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Where does time go, when it passes?

Tags: Danish Me Review Science fiction

Review of Let time pass (Lad tiden gå), Svend Åge Madsen, from 1986.

Outline: Professor Jeyde is studying the physics of time (kronophysics), and has an exciting theory. His young assistant, Johanne, helps him. And as it must be when a crazy inventor has a new theory, mysterious things begin to happen.

Is it science fiction? As our good man Jeyde actually builds a functioning timemachine (with a limited repertoire: it can do one thing, rewind everything 23 days), and the timemachine is central to the story, yes.

Is it good? Beginning with the basics: I was sucked into the story, and had a hard time remembering I also wanted to review it. So, it's well written. But there are also good themes, and an interesting variation on "inventor + assistant". And when enough timetravels had occured, I wanted to make a detailed map, and find out exactly what the differences were, and how the timelines affected each other.

When you have a timemachine, capable of "resetting" all of the world, it's obvious using it for one thing: the stuff you didn't do right the first time, you can redo. At one point Johanne is chasing the optimal life. And the whole book is full of repetitions on this account -- also repetitions in language, and things not directly related to the plot. And it's always an interesting thought, "if I could do this again, I would ...". A very human thought.

The good professor has a problem, because you can't directly remember, that you're going through a space of time for the second time, and therefore it's hard to prove, that his machine works. So there's a lot of strong experiments, to see whether you remember intense pain, and intense love, across the lines.

The professor just wants to prove his theory, but Johanne wants to (ab)use the machine to the fullest. And there's no way around it: e.g., she stops cleaning up (everything can be cleaned up with a push of a button) and she thinks the world is unreal. The end is near.

The experiments of both the professor and Johanne are interesting to follow. How much does it take to remember across time? How little does it take to want another chance?

Another aspect when reviewing science fiction / timetravel is: credibility. And in this case there's a fine balance: there's said enough about "the nature of time" for me to buy it, and not too much -- it shouldn't be too boring and technical.

And before we're done, a few quotes.

We will have to let time pass, and give up our dreams of eternity. (p. 51)

Once there was no life, Sverre explained. There were fragmented minutes, fragmented hours, fragmented days, and people couldn't see from one moment to the next. Only when the story was created were times chained together into a meaning, and life was created.
But the world is just fragmented minutes, fragmented hours, fragmented days, Johanne complained.
Exactly, exactly right, and this was why he had to write his novel, he explained. To heal time. (p. 133)

This is an exciting version of something, I've seen before. (I love timetravel.) Therefore I want to both recommend this book, and read some more books by Svend Åge Madsen.

Created: 2 June, 2009 - Last changed: 2 June, 2009 - Comments (0)