The Time Traveller’s Almanac

To give its full title, The Time Traveller’s Almanac: The Ultimate Treasury of Time Travel Fiction – Brought to You from the Future, is an enormous anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. I spotted the large hardback in Waterstones and mentally filed it as something to consider getting later – partly because of the hefty price (£25 or thereabouts), but mostly because of the size of the thing – getting on for 1,000 larger than average pages. But when it showed up as a Kindle special deal at just £1.09[1], I could hardly click the “buy” button quickly enough.

Having read the whole thing over the last week or so (aren’t holidays great?), I’d say it’s well worth the full price (though you might want to budget for wrist supports if you buy the hardback). It contains a delightful range of sf stories ranging from the Victorian period (including an excerpt from H G Wells’s The Time Machine), passing though the whole of the 20th century and including Charlie Stross’s Palimpsest, which was a delight to read again. While some of the stories were familiar to me, some I hadn’t seen at all, others I hadn’t seen in so long that they were “as new”, and overall the standard is very high indeed. As with all anthologies, there were some that didn’t quite work for me, but these were in a small minority.

Along with the fiction are some section-opening essays which touch on various time-related matters. How much you will enjoy these will depend on personal taste, of course. I founds myself skimming the prog-rock dominated one relating to the influence of time travel on popular music, for instance…

Not all the stories deal with actual time travel as such – some are more loosely time-related, but that just adds to the interest.

In short, if you’re at all interested in time-related SF, and you’re keen on a bit of wibbly-wobbliness, you’ll more than likely enjoy this collection.

Watch out if you’re buying the Kindle version – it’s also being sold in sections. Getting the single book version seems to be cheaper most of the time (though not always as cheap as it was the day I bought it!).

[1] Note: today’s UK Kindle price is a still quite reasonable £6.71