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The Very Slow Time Machine Mass Market Paperback – May 5, 1955


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ace; 1ST edition (May 5, 1955)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441861903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441861903
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,823,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
My first exposure to Ian Watson’s extensive SF catalog could not have been more impressive.

The collection is filled with narrative experimentation (“Programmed Loved Story,” “Agoraphobia, A.D. 2000,” etc), some awe inspiring ideas (“The Very Slow Time Machine,” “The Girl Who Was Art” etc.), a few delightful allegories (“Our Loves So Truly Meridional,” “My Soul Swims in a Goldfish Bowl”), and a handful of more traditional SF stories that hint at anthropological themes (“On Cooking the First Hero in Spring,” “A Time-Span To Conjure With” etc).

Inspired by Watson’s personal experiences teaching English in Africa and Japan, most works are frequently infused with non-Western characters and locals. The blend is heady, stylistically acute, and highly recommended for fans of literary SF. Thankfully, I have his first two novels—The Embedding (1973) and The Jonah Kit (1975)—unread on the shelf.

Brief Plot Summary/Analysis

“The Very Slow Time Machine” (1978) 5/5 (Very Good): Nominated for the 1979 Hugo Award for best short story. Frequent readers of my site will have noticed my general dislike for time travel stories. However, Watson’s “The Very Slow Time Machine” has become one of my favorite of the sub genre. The Very Slow Time Machine (VSTM) appears in an unoccupied space December 1985 at the National Psychical Laboratory. As time progresses forward the occupant–initially “ragged and tattered as a tramp: as crazy, dirt, woe-begone and tangle-haired as any lunatic in an ancient Bedlam cell”—of the Time Machine grows “saner and more presentable” (2). How exactly time works for the Time Machine and its occupant is slowly revealed over the decades—and the occupant’s position slowly becomes Christ-like figure for those that observe him through the glass.
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