Review of The Clock that went Backwards by Edward Page Mitchell

18586183What a lovely short story, asking an excellent question: if time can go forwards, surely it can go backwards too?

The story is about two cousins who visit a ‘great-aunt Gertrude’ (I had to chuckle at that – just how many great-aunt Gertrudes are there?) who has a notable clock: the clock neither ticks nor tocks. Then one night they witness their great-aunt Gertrude winding the clock up, and it then going backwards – something great-aunt Gertrude appears to be happy about, until she falls down, apparently dead.

Then comes one of the funniest lines I’ve read in a while, speaking of experiences in military school: “…and a good deal of the art of standing with our noses over our heels”. That really had me chuckling for a while.

Either rate, so the two cousins – well, Harry being the main recipient – inherit the clock, and get finances to go and study at the University of Leyden, which just happens to be in the town the clock originates from. They go, taking the clock with them, and there they meet a philosophy scholar who is into metaphysics, and is quite happy to accept the concept of time going backward just as much as it goes forward. At which point the theory gets a little hairy, if one can follow it at all!

How fantastic that this story was written almost 140 years ago, and is pretty complex in its consideration of time and time travel. A groundbreaker indeed – and it certainly came onto the stage with a splash. It has the whole time paradox question, which leaves one chewing over it for a good while after reading, and is really, on the whole, quite complex.

An excellent, accessible read that is not – to me, at least – stilted by the language of 140 years hence, and for what it is, a prime example of time travel.

4/5 rating.

My fellow time travelling readers are:

Timothy C. Ward (on hiatus)
Alesha Escobar (maternity leave)
H.M. Jones
DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

Tilting at Windmills

While I don’t deal with the same issues in the world immediately surrounding me, I agree with the general impetus of this post.

Pulled Pork and Prayer

Don-Quixote-Windmill-smI’ve heard that the older you get and the more you experience of life, the less bothered you are by the cause of the moment that gets everyone around you twisted up in a bunch. I appreciate the youthful zeal of tilting at windmills over the “cause du jour.” I did the same when I was a kid.

But as I’m knocking hard at 50, the things that I get worked up over aren’t the things people make memes about. They aren’t the things that hundreds of thousands of people will all chime in to boycott. The things that I get worked up over directly affect my family.

I get worked up over IEPs and teachers who don’t follow them. I get worked up over whether my kids are applying themselves to learning, or improving themselves. I get worked up over unexpected expenses and paydays that are too far…

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

18586183A very strange story this. I’m not sure where to start. The story is of a Max Beerbohm who meets another man called Enoch Soames in 1893. Enoch is distinguishable for his… invisibility. But Beerbohm admires him, perhaps initially idolises him. Soames craves fame, but despite publishing three works over several years, gets none.

Eventually he is so despondent that he reckons to bargain with the Devil himself for a time trip 100 years hence to find out if he is a notable or not. The Devil overhears the desire, and grants it, sending Soames on a trip to the future.

Well. A story gently told, and it held my interest well enough. It studies the human desire most hold for fame and recognition. Somewhat depressing, really, and one garners some sympathy for Soames.

And certainly, time travel with a difference!

2/5 rating.

My fellow time travelling readers are:

Timothy C. Ward (on hiatus)
Alesha Escobar (maternity leave)
H.M. Jones
DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)