REVIEW SUMMARY: 4 standouts + 12 good stories – 6 Meh = a good collection overall.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of 22 stories about time travel.
PROS: 16 stories good or better, including the first alternate history story I actually liked!
CONS: 6 mediocre or less stories. It was a stretch to pigeonhole some of these stories as time travel tales. The story introductions offered very little and in some cases spoiled the story. D’oh!
BOTTOM LINE: A mixed bag, quality-wise, but the good outweighs the bad overall.
I’m always dubious when a book contains a subtitle like Time Machines does, in this case “The Best Time Travel Stories Ever Written”. Just about everyone has their own opinion of what the best stories are. (“Hello? Where’s Heinleins ‘All You Zombies…’”) Even assuming an editor’s personal choices do resonate with a large majority of readers, story inclusion is still hindered by obtaining reprint permissions. Still, I guess it sells more copies than “The Best Time Travel Stories for Which We Could Obtain the Reprint Rights!”
My dubiousness (MS Word tells me that’s actually a word. Go figure.) was proved somewhat valid as some of the stories contained herein were of questionable value. Sadly, one of those was by the late, great Isaac Asimov. Worse for the book, the editor’s story introductions offered very little and oftentimes they even spoiled the story! Gah! Eventually, I came to read the story intros after I read the story or I’d just skip them altogether.
Fortunately, there were other longer and better stories that pulled this collection’s overall rating to land in between good and very good, even a couple of them could only marginally be classified as time travel stories. Standout stories included “The Third Level” by Jack Finney, “Star, Bright” by Mark Clifton, “Bad Timing” by Molly Brown, “You See But You Do Not Observe” by Robert Sawyer, “Fire Watch” by Connie Willis and “The Last Article” by Harry Turtledove.
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