The problem of something causing itself becomes obvious when we think about it in terms of our grandparents but when we consider 13.7 billion years ago we forget the problem is still there. In the end, for there to be a ground or foundation something will have to be a cause of itself, the 'ouroboros' (I think the author uses that word too) effect is present if you go back 13.7 billion years or 100 years. One just spots the paradox quicker when it happens to be their grandfather or themselves in the scenario.

    Literature,in general, usually gives us insights into 'human being'. Everybody understands what the human experience means in some way. We have different opinions and beliefs but we all have an experience of existing. Time travel stories give us insights into just plain old 'being', and it takes us towards the variation of the question "why is there something rather than nothing", or in other words what is 'being'. This book connects some of the dots between time travel fiction and how they relate to issues within philosophy and science and explained to me why I've always watched time travel movies and TV shows when they come on and how they can give us insights into 'being', time, identity, the now, truth, and reality, not a mean feat for any book.







    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul 12-18-16
    Paul 12-18-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Insightful Literary of the Public Science On Time"

    Started off fantastic! Author is well read and grasps both the science and literary works on the topic. Unfortunately, it could be shrunk into almost half the size. Got the feeling he was impressed with himself and repeated most the important points through unending quotes of literature throughout the second half of book. Worth reading first 5 or 6 chapters and then skip to the last.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Genin 11-20-16
    E. Genin 11-20-16
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    "Not as Good as Earlier Books"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Would not recommend.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    The story seems to be a composite of bits and pieces from Glieck's other books. As a result it meanders. Not something I find enjoyable.


    Which character – as performed by Rob Shapiro – was your favorite?

    Rob Shapiro is a very good narrator.


    Was Time Travel worth the listening time?

    Not worth my time.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Milligan Texas 10-13-16
    John Milligan Texas 10-13-16 Member Since 2015

    I am a former military Network Administrator from Texas. I love reading, and Audible is the easiest way to do so with my limited time.

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    "Well written and interesting"

    I would suggest this to anyone who is a fan of nonfiction and the idea of time travel. it was largely interesting, but being a history of time travel means that it lacks any real story line. If you don't care for nonfiction generally, then you may want to skip this one, or pick it up in physical format. I personally enjoyed it and found it interesting, particularly the earlier portion of the book that dealt more with the existence of the concept of time travel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cek Bellevue, WA 10-12-16
    cek Bellevue, WA 10-12-16 Member Since 2015

    cek

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    "Super fascinating"

    A bit muddled in the middle and end, but a mind expanding lesson on time and an interesting history of time travel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Jack Littley 06-28-17
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    "Fun History"

    An interesting history of Time and time travel writers from HG Wells' Time Machine to today including what Einstein, Goedel, Hawking and others had to say

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KnightT 03-08-17
    KnightT 03-08-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Time Traveling"

    A very good survey of time and time travel via books, short stories, film, philosophy, and science. Much of it is point of view about what time is or isn't and how it may be cause and effect or not. Gives one a lot to consider. Worthwhile as the author presents lots of different views on a timely topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kennedi 02-11-17
    Kennedi 02-11-17 Member Since 2016

    Hello! Bookworm. Whovian. Audiophile. Nerdfighter.

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    "A Look into the Wibbly-Wobbly thing we call Time"

    This was a charming musing of time itself, not just travel. It goes over every aspect - the science, the literature, and the effect on pop culture - that time-travel and time can offer. The scenes flow into each other, using famous quotes and scenes to illustrate the points. It can be repetitive at times, but in a book with this subject, you can only expect to go around in circles. I absolutely loved the ending, and can't wait for a re-read. And the narrator, Rob Shapiro did a good job at keeping it engaging.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • ade
    Glasgow, Scotland
    1/9/17
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    "Wake me up when we get there"

    I really enjoyed the last chapter but I found the journey of getting there a bit dull.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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