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Time and Again (1970)

by Jack Finney

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Jack Finney's Time and Again (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,6351282,553 (3.92)213
Since it was first published in 1970, Time and Again has become a truly timeless cult classic with a vast and loyal following. This 25th anniversary edition, filled with its original unique period illustrations, is being published to coincide with its long-awaited sequel, From Time to Time. Time and Again will soon be a major motion picture produced and directed by Robert Redford.… (more)
  1. 80
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (infiniteletters)
  2. 80
    Replay by Ken Grimwood (Kichererbse, browner56)
    browner56: Both of these are well-written stories that deal with the concept of time travel in an interesting way.
  3. 71
    11/22/63 by Stephen King (zwelbast)
  4. 40
    Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (bnbookgirl)
  5. 40
    The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier (sanddancer)
    sanddancer: Time travel books involving journeys back in time.
  6. 40
    To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (Kichererbse)
  7. 20
    Dreamland by Kevin Baker (bnbookgirl)
  8. 20
    The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (sturlington)
  9. 10
    The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  10. 10
    Time on My Hands by Peter Delacorte (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Two very similar books about travelling back in time to a vividly-imagined past, and the problems of changing history...
  11. 00
    The Mevrouw Who Saved Manhattan: A Novel of New Amsterdam by Bill Greer (Manthepark)
    Manthepark: Travel back even further in time to when the Dutch settled New York. An imaginative, authentic and funny novel.
  12. 01
    Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)

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» See also 213 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Three and a half chapters in and it was still setting up the story which is so dated I just cant' stand it. I'm done. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
(It seems the 'Insert book/author' module is broken at the moment, or is it just a problem on my side?)

This book was mentioned by Stephen King as inspiration for his 11/22/63 novel about the murder on JFK. I read the Dutch translation and found it absolutely amazing, as you can read here. I talked a bit about it with my former superior at work and before he retired, he bought me Finney's book. A very thoughtful gesture. I was positively surprised. :)


Finney's style is of course different from King's, but both authors tried to bring their stories to life in a way that makes the reader not only have first-row seats, but have him/her almost experience the story in an active way, like a guide showing you around town.

Finney's story is about a graphical designer seeking a new direction in life. That's when he meets up with a celebrity (former soccer player, if my memory is right) who invites him to join a secret government experiment involving the past. Simon Morley is to, in general, set aright what was wrong. Only, Simon has something else in mind, a different period: 1882, New York.

I won't go into full details, but it involves certain words, a blue envelop and at least two important people. Si manages to convince the people behind the experiment, who are also conducting experiments with other volunteers/participants for other places and times (in the past, of course).

Si is giving a place to live in the Dakota, a large house containing several rooms/apartments. The building has been around for several decades, was already there back in 1882. How he travels back to the past is unknown. Or rather, he imagines the surroundings being different, et voilà, he's in 1882. In the meantime, his doings are being supervised and checked against history's stream of events, to find out if Si's actions in 1882 (will) have an effect on his own present. Each time he does something, on later occasions actually interfering with life and people over there, the impact is minimal, close to zero. In the end, as Si's and Julia's lives are in danger (false accusations, but the police don't care about that), Si imagines his own time and *beam me up, Scotty*, they both have escaped in a very easy way. This is more advanced than Stark Trek, for which you need devices and computers to make teleportation possible. That's how advanced 1882 already was. *cough*

But yeah, it's a bit too easy, no? Just imagining a period in time and you're there. It would put a lot of people out of business and would be detrimental to solving crimes, for example. Criminals could escape as never before. Anyway, Si and Julia experiencing New York in modern times, Julia taking it all in with awe and amazement. Except for stuff like war and alike. Going from 1882 to many decades later, skipping WW I and II, and technological advancements is of course one way to cause a culture-clash. And apparently, Julia also is capable of the trick Si uses to transport himself to the past and back. In fact, she admits she's better at it than him. Eh, what? She lives in an era that is a lot less free than ours today, can't think of this escape route when they have to flee the cops, yet uses that ability like she's always done it, with no difficulty and goes back to her own time to save the day and inform the police of how it truly went, who set the building on fire, who killed Jake Pickering (i.e. Pickering killed Carmody, then became Carmody to escape his sentence).

Of course, as his self-chosen mission becomes more important and time is of the essence, Si has no choice but to really live a life there. That's when he meets Julia, soon-to-be Mrs Pickering (Jake). Si will try to stop this, because of what he knows about Jake Pickering and his dealing with Mr Carmody.

As I wrote above, Jack Finney did a very good job describing the life of New York in 1882. A lot was different back then: civil rights, women's rights, the Statue of Liberty wasn't built, the police worked in more basic circumstances (compared to contemporary times), people wore different clothes, had different activities during the day or as entertainment, and so on and so on. Industry was also not as we know it today. There weren't any auto mobiles yet. Traffic-lights were also not invented yet, let alone electricity; gas was the fuel for light and you had to be economic.

The story itself is rather good, I must say, despite it sometimes being a bit slow or tedious. However, reading stories that are set in roughly the same era - as is the case with 'The Adventure of the Six Napoleons and Other Cases' (stories with Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson) by Arthur Conan Doyle - doesn't help with the appreciation. But, as good as it may be, I did find King's 11/22/63 the better of the two, because of the style and maybe also the period. Maybe one has more affinity with events that are less far in the past.

I like how the book contains photographs and drawings as a way of enrichment. It helps to bring that period to life, to imagine what it must have been like at the time, compared to our streets and buildings today. However, as it's all in grey or black and white - yes, I know, colour photography was invented only much later -, it also gives the scenery and story a bit of a dull and depressing touch.


In short: recommended? Yes and no. I haven't read much about the 1800's or around, also because it's not really a period that speaks to me, not a period in which I would like to have lived. But I do like the setup.

One better, more detailed review is Joe Valdez's: see here.. ( )
  TechThing | Jan 22, 2021 |
Wonderful time-travel fiction first published in 1970.
This book was in a list of the best time-travel books (https://coolthingschicago.com/best-time-travel-books/) and had also been mentioned by Stephen King in an afterword in 11/22/63, so I was expecting something good.
I generally don't read reviews before I read a book, but in this case I came across something from a disgruntled reader, saying that the time-travel mechanism was so fatuous that he couldn't finish the book. I feel sorry for that reviewer. The time travel mechanism IS a little lame, but all such mechanisms are lame - time travel does not exist, and cannot exist. But time travel in fiction gives authors so many tools to create a special category of fiction, that I, for one, don't focus too much on how they pretend to achieve the impossible.
The modern era of this book - roughly 1960s New York - seems very dated - the attitudes, the environment, the casual sexism and racism, make the reader realise how much the world has improved.
The time travel era of the book - 1880s New York is painted in great detail (so much detail, that I concluded that Finney wanted to use every last speck of his historical research). But both New Yorks seemed real to the reader, and the characters in each era also seemed very real.
The plot seemed slow to develop (while Finney did his history dissertation) but a satisfyingly interesting and unexpected conclusion was developed and delivered.
In the sign of a well enjoyed book, I was a little sad to turn the last page. ( )
  mbmackay | Dec 4, 2020 |
The first half of the book is exquisite detail of 1880s New York City with some 1960s New York City thrown in as the framing storyline. Interestingly, that framing storyline—at the beginning of the novel—could have easily been 21st century New York City. (The references in the penultimate scenes of the book, though, root it quite firmly in the cold war of the 1960s.) Near the dead center of the book, the narrative takes off like a rocket and hardly takes a breath until the closing sentences.

The excessive description is tedious and perhaps only appreciated by an aficionado of the era. I found myself reading quickly through parts of it and having to back-track to pick up important plot details. Still, I'm happy to have read it. ( )
  dltj | Sep 19, 2020 |
Cool time traveling concept, awesome description of the past, but too long. 250 pages in and I'm less than half way through. I'm guess I'm not patient enough. ( )
  bsmashers | Aug 1, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
Time and Again sends out a huge valentine to the past. It's nostalgic and there's something deliciously comforting and escapist in its promise of a New York Eden.

» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Finney, Jackprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carr, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jeschke, WolfgangHerausgebersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moll, CharlesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Niffenegger, AudreyForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In shirt-sleeves, the way I generally worked, I sat sketching a bar of soap taped to an upper corner of my drawing board.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Since it was first published in 1970, Time and Again has become a truly timeless cult classic with a vast and loyal following. This 25th anniversary edition, filled with its original unique period illustrations, is being published to coincide with its long-awaited sequel, From Time to Time. Time and Again will soon be a major motion picture produced and directed by Robert Redford.

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