The Time Traveler's Almanac by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

(10.0/10) Clocking in at just under 950 pages this is a thing of great beauty and quite significant weight.

Book of the Year 2014 (see all)

The Time Traveler’s Almanac is the largest, most definitive collection of time travel stories ever assembled. Gathered into one volume by intrepid chrononauts and world-renowned anthologists Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, here is over a century's worth of literary travels into past and the future. The anthology covers millions of years of Earth's history - from the age of the dinosaurs to strange and fascinating futures, through to the end of Time itself. The Time Traveler’s Almanac will reacquaint readers with beloved classics and introduce them to thrilling contemporary examples of the time travel genre.

The Time Traveler’s Almanac includes stories from Douglas Adams, Isaac Asmiov, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, George RR Martin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Moorcock and, of course, HG Wells.

Prepare yourselves – the latest anthology from husband and wife team Ann and Jeff VanderMeer is a beast. Clocking in at just under 950 pages this is a thing of great beauty and quite significant weight and looks absolutely stunning. I don’t usually focus on hardbacks, being more interested in the story than the look of the book on my shelf, but for this you need to make an exception – if you buy the eBook you are missing out on such a joy it would frankly be criminal. Even with the dust jacket taken off, the silver inlay on the hard cover itself is very pretty, and inside the same butterfly and cogs design is used to separate out the four sections of the book. This is a publication with clearly a lot of time and effort spent on it.

In the preface, Ann and Jeff comment that ‘never before has there been an anthology that demonstrated the full depth and breadth of the time travel story’ and they have rectified this by pulling together 65 short stories that span the history of time travel in fantasy fiction, with classic authors such as Michael Moorcock, William Gibson, Ursula K Le Guin and HG Wells rubbing shoulders with a vast array of more contemporary authors. The stories have been split into four sections – experiments, reactionaries and revolutionaries, mazes and traps and communiqués – interspaced with short comment pieces on top tips for time travellers, time travel in theory and practice, fashion for time travellers and music for time travellers written in the style of a ‘how to’ guide, which is both amusing and a nice addition to the stories.

I have to admit, I have only just begun reading the first of the short stories that this anthology contains, but with Christmas looming and people beginning to buy gifts, I felt that something needed to go up on this site about it now, with a more in-depth discussion later. This is the perfect gift for fantasy fans. They don’t need to be particularly interested in time travel, but this is precisely the sort of sumptuous book which you buy to either treat yourself or somebody else. This tome demands a giant armchair, a roaring log fire, several hours’ peace and quiet and a glass of mulled wine to hand.

The Time Traveller's Almanac edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
Hardback: 948 pages
Publisher: Head of Zeus, 1 Nov 2013

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