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Hazards of Time Travel

by Joyce Carol Oates

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3942365,668 (3.14)30
A recklessly idealistic girl tests the limits of her oppressively controlled, dystopian world and is punished by being sent back in time to Wainscotia, Wisconsin, eighty years in the past, only to fall fatefully in love with a fellow exile.
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» See also 30 mentions

English (22)  Spanish (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I love time travel stories, including this, but I just don't get why she have to go through all that sh*tty things and then it ends that way. I don't get it. ( )
  jessiewinterspring | Jan 30, 2024 |
Wow. This is easily one of the scaries near-future dystopias I've read so far. It reminds me of Cecelia Ahern's books Flawed and Perfect, but with a much more evil dystopia. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 15, 2023 |
two thirds were about as subtle as a two by four and the last third was inscrutable. an unsatisfying read. ( )
  austinburns | Dec 16, 2021 |
Can Joyce Carol Oates Disappoint?

Sadly, the answer is yes. When it seemed all these years that Joyce Carol Oates had few limitations, that she could tackle any number of topics, from race relations to neuroscience, we discover she has one. What Margaret Atwood terms speculative fiction seems to have stumped her.

Her newest, The Hazards of Time Travel, has little to do with time travel other than as a plot device to set up a pale tale of loneliness, self-discovery, and romance. Yes, time travel is a tricky business, what with all of its inherent pitfalls, and, true, some authors have successfully dispensed with any logical or illogical rationale (think the very successful and appealing The Time Traveler’s Wife, or the wondrously rewarding Life After Life). However, these stories offered the reader something else to hold their interest, like plot, characters, family, and locale.

As for the dystopian bits, these really are either poorly thought out, or JCO failed to include her background sketches for the near future, twenty years hence, totalitarian USA. We certainly get her riff on current affairs and the scary tolerance of, and by some desire for, authoritarian government, as well as her pointed observation that affairs can head south in a mere political blink of the eye. She, however, aside from the current situation, gives us little context, and, let’s face it, readers of dystopian fiction adore fleshed out context. For certain, the little she reveals of our near future is scary, but there isn’t enough of it, what there is feels a tad ridiculous, and worst, sorry to say, cartoonish and clichéd, as in “This will make your head explode.”

As for her characterization of the protagonists, Adriane/Mary Ellen and Wolfman, the former strikes a reader as engaging as brittle glass and the latter as too self-absorbed to be the target of anybody’s affection, even a disoriented seventeen-year-old girl’s. The strongest emotion readers, other than those thoroughly attuned to the pining heart of a naive child and an unhappy adult, is indifference.

If all these were not sufficient, JCO has employed a few of her more irritating writing tendencies, in particular here the distance she creates between narrator and subject that stimulates little more than an emotion of boredom, combined with a very annoying constant repetition of a character’s full name that, in a word, is maddening.

Even JCO’s most faithful and forgiving readers may have a problem with this effort. In the novel, Oates includes a nod to virtual reality and virtual worlds (partly in an unsuccessful attempt at introducing ambiguity, something perhaps better left to the real master of this technique, Philip K. Dick). This will lead readers to wonder where the real JCO lurks, for The Hazards of Time Travel must have been authored by an imperfect avatar. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Can Joyce Carol Oates Disappoint?

Sadly, the answer is yes. When it seemed all these years that Joyce Carol Oates had few limitations, that she could tackle any number of topics, from race relations to neuroscience, we discover she has one. What Margaret Atwood terms speculative fiction seems to have stumped her.

Her newest, The Hazards of Time Travel, has little to do with time travel other than as a plot device to set up a pale tale of loneliness, self-discovery, and romance. Yes, time travel is a tricky business, what with all of its inherent pitfalls, and, true, some authors have successfully dispensed with any logical or illogical rationale (think the very successful and appealing The Time Traveler’s Wife, or the wondrously rewarding Life After Life). However, these stories offered the reader something else to hold their interest, like plot, characters, family, and locale.

As for the dystopian bits, these really are either poorly thought out, or JCO failed to include her background sketches for the near future, twenty years hence, totalitarian USA. We certainly get her riff on current affairs and the scary tolerance of, and by some desire for, authoritarian government, as well as her pointed observation that affairs can head south in a mere political blink of the eye. She, however, aside from the current situation, gives us little context, and, let’s face it, readers of dystopian fiction adore fleshed out context. For certain, the little she reveals of our near future is scary, but there isn’t enough of it, what there is feels a tad ridiculous, and worst, sorry to say, cartoonish and clichéd, as in “This will make your head explode.”

As for her characterization of the protagonists, Adriane/Mary Ellen and Wolfman, the former strikes a reader as engaging as brittle glass and the latter as too self-absorbed to be the target of anybody’s affection, even a disoriented seventeen-year-old girl’s. The strongest emotion readers, other than those thoroughly attuned to the pining heart of a naive child and an unhappy adult, is indifference.

If all these were not sufficient, JCO has employed a few of her more irritating writing tendencies, in particular here the distance she creates between narrator and subject that stimulates little more than an emotion of boredom, combined with a very annoying constant repetition of a character’s full name that, in a word, is maddening.

Even JCO’s most faithful and forgiving readers may have a problem with this effort. In the novel, Oates includes a nod to virtual reality and virtual worlds (partly in an unsuccessful attempt at introducing ambiguity, something perhaps better left to the real master of this technique, Philip K. Dick). This will lead readers to wonder where the real JCO lurks, for The Hazards of Time Travel must have been authored by an imperfect avatar. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oates, Joyce Carolprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crowe, MichelleDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A self is simply a device for representing a functionally unified system of responses.
R. F. Skinner, Science and Human Behavior
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For Stig Björkman,
and for
Charlie Gross
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They would not have come for me, naively I drew their attention to me.
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A recklessly idealistic girl tests the limits of her oppressively controlled, dystopian world and is punished by being sent back in time to Wainscotia, Wisconsin, eighty years in the past, only to fall fatefully in love with a fellow exile.

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