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Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt
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Time Travelers Never Die (edition 2010)

by Jack McDevitt

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4492833,344 (3.43)22
Member:monty404c
Title:Time Travelers Never Die
Authors:Jack McDevitt
Info:Ace (2010), Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
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Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt

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When I read the collection of McDevitt's short fiction a week ago one of my favorite stories in it was the original novella 'Time Travelers Never Die' which closed the book. At least two of the stories from that collection became novels. I figured what the heck, lets read the novel now while the story is fresh and I'll see what he does with it. Well, at first this is like one of those times where you loved the book and went to see the movie, and it wasn't bad, but why did they change that part and why was all of that stuck in and why did ... OK, you get the idea. In short, the novella was really good and twisty - 4 stars for sure. The novel, well it begins the same and pretty much ends the same but the story got changed. There were some additions I enjoyed, parts that were mentioned in passing were shown in more depth, backstory fleshed out, technology changes accounted for, much more time travel such as traveling in time to the civil rights movement and and the Selma march led by John Lewis ... we visit notable people in history, and baseball games. That wasn't in the 1996 novella version but was added to the 2009 novel. In fact a lot of extra time trips are added. Eventually I was drawn into this version of the mystery which puts a different spin on events. It was interesting, but I think it lacked the tight intrigue of the original story. Nevertheless I increasingly warmed to the expanded story as I read along.

So it was weird reading this - I knew how it was going to end (unless of course the author changed it) and the journey to get there was different, yet pretty good. In summary I liked the novella version a bit better. It kept the reader off balance and was a good tale. I can't tell how I'd react if I read the novel first. I think I'd love it. I'd recommend it to history fans who want a little science fiction. This is science fiction 'lite', a bit of fun. I would guess Dr. Who fans might love this. My one gripe is that I think the two main characters are pretty indistinguishable from each other much of the time.

Oh, the end. It does indeed get to that same place. But then a few more pages are tacked on to give us something to think about.

4 stars for the novella and the novel gets 3 1/2. ( )
  RBeffa | Apr 26, 2017 |
A rarity among time travel stories - no invading aliens, no split universes, no mentally messy paradoxes; just a very personal story about what two friends would do if they could go anywhen? ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
I like time travel books and this one is no exception. McDevitt writes the novel in a light yet very interesting way, just as if he actually did write a work of fiction but it's in reality the only way to tell his actual adventures!

The basic plot deals with Shel, a man who has just died (or has he?) and is narrated by his friend Dave. We find that Shel discovered his dad's time travel device with explicit instructions to destroy it. Rather than do that, Shel and later Dave discover the time stream. They also find that they're prevented from creating a time paradox. If you create one, you die! Oops!

What was most fascinating about the book for me was the meeting with various historical figures. Some such as Socrates' hemlock maneuver (sorry, couldn't resist that one!) was a bit lighter than they assumed. They made friends with the head librarian at the Library at Alexandria before its burning and recorded many lost books on their digital devices. And they met some evil figures from history as well with predictable results such as their encounter with Cesar Borgia, the Inquisitor.

The subplot of discovering lost Greek plays and giving them anonymously to a Greek scholar was interesting but McDevitt was not developing that much and I think that's very too bad. I liked that thread very much.

Rather, this is a story of best friends, how they deal with this gift, the search for their father and also a search for a purpose to their lives, which seem pretty mundane after getting to know Columbus or Hemingway or going to parties with Ben Franklin or confronting racism at the march at Selma.

Great insight into history and a realization of how rich we had it and what riches are to come. A must-read!


( )
  James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
Numbered 830 of 900
  kitber | Oct 10, 2016 |
Hmm - not sure whether I'll like this or not
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Jack McDevitt's latest novel titled Time Travelers Never Die does not fall into the author's usual future space travel adventure. An expansion of his earlier short story which appeared in Asimov's under the same title, this novel gives the reader sneak peeks of amazing people, places and times in history - and probable future. But the heart of the tale is an examination of human behavior in the grasp of such technology.

Adrian "Shel" Shelborne is desperate to find his missing father, Michael Shelborne, M.A., PhD., and soon learns of secret time travel devises which belonged to his father. With close friend Dave Dryden, who conveniently yet necessarily happens to be a linguist - you can't go to strange lands without knowing the language, the two men search across time for the missing traveler. But given the vast expanse of time from the beginning of human existence to the immeasurable future, the difficulty of their task is appreciated.

Their journey opens up an endless world of possibilities, and this is where McDevitt inevitably draws in the reader by stimulating the same curiosity as the characters they've come to know. Like the heroes, one can't help but wonder where and when you would go. Would you be as adventurous as Shel and Dave? Would you witness, and in some cases participate in some of the most famous moments in history? Or would you merely hide in the shadows as a voyeur of time? Would you attempt to alter history if you could?

The usual time travel paradoxes of changing the past to alter the future are mentioned in this book, but that fear is usually squelched by the thrill of the ride. Trepidations aside, imagine the potential if one could know which stocks would soar, what team would prevail in the big game or what numbers would win the lottery. Or even more tantalizing, would you want to know your own fate? After all, time travelers are not immortal - right? This is the mystery in which McDevitt addresses with skilled speculation - and draws his title from.

Though Time Travelers Never Die does not fit the mold some are accustomed from Jack McDevitt, it may be one of his most thought provoking works in some time. One can wonder if Adrian Shelborne gets the same attention as some of McDevitt's other serialized characters such as Priscilla Hutchins or Alex Benedict. Only time will tell.
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack McDevittprimary authorall editionscalculated
Frangie, RitaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mauro, TonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They buried him on a gray morning, unseasonably cold, threatening rain.
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Shel and his friend Dave journey through time in search of Shel's missing physicist-father, but make a devastating discovery that changes their lives forever when Shel violates their agreement not to visit the future.

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