Let’s talk time

Sunday morning saw us fall back from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time, setting our clocks back an hour. It reignited the biannual discussion in my house about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of time change, the history of time, the whole shebang. With time on my mind, I pulled together these books for your consideration, with topics ranging from time travel, to reincarnation, to the chance to live your life a second time.

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick is a reflection on the “flow” of time and time travel as pondered by poets, philosphers, physicists, and television characters, from  H.G. Wells to Jules Verne, Philip K. Dick to Doctor Who.

In Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, time travel is possible and is mainly used by historians to travel back to the time they’re studying. In 2050 Oxford, Kivrin is getting ready to travel back to the Middle Ages, when a glitch sends her back too far and she ends up in a town being ravaged by the Bubonic Plague. At home in Oxford, her colleagues are battling their own virulent illness and are struggling to reach Kivrin.

Continuing with time travel, Kindred by Octavia Butler follows Dana, a 26-year-old African-American woman living in 1970s California who finds herself suddenly, and repeatedly, transported to the antebellum South and the planation where her ancestors lived. Each time Dana’s trips become longer and more dangerous, until she’s unsure if she’ll die in the past before she ever has a chance to live in the present.

Let’s talk about reincarnation! The Incarnations by Susan Barker spans 1,000 years of Chinese history and six shared lifetimes. In Beijing, 2008, Wang Jun works as a taxi driver. He begins receiving letters from a soul mate who claims they have shared six lifetimes together, and vividly describes each life and relationship in detail, from the Tang dynasty in 632 CE, to the Red Guard in 1966 and up to the present day. Who is this letter writer, and are they telling the truth?

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch asks the question – what would you do if you could change a few key decisions in your life? Scientist Jason Dessen is leading a calm life with his wife and son when he’s kidnapped – by himself, from an alternate reality. This alternate version of himself never married, but instead created a box that can transport one to alternate universes. Will Jason get back to his original life?

How does the amount of time you’ve lived change the way your life looks? In the graphic novel Daytripper, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba present a series of chapters in the life of Bras de Olivas Dominguez, a Brazilian writer. At the end of each chapter, Bras dies – at age 36; at age 21, at age 82; at age 6 – and a short obituary sums up his life.

We’ll end with some hard science. Your Brain Is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time by neuroscientist Dean Buonomano is an exploration of how time works in the mind, and of the way the human brain constructs our sense of chronological flow in ways essential to evolution and survival.

~ posted by Andrea G.

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