“Time Ships”, by Stephen Baxter, is a sequel to the classic H.G. Wells novel “The Time Machine”. The sequel starts at the precise moment where the original ended. The Time Traveler hops in his machine to go back to the future and re-unite with Weena of the Eloi. But events do not go as expected.
As the Time Traveler (we never find out his name) goes forward in time again, the future is different than the one he visited previously. This time the Morlocks are enlightened and technologically advanced civilization. The traveler spends quite a bit of time with the Morlocks and there he learns of the multi-universe theory of the world. This theory says that as events occur the universe splits into several different universes, each containing a different outcome of the event in question. This leads to a possibility of unlimited number of universes co-existing on different timelines. An unhappy side effect of this is that the traveler has very little chance to get back to the time line that had the Eloi and his Weena.
But this one alternate history is just the beginning of the adventure. The traveler escapes from the new Morlock future (inadvertently dragging along a Morlock scientist) and comes back to a time twenty years before the time machine was invented and he meets his younger self.
As he discusses time travel with his younger self, a time machine from not too distant future arrives and takes them all into the 1940s London, where a terrible war is being waged between England and Germany. Of course, this is still another history that is different what you may be familiar with.
As the story continues, further jumps in time occur into the past and the future. In fact parts of the book reminded me of the ending of “2001 – A Space Odyssey”, where the main character evolves beyond being human and things get bit mystical.
As a sequel to “The Time Machine”, I think the author did an admirable job. The early parts of the book were very much in the spirit of the original. The end got little too “far out”, although the final ending was what the reader would have wanted.
I do like time travel stories and I enjoyed this one a great deal.