This compilation has a wonderful premise – time
travel – but terrible editing. I've read many time travel stories
and novels, but this is the first attempt at a collection I've ever found,
and after scouring Amazon I doubt there are any others. Unfortunately,
this novel idea didn't quite pan out.
Several of the stories presented here are excellent.
You can't go wrong with such luminaries as Poe and Kipling, nor with
sci-fi geniuses like Asimov, Bradbury, or The Twilight Zone's
Rod Serling. I was also previously familiar with Larry Niven's sci-fi
fantasy and Harry Turtledove's alternate-history writings. I was unfamiliar
with the other 15 storytellers, but several of the other works turned
out to be pretty good.
The biggest problem with the collection, besides several
pretty useless stories, is poor editing. The editor introduces each story
with a paragraph meant to pique your interest – but I learned after
the first one to skip them, as they often reveal crucial plot points.
Short stories are often especially reliant on surprises, many of which
were given away by Adler's introductions. He was also self-absorbed enough
to include one of his own works, a depressing, confusing mess of a story
only marginally concerned with time travel.
Some of the best stories help you overlook the book's
flaws, such as the magnificent Time Travelers Never Die, by
Jack McDevitt, which features a pair of time travelers who secretly meet
the great minds of history just for the joy of it. Robert Sawyer's You
See, But You Do Not Observe is a really cool combination of the
dazzling intellect of Sherlock Holmes and the quantum implications of
Schrodinger's Cat. The book features a nice variety of story length,
with Jack Lewis's eight-page Who's Cribbing and Poe's seven-page Three
Sundays in a Week standing out as quite amusing and clever. Both
Mark Clifton's Star, Bright and Turtledove's The Last Article are
good too, but neither are true time travel stories.
I recommend this book solely to get your hands on the
McDevitt and Sawyer stories. Several others are enjoyable as well, but
there is no way this can be considered a collection of the best time
travel stories. The famous names, displayed prominently on the cover,
set the bar too high for some of the other writers. I left the book with
the strong urge to go back in time and help a new editor swap some of
the worst pieces out.