THE ACCIDENTAL TIME MACHINE | JOE HALDEMAN
First published: 2007 | Takes place: 2058 and . . . well, it's complicated
Riffing on H.G. Wells's time-travel opus, The Forever War author (and part-time Cambridge resident) Joe Haldeman takes us to MIT in the year 2058, where hapless grad student Matt Fuller inadvertently creates a time machine — and a rather useless one at that, as it can only travel forward in ever-increasing intervals.
His bumbling experiments send him to ever-weirder future Cambridges. 2074 is more technologically advanced than Matt's time yet still recognizable: cars run on fuel cells, and kids listen to music through dermal patches. But when Matt skips to the year 2252, the president has convinced the public that Christ had returned in a smite-y mood, prompting the POTUS to lead most of the Eastern Seaboard — including Massachusetts — in a holy war against the godless heathens to the west.
Now, laser-beam-shooting satellites ("the Lord's Avenging Angels") patrol the borders, while the Luddite society within has atrophied into a self-imposed Dark Ages. MIT has become the Massachusetts Institute of Theosophy, an educational monastery where students take courses like "Interpretive Glossolalia" and "Blood Covenant." Wanting to get the hell out of there, Matt cranks the machine to fast-forward, landing him in a future of omniscient machines and talking bears. (Luckily, he's logged enough time with MIT undergrads that none of this fazes him.)
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