What about your least favorite time travel book?

DiscussãoTime Travel, Alternate Histories and Parallel Worlds

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What about your least favorite time travel book?

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Out 2, 2008, 1:31 am

I read the thread on favorite time travel books and heartily agreed with many of you. (LOVE Replay and Time Traveler's Wife!) But what about your least favorite? This genre is a favorite of mine so I have become particular about what makes a time travel novel successful.

I'll start the list of least favorite with Discipline by Paco Ahlgren. Pacing was an issue; I do believe I fell asleep at some points and lack of action is not good in a book on time travel! The twist or "payoff" at the end didn't justify the 400-something pages I had just slogged through.

Set 4, 2009, 8:12 am

My least favorite would have to be Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove. It is basically The Ugly American does ancient Rome. Just awful story of modern woman who has to tell everyone she meets in the past how awful everything is, how wrong they are , and spends her time between being horrified and smug.

Set 21, 2009, 12:16 am

I actually enjoyed Household Gods. The main character takes a long time to grow up and realize a lot of her preconceptions were mistaken, but I think its a much more realistic portrayal of what a person would actually do if they travelled back in time. Far more likely that nothing happens beyond living life than becoming Jean Laborde.

Set 21, 2009, 12:45 am

It is a realistic portrayal of a stupid arrogant person, and she would have been unlikely to live as long as she did.

Set 21, 2009, 4:00 pm

I completely loathed, despised, detested and abominated Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

After reading this idiocy, I succumbed to the pleas of an LT friend and attempted To Say Nothing of the Dog, which I liked even less than the first one. I lasted 27pp and threw it away.

Editado: Set 21, 2009, 4:28 pm

#5 - why was that (re Doomsday Book)?


Set 21, 2009, 6:34 pm

>6 john257hopper: I did not respond favorably to the writing, I found the set-up tediously overextended, and the plague(s) irksomely conveniently mirroring each other just that last bit too much.

Too far to go for too little reward. I accept that many others feel passionately but oppositely (ugly word, think I made it up) to me, and more power to 'em. I won't be competing for the last copy of the book with any fan.

Editado: Set 22, 2009, 8:30 am

My two least favourites are 1632 and Outlander. I couldn't bring myself to finish either of them.

Set 22, 2009, 10:58 am

Outlander suffered from tedious overextension to me, too. 1632 I remember reading and liking well enough, but I can't now remember why. Seems unlikely that I'd enjoy a re-read, based on the synopsis.

Set 22, 2009, 1:33 pm

#7 - I enjoyed it, the Medieval chapters much more than the contemporary/slightly in the future ones. I thought the Medieval characters (esp. the village priest) were well drawn and the growing sense of doom well described. I've never tried any of her others.

Set 22, 2009, 2:38 pm

>10 john257hopper: I wouldn't be the one to recommend her work to you. I thought the medieval characters were slightly anachronistic, but not in any awful way...just that no one grabbed me, from the narratrix on down.

What about alternate history novels? Any of those appeal to you? I'm always recommending Islandia to people, its portrait of an agrarian society has always appealed to me.

Set 23, 2009, 8:20 am

I like "alternate historical fiction" and have a number in my collection (see the relevant tag in my LT catalogue). Particular favourites are Fatherland by Robert Harris and Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson and Harry Turtledove's works.

Set 23, 2009, 8:53 am

For me, I do like the premise of alternate history, time travel, alternate worlds etc.

But I don't like the ones who set their short story or novel in a war, or as a result of a war being won by the 'other side' (and being set soon after)

The odd thing is, I don't mind some military sf.
But I don't find much compelling in books that cover fighting or war detail from earth history - even with the 'twist'.

For that reason, an anthology I bought called Roads Not Taken just didn't engage me. john257hopper would probably like it more. It's a shame as the book sounded appealing to me, just wasn't when I read it.

(If touchstones don't work, the url is here: http://www.librarything.com/work/188060/book/16174211

Set 23, 2009, 9:23 am

I disliked Harry Harrison's Stars and Stripes Forever so much that I'm mildly embarrassed to admit having read it. I'm even more embarrassed to admit having read the second book in the series, though I learned my lesson at that point and have avoided Harrison since.

Robert Conroy's 1901 was bad in some similar ways, but merely bad, not dreadful.

Out 3, 2009, 3:35 am

For me there is no doubt. My least favorite timetravel story is Timescape by Benford. I always finish the books I start, but this became an exception. It dragged on and on and never got anywhere. I got within 80 pages of the ending and had to abandon the reading project. It felt like dying slowly.

Editado: Out 4, 2009, 11:35 am

I have a new least-favorite time travel book: Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove. Bad, bad, bad.

The time-travel aspect was nicely handled. The POV character was a sanctimonious, self-righteous sow, sent back to the second century CE, and became not one whit less sanctimonious or self-righteous. Why the inhabitants of Carnuntum failed to avail themselves of the crucifixion option is a mystery for the ages. I searched my lumber pile for big enough pieces at several points, forgetting you can't actually crucify a fictional character. Bummer.

Out 4, 2009, 2:46 pm

#16 - I have that book waiting to be read on my shelf. I like other Turtledove I have read, but maybe will leave this one until last....

Out 5, 2009, 5:56 pm

>17 john257hopper: I would encourage you to leave it. But at the very least, leave it for last!

Editado: Abr 8, 2010, 9:28 pm

I'm glad that I am not the only one who didn't like Household Gods, so much so that I didn't even finish it. I am also NOT a fan of Outlander, though I passed it on to my mother and she has become a huge Diana Gabaldon fan, so I guess it is a matter of tase.

I love Doomsday book and To Say Nothing of the Dog.

Jul 8, 2010, 11:07 am

I'm struggling to get into Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain so at the moment that is my least favourite time travel book.

Nov 23, 2010, 2:25 pm

#15 -- ditto that! Timescape was certainly tedious.

Jan 16, 2011, 4:36 pm

Richardderus - well I have read Household Gods now - see my review on this site.

Jun 4, 2011, 10:27 am

I disliked Doomsday book.

While I can quite like time travel / portal fantasy stuff, I tend to strongly dislike any that veers into what I'd tend to call "temporal colonialism", that is, characters from more "advanced" settings stealing the show by sole virtue of anachronic knowledge, while being otherwise poorly characterized, or plain boring and uninteresting. The settings also tend to get poor treatment and detailing, their main function amounting to being "backward" enough that the heroes can work "wonders" through means perfectly mundane for them.

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was the exception as Twain lampoons his own main character almost as hard as the arthurian court he's thrown at.

Jun 4, 2011, 11:43 am

>23 Jarandel: AMEN! Can I get a witness!!

Sorry, Southern upbringing recrudesced for a moment. But oh boy howdy do I agree with you! My review of Household Gods said the same sort of thing, only not as eloquently quotably. ("Temporal colonialism" has entered my vocabulary, and thanks for the phrase!)

John257hopper wasn't any better pleased with that one than I was...his somewhat less scathingly dismissive review is a must read.

Jun 5, 2011, 9:47 am

#24 - thanks, Richard!

#20 - have also read this recently and was disappointed by it - also reviewed here.

Jun 5, 2011, 11:35 am

John, have you picked up any of the Turtledove "War That Came Early" books? I'm not the most fervent of Turtledovians, in fact to the point of snorting derisively when someone mentions that aliens-in-WWII crapola (sorry if you're a fan, but *blech*), but this series seems to me to have promise. I'm just a bit tentative when it comes to ol' Har. I'd appreciate an informed opinion, should you have one lying about.

Jun 10, 2011, 7:17 am

#26 - I do rather like his World War series, especially the depiction of an alien mode of thinking and the way the invasion forces humans to challenge old assumptions and rivalries. Some interesting characters on both human and the Race sides. I have read the original 4 novels, but not the follow ups.

I haven't got or read the War that Came early series but I am sure I will give it a try.

Editado: Jun 25, 2011, 12:28 pm

The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold. A gay fantasy with one time-travel idea that the author milks for all it's worth. Hated it.

Nov 30, 2011, 11:20 am

Although I enjoyed a few bits and pieces of it, the overall effect on me of Jack Finney's From Time to Time was underwhelming and anticlimatic.

Fev 22, 2012, 7:21 pm

I agree, I thought the Finney was stupid, especially the pictures. And the attempt to "explain" the TT process failed. I've written a number of TT books and the best advice I ever received when I was starting out was "Never try to explain the unexplainable." My T Traveler was able to do it because his father and grandfather could do it. End of story.

Out 29, 2012, 9:25 am

Tim Power is a wrter I admire but I hated his Three Days to Never

Out 29, 2012, 11:50 pm

Guys , I have to put my 2 cents in for Domesday Boook by Connie Willis. After all the great reviews I thought it would be great, but it has to be the most diappointing book I have read in a long time (I mean unfinished). For a book supposedly written in the near future, I have to admit I was puzzled that no-one had a mobile phone or a train timetable. I think she was channeling an enid blyton book and it should be renamed , the Famous five go to the middle ages .....with lashing of ginger beer all round.

Dez 31, 2012, 11:46 pm

Honestly, none - I've never met a time travel novel I didn't enjoy.

Mar 5, 2013, 5:43 am

>14 daschaich: Testify! I only read the first half of the first book - you don't have to go down to the sewage farm with a spoon to know you aren't going to like the taste - and realised my intellegence was being insulted. Racism is still racism even when previously good authors do it.
And this was the guy who wrote The Stainless Steel Rat! Was it a bet or blackmail?

Set 24, 2014, 6:12 am

My least favourite so far has been Hollow World, mainly because there isn't much time travel at all. Just one trip and then a story about an alternative society.