Matt Fuller was a graduate student at MIT. He invented a time machine, though he thought he was building a gravitron calibrator. But something he did caused the machine to jump through time in measurable and increasingly larger amounts of time every time he hit the reset button. He learns this through experimentation. Another effect he learns is that the machine moves a measurable distance each jump.
Once he determines its safe for living beings, he decides to try it on himself. He needs a metal container big enough for him to fit in(the machine must be attached to metal to transport everything within the box. He borrows a friend’s 1956 mustang, hooks up the machine, and off he goes.
The jump seems only about a minute from Matt’s point of view, but thirty days had passed when he reappears.
He’s immediately arrested for auto theft and suspicion of murder. It seems his friend had been killed at virtually the same time as he’d disappeared with the car.
When a very expensive lawyer shows up with a million dollar bail before it’s even set, Matt gets suspicious. His beneficiary is described as “somewhat looking like you, but with longer hair.” There’s also a note. Get in the car and go.
This time he reappears fifteen years in the future. The welcome wagon is waiting. The professor that had originally fired him had taken his notes and forged a Nobel Prize on the theory of time travel. They knew exactly when and where he would pop back into now.
The only problem is no one else can duplicate his machine.
His next jump is one hundred seventy-seven years. The world here seems to have reverted to a nineteenth century existence. No help here.
His odyssey of jumps carries him into increasingly stranger worlds farther and farther into the future. Everyone is familiar with time travelers, but they are always going forward in time, never backward.
But Matt knows he bailed himself out of jail, so somewhere someone has figured out how to go back in time. He just has to find it.
I enjoyed this one and the resolution, as well as the ending, were a surprise to myself. A fine new novel by the author of one of my favorite SF books, The Forever War.