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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Selected Shorts and Other Methods of Time Travel by David Goodberg

In 2051, commercial time travel became a global reality. Opportunities abounded for curious history buffs, futurists, and corrupt entrepreneurs. Selected Shorts and Other Methods of Time Travel is a spellbinding collection of 37 illustrated tales that explore time travel tourism and its repercussions.

In various settings ranging from Earth to deep space, Selected Shorts presents tales of those brave (or foolish) enough to adventure through the space-time continuum. Explore an era devastated by the Worlds War of 2267, cluttered with time traveling tourists and swindlers, terrorized by the allpowerful Icelandic Mafia, endangered by ruthless corporations, and threatened by vigilante space aliens.

The future as we know it will never be the same.


Selected Shorts and Other Methods of Time Travel was, at times, very confusing. By the end of each story, I was thoroughly boggled. But I also have realized, after finishing it, that the boggling nature of virtually the entire collection of stories is what makes it so effective. Most of the stories are pretty pointless, but usually only at first glance; when I first started reading it, I have to admit that I honestly didn't get the point. I also didn't understand how it was, exactly, "thought provoking". But then it hit me: the fact that I was thinking about it at all made it very thought provoking, and made it an honest-to-God success.

The stories were all very quirky and random and unrealistic, but in an insanely smart way; their purpose was to make you do a double take, and make you actually think: What the hell did I just read? They all feel very whimsical, and some didn't seem to have much to do with time travel at all, which I suppose contributed to the mood of the book as a whole. They also definitely hinted towards (and plainly discussed) serious ethical issues and racial discrimination, but when you pair serious social issues like that with David Goodberg's tone of storytelling and people from other planets, it all just became very entertaining to read.The entire collection is told in a very wry, humorous tone, which, even when puzzling over a particularly confusing story, made me smile.

I especially loved the odd quips between each story; they were entirely and completely and utterly pointless, which I'm assuming was the point. Some were just really weird and others were funny, while quite a few were insanely smart in an almost reluctant way. I swear, this book will put you in so many different places at once.

Goodberg's writing was great, continuously holding that same removed, wry tone throughout the entire book which, to be honest, really made the whole thing. None of the stories really seemed to be connected in any huge way (other than the idea of time travel), but they somehow still fit together seamlessly, in a very peculiar, subtle way.

And even though it was, ultimately, epic, I have to admit that there were some stories I didn't really get at all, while there were a few that stood out a lot to me personally (for example, the one where the professor traveled back to Main Street USA). When looking at it as a whole, I have to describe the book as being, well, my seven year old sister hyped up on Halloween candy, two sodas, and more pop tarts than are healthy for her, or maybe a crowd of very vocal people with ADD and very, very conflicting opinions.

Basically, it's kind of genius.

Grade: A


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