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Time Travelers Never Die Hardcover – November 3, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Hardcover (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441017630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441017638
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McDevitt (Seeker) avoids flashy action scenes in this tale of two friends using a time machine to take a grand tour of history. When Adrian Shel Shelbourne's physicist father disappears and leaves behind a time-travel device, Shel and his friend Dave Dryden, a language expert, search for Shel's father in Galileo's Italy, Selma during the civil rights marches and other famous times and places. Realizing that time resists paradoxes and history can't be changed, the two friends seize the opportunity to live enriching, truly humane lives from Thermopylae to a few minutes in the future. As the paradoxes begin to pile up and their luck in dodging some of history's villains runs out, McDevitt ingeniously handles a tricky denouement that will leave readers satisfied. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When scientist Michael Shelburne vanishes, his son Adrian—Shel to his friends—suspects unusual circumstances but not that his father has discovered the secret of time travel. Figuring it out, however, Shel and friend David Dryden use Michael’s devices to find the missing man in a quest that takes them through Depression-era Philadelphia, Renaissance Italy, the bloody civil rights march at Selma, and the as-yet-unburned library of Alexandria’s collection of the classical Greek dramatists. Eventually they succeed, but Shel’s curiosity spurs him to travel into the future, where he discovers his impending death, and then to search for a way to avoid that fate. That search occupies the book’s latter half and becomes a masterpiece of storytelling and exploration of the paradoxes of time travel. In fact, the whole book ranks very highly in McDevitt’s quarter-century of work distinguished by high intelligence, fine world building, and superb characterization. --Roland Green

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By James Tepper VINE VOICE on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Well, the title of my review and one star rating pretty much tells how much I liked the book. What was wrong with it? Almost everything. I am a fan of Jack McDevitt's Priscilla Hutchins ("The Academy Novels") space operas. They were exciting, contained good "hard" science fiction, and were greatly enhanced and made more believable by the military verisimilitude deriving from McDevitt's military and tactical background.

"Time Travelers Never Die" has none of this. There is no science in the fiction. The time machines are little portable devices invented by Shel's [the principal protagonist] father who has gone missing in time but there is no attempt at even the briefest explanation of how they work, how they were invented etc. And when one of them all of a sudden stops working, the inventor father is completely unable to even attempt a diagnosis or repair. Oh really? This is compounded by totally flat characters, no action, nothing original, nada. Just an endless travelogue of two buddies looking through time for Shel's dad. And the travelogue is totally sterile - barren of any local flavor or culture. Every place is like every other place - only the names have changed. There is nothing to distinguish Shakespeare's 16 century England from the Alexandria of 149 B.C. In several places from the Library of Alexandria through the Revolutionary war our heroes show several 21st century photographs of Shel's father, as well as a modern digital camera and cell phone to some extremely well-known and intelligent historical figures. Our ancestors don't seem to have any problem with lame explanations as to what these artifacts are or how they come to be in existence. Talk about suspension of disbelief! I was literally laughing out loud.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 30, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Michael Shelbourne is a physicist with broad interests in history and literature. We never learn how he comes into possession of three iPod-like "converters" that allow their owners to travel through time, although he presumably had a hand in inventing them. When Michael disappears, the converters fall into the hands of his son Shel and his multilingual friend Dave. After some initial fumbling to learn the tricks of time travel, the two are off into the past. Their initial goal is to find Shel's father, but the agenda expands to include historical sight-seeing, rescue of lost manuscripts, and lucrative art investing. Big fun!

The story has interesting strengths. No time is wasted with pages of invented pseudoscience justifying time travel technology. Technical concerns are limited to keeping the hand-held time machines charged and dry. There is a constraint that each converter can only transport one person--and there are only three of them. (Actually, with time-hopping and fast-fingered borrowing, there can sometimes be more than three.) This leads to situations where one time traveler gets in trouble and another has to get him out. They range from the mundane "my converter is out of juice" through several varieties of converter theft and loss to more complex scenarios where a time jump might create a paradox.

And there are weaknesses. Big ones, unfortunately. The main characters are disappointingly shallow. Shel and Dave have a few moving experiences, such as attending the Selma civil rights march and spending an evening with Ben Franklin's discussion group. These are exceptions. They more often hop into an historical event, watch the highlights, snap a few pictures, and push the big, black go-home button.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jym Cherry on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I admit it. I'm a sucker for time travel stories. I read Heinlein's The Door Into Summer when I was a teenager, Time After Time and The Guns of the South in my 20's and when I run across a time travel novel I'm usually an easy mark for it. So, Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt seemed an interesting title so I went for it.

With a title like Time Travelers Never Die, of course, the first thing the author is going to do is open the book with a funeral. The funeral is for Michael Shelborne who is a gifted physicist who mysteriously disappears. After the funeral his son Adrian Shelborne, also a physicist but a much less gifted one than his father, receives a letter from his father's attorney which puts him in possession of two Q-pods that seem to be akin to MP3 players. Adrian soon discovers the Q-pods to be time machines. Shel, as Adrian is known as, quickly decides that his father didn't die but went into the past and something happened to him there and he was unable to return. He enlists his friend Dave and they go into the past to find Shel's father.

Soon the urgency to find Shel's father dissipates quickly after they fail to find him in a crowd but they rationalize "they have all the time in the world," and Shel and Dave are off on their time travels. The main conceit of the novel, to rescue Shel's father is relegated to sub-plot status. Their time travel adventures seem like very facile time travelogues with them visiting the library at Alexandria and taking pictures with their cell phones of the lost plays of Sophocles. Which they bring them back and give them anonymously to a colleague of Dave's in a subplot that is dropped without a real resolution. The travels themselves are very brief. We're never given a real sense of the time or the people Shel and Dave visit.
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