The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Jack Finney’s Time and Again never made the best-seller list, but it quickly became a word-of-mouth cult classic. An intriguing tale of time travel back to late nineteenth century New York City, the novel became a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and Murder Ink named it one of the five best mysteries of all time. Over the years, film rights were optioned and plans were made for a Broadway show. Twenty-five years after Time and Again’s debut—and only months before the author’s death—Finney’s much-awaited sequel, From Time to Time, was published.

Simon Morley, the protagonist in both novels, first experiences time travel in 1970. A newly divorced commer-cial artist, Morley is easily persuaded by U.S. Army major Rube Prien to participate in a top secret government-funded project housed in an old Manhattan warehouse. The goal of “the Project” is to test retired Harvard professor of physics E. E. Danziger’s theory that the past still exists and that under certain conditions it can be reached. Danziger has based his theory on Albert Einstein’s metaphor for the experiencing of time—that time is a river, and that the past remains in the bends and curves of that river, out of sight but still in existence.

Morley is chosen to explore Danziger’s premise that in order to create a gateway to the past, one must first become completely immersed in the minutiae of the time selected. The participant must study books, newspapers, and photographs. He or she must dress in appropriate clothing and live the lifestyle of that period. In addition, a place must be found that exists in both the past and the present. In Morley’s case, the setting is an apartment in Manhattan’s famous Dakota building....

(The entire section is 725 words.)