This book is written by a CalTech graduate and MIT physics professor. It is basically a collection of short stories, except none of the stories actually has a plot. Each story is a fictional dream that a young Einstein had about time. Each dream is set in a different universe in which some aspect of time is slightly different from how we understand it to be and each story is a glimpse into that universe. Most of the stories are actually very interesting in a thought-provoking kind of way.
This is not a book that you can read from cover to cover in one sitting. You have to take it slowly and read one chapter/story at a time. Then just sit back and let it sink in. It's a very thought provoking book. I loved it. It's my absolute favorite book.
As someone with time interests and issues, this book spoke to me. It's not a sequential story; it's tiny speculative, detailed ideas about time and how it may or may not work. I spotted the plots from several novels and stories in here (Flashforward, Hyperion, Changing Planes, Before I Go to Sleep, the short story "Benjamin Button," and Ray Bradbury's short story "Frost and Fire," etc. - actually a lot of Bradbury's distilled ideas appear here).
The author presents these as thoughts Einstein might have had as he sat in the patent office, waiting for his day to begin. I can imagine that might have happened; each description has a dream-like quality to it.
What I enjoyed most about these speculations was the author's way of rendering them clear to the reader by offering both the bad (different) and the good (familiar) of each scenario. I have much to think about. And cry over. And yes, one or two, especially if you have children, will make you cry. Perhaps one of the saddest, not dealing particularly with our conception of the passage of time is best demonstrated in this quote from the amnesiac view of time : "Late at night, the wife and husband do not linger at the table to discuss the day's activities, their children's school, the bank account. Instead, they smile at one another, feel the warming blood, the ache between the legs as when they met the first time fifteen years ago. They find their bedroom, stumble past family photographs they do not recognize, and pass the night in lust. For it is only habit and memory that dulls the physical passion. Without memory, each night is the first night, each morning is the first morning, each kiss and touch are the first." If that doesn't make you despair about time, nothing will.
Gosh, this was a good read. It is funny and beautifully written. I just can't praise this book enough-it is so breath taking to read. I would read it over and over again just to be sure i retained everything i read. A book to be spoken of.
I finished this in one day. The writing is evocative and lyrical. Each essay presents a different concept of time by illustrating how it would affect human behavior. In many cases, they illustrate how people actually view time and how that view can be detrimental.
This one was beyond me. I enjoyed the writing in the moment most of the time, but for me it didn't hang together or go anywhere or in fact make sense. Very dreamlike, I guess, but there must be a huge disconnect between Einstein's dreams and mine. I did finish it, but I gave it away to one of my more mystical-minded friends - whose husband reminded her that she'd read it before. Forgetting that is not a good sign.
People like this? A book of vignettes dealing with "time" and different "time dimensions". A waste of my time is more like it. The author was teaching physics and writing at MIT when published. Hard to believe it found a publisher.
This is unique, clever, and a light read, but it is a work of fiction, and though the author seems to have a clear understanding of Einstein's theories, this book does not impart that understanding to the reader. It is imaginative, but it is more entertaining than educational.
How would Einstein have thought through a subject in order to ascertain the hidden secrets which he will turn into a theory, and that into a technical paper? This seems to be the contents of this book. An attempt to draw the reader into the mind of Einstein.
This book is small in size and short in chapter and length. And yet, I found it much too long. After a few chapters comparing various worlds and how time might behave in them I had to skip to the end. The conclusion is worse than the process.
Overall, I fail to enjoy the academic nature of this book. I understand that the author is (was) an MIT instructor in Physics, but in my opinion the extended study of so many possible variances showed them all to be implausible, and cheated the reader out of having his/her own thoughts on the subject.
In short, the actual time consumed in the character's life is about 2 hours. I must say that 2 hours is a generous portion of my life to devote to this book.