Did illustrator Si Morley really step out of his 20th century New York City apartment one night – right into the winter of 1882?
The U.S. Government believed he did, especially when Si returned with a portfolio of brand-new sketches and tintype photos of a world that no longer existed … or did it?
Simon Morley, an advertising sketch artist, is approached by U.S. Army Major Ruben Prien to participate in a secret government project. He is taken to a huge warehouse on the West Side of Manhattan, where he views what seem to be movie sets, with people acting on them. It seems this is a project to learn whether it is feasible to send people back into the past by what amounts to self-hypnosis—whether, by convincing oneself that one is in the past, not the present, one can make it so.
Published in 1970, Time and Again is one of the greatest and most famous time travel books ever written, and deservedly so. Finney’s time travel premise is that if one gets into the “mindset” so to speak – wears the clothes, speaks the dialect, uses only those things that were available in 1882 in New York City, then the black hole will open up and transport one back to that time. Which is exactly what happened to Simon Morley as he sat and lived in his government rented apartment overlooking Central Park.
Indeed, Central Park itself is a major theme within this book, as it seems to be the clock around which New York City was able to judge its progress over the years. Simon Morley does have many adventures within the Manhattan of 1882, and as he rents lodging in lower Manhattan, he meets and falls in love. Thus Finney sets the scene for the conflict of love and time travel, forcing his protagonist to make a decision between different time periods.
Written with a charming magic of historical detail and illustrated with photos “taken by Morley” which are actually just historical photos of old New York. Highly recommended!
Companion Read: Replay by Ken Grimwood