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Time and Time Again

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It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be. Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the ce It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be. Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history. Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century? And, if so, could another single bullet save it?


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It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be. Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the ce It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be. Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history. Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century? And, if so, could another single bullet save it?

30 review for Time and Time Again

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I thought I “knew” Ben Elton. I remember the shiny suited motormouth monologues on Friday Night Live and Blackadder, and years ago I read and enjoyed Stark and at least one other of his books, but for the life of me I cannot remember which one. Time and Time Again though is a book that I will find very hard to forget – It absolutely blew me away. I loved it and am going to be telling everyone to read it. If you could go back in time and change one piece of history – what would you consider to be I thought I “knew” Ben Elton. I remember the shiny suited motormouth monologues on Friday Night Live and Blackadder, and years ago I read and enjoyed Stark and at least one other of his books, but for the life of me I cannot remember which one. Time and Time Again though is a book that I will find very hard to forget – It absolutely blew me away. I loved it and am going to be telling everyone to read it. If you could go back in time and change one piece of history – what would you consider to be the most important one to change? That is the question that Hugh Stanton has to answer in this very cleverly written time travel story which spans 300 years and a few weeks, depending on how you look at it. I loved the descriptions of 1914 Europe, the author really brought it to life, especially Berlin with his exquisite attention to detail. I am not going to go into the plot any more, because I think that just the words “time travel” and “1994” are enough for you to know. The story twists and turns constantly and each separate twist in the tale comes as a complete surprise and shock, right up until the last page. It certainly kept me on my toes as each time I tried to second guess what was going to happen, the rug was well and truly pulled from under my feet. It is a book that blew my mind and one that will leave me thinking for a long while, although not too hard I hope – because my mind is a wee bit fragile now! Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Original ideas but pulp fiction in terms of writing. Maybe reading PKD and Cixin Liu has spoiled me, but I did not find this sci fi story convincing. There were too many moments that were written like a cheap screenplay, "the emperor would be dead in 24 hours!" and yet it is actually three days later. Sorry, I know, no spoilers but this book is so irredeemably predictable that if you don't see that coming, you need to stop watching Fox&Friends because your brain is turning into oatmeal. The love Original ideas but pulp fiction in terms of writing. Maybe reading PKD and Cixin Liu has spoiled me, but I did not find this sci fi story convincing. There were too many moments that were written like a cheap screenplay, "the emperor would be dead in 24 hours!" and yet it is actually three days later. Sorry, I know, no spoilers but this book is so irredeemably predictable that if you don't see that coming, you need to stop watching Fox&Friends because your brain is turning into oatmeal. The love interests are stuff and vapid as is the protagonist. Not my cup of tea by a longshot.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/12/11/b... While I enjoy time travel books as much as the next reader, I still recall my doubts when I was first pitched this book: What if I don’t know that much about World War I? How much history do I need to know in order to follow the plot? Will I still be able to enjoy this story? Looking back at those questions now, I have to laugh. Really, I needn’t have worried about a thing. Even though history is at the center of this plot 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/12/11/b... While I enjoy time travel books as much as the next reader, I still recall my doubts when I was first pitched this book: What if I don’t know that much about World War I? How much history do I need to know in order to follow the plot? Will I still be able to enjoy this story? Looking back at those questions now, I have to laugh. Really, I needn’t have worried about a thing. Even though history is at the center of this plot and WWI is the inciting incident that sparks the fuse, Time and Time Again turned out to be about so much more. With shades of Stephen King’s 11/22/63, this novel is a suspenseful and heartfelt adventure through time and alternate realities. In truth, it focuses more on the repercussions of changing history and what it means for the main character—as well as for the whole world and the generations after him. In a not too distant future from now, Hugh Stanton is an ex-soldier and a washed up celebrity who has lost everything. The army wants nothing to do with him, and his once popular survival webcast had to be shut down after ratings fell. His wife and children are dead, killed in a hit-and-run accident in which they never found the culprits. With nothing left to lose, he agrees to take on an insane mission from a group of Cambridge scholars who call themselves the Order of Chronos. If you had one chance to change history and make the world right, when and where would you go and what would you do? This was the question posed to Stanton by his old history professor Sally McClusky, the Master of Trinity College herself. For all of them, the answer was simple—June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, to prevent the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand thus removing the catalyst for World War I. The reasoning behind their choice is both surprising and not surprising, but you’ll have to read this book for yourself to find out why. Suffice to say though, it made for a good premise. It’s no wonder that there are all sorts of “What If?” speculations surrounding this date, considering the string of extraordinary coincidences that led directly to the Archduke’s death (if you haven’t heard the story about the sandwich that changed the world, definitely look that one up!) If just one thing had changed that day, could the Great War have been averted? And how might the world look like afterwards? And here, Ben Elton had my full attention. As I said before, I enjoy stories about time travel, and my favorite books are always those that make me see things in a whole new light. Time and Time Again definitely deserves a place in this category. I love time travel theories that pull together history and science fiction, and Elton achieves this in style, postulating that Sir Isaac Newton had found a way to travel back in time and even tied this event to the great mathematician’s nervous breakdown during the period of 1692-1693. However, the best thing about this book is all the twists and turns, especially when it comes to a couple of big revelations near the end. Obviously I can’t go into them in any detail, but what I can say is that with so many poignant and unforgettable moments, Time and Time Again is one truly special book. Ben Elton also knows how to keep a reader’s attention. I went into this book thinking it would be similar to a historical drama, but I was surprised to find an exciting mix of mystery, suspense, and even some romance and light humor. This isn’t a story that relies on a single element or one aspect of its premise to make its point, and again, this was what made me think of King’s 11/22/63. If you enjoy multi-faceted time travel stories, Time and Time Again is worth checking out—even if you aren’t particularly well-versed in the history of World War I. I myself have never been too interested in the topic, yet I found myself unable to resist the author’s vivid descriptions of early 20th century Europe, and it was doubly interesting to experience this world through the eyes of a character as fascinating as Hugh Stanton. But above all, I loved how this book made me think. Going back to the original question Sally McClusky posed to Hugh Stanton: If you could make one change in history to make the world better, what would it be? Perhaps our protagonist should have answered the question with another one: Would you even want to? Not that the idea itself isn’t tempting, but who makes history anyway? Can a single person really make a difference, or are we all just like particles in Brownian motion, creating history with each and every random collision? Maybe it’s naïve to believe we can change the future by altering the past, deciding who lives and who dies. Maybe it is hubris and lack of understanding that ultimately causes Stanton to make all his mistakes, leading him to his own little quandary. In case it’s not obvious by now, I had a great time with this book. This is the first time I’ve ever read Ben Elton, and I’m very impressed with his extensive knowledge of the time period as well as the brilliant way he structured and paced this story. I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to time travel plots, and never have I been so glad to be proven wrong. Time and Time Again swept me up in its richness and intrigue, taking me to places I never expected. I know this one is going to stay with me for a long time. Definitely one of the most captivating time travel novels I’ve ever read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    If you could travel back in time and change just one thing what would it be? This question was put to ex-special services soldier Hugh Stanton by his former Cambridge University history professor. The year is 2024 and Hugh’s spirits are low as he struggles to deal with the loss of his wife and children, who’d been killed in a road accident. He’d received a call from Professor McCluskey summoning him to a meeting at Trinity College where she unveiled a letter that had been passed down the ages, pe If you could travel back in time and change just one thing what would it be? This question was put to ex-special services soldier Hugh Stanton by his former Cambridge University history professor. The year is 2024 and Hugh’s spirits are low as he struggles to deal with the loss of his wife and children, who’d been killed in a road accident. He’d received a call from Professor McCluskey summoning him to a meeting at Trinity College where she unveiled a letter that had been passed down the ages, penned by the legendary scientist Sir Isaac Newton. It seems that Newton had discovered the secret of time travel but there would be just one opportunity to exploit a window he’d identified – and that window would open, for just a few seconds, very soon. they most use this, but to what end? After batting the question around, McCluskey declared that the obvious answer to the question was that all the horror of the 20th Century could be traced back to the event that precipitated WW1 – the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, in Sarajevo. If that hadn't happen then just think of all the lives that would have been saved and all the horrific events of that century that would certainly not have occurred as a result. Yes, this is the thing that would have to be changed and Hugh was the man to do it. Back to 1914 he would have to go. My memory of Ben Elton stems back to his standup comedy days. Motor mouthed an whip-smart, he was one of the comedians who really grabbed my attention in the 1990’s. And he became a successful television comedy writer thereafter too. I knew he'd also written a number of books but this is the first I’ve managed to catch up with. His humour comes through here in the form of the hilarious McCluskey, but for the most part he plays it straight and if you're a fan of time travel stories (and I certainly am) then this is one you really should take a look at. The historical detail is fascinating and it's all clearly very well researched. The whole thing also has a tense The Day of the Jackal feel about it, and there are some really good twists that made me think about how things could have played out so differently in my own life ‘if only’. But then again would that necessarily have made my life any better, any richer? It’s all wrapped up well in the end and it’s as believable as any tale of this nature can be, but above all it's just great fun!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Saturday's Child

    Another brilliant read from the very talented Ben Elton. This one would make a fantastic movie or TV mini-series.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    I absolutely loved this one. It’s a truly excellent slice of science fiction. Fast paced, intelligently written with appealing characters and even a few laughs. Saying that, this is not a comedy. A lot of the negative reviews I’ve seen of this have been people who expected it to be; perhaps understandably as Elton is far more well known for his comedy writing (he did write most of Blackadder, after all). It’s not especially high brow speculative fiction; the time travel mechanism isn’t examined t I absolutely loved this one. It’s a truly excellent slice of science fiction. Fast paced, intelligently written with appealing characters and even a few laughs. Saying that, this is not a comedy. A lot of the negative reviews I’ve seen of this have been people who expected it to be; perhaps understandably as Elton is far more well known for his comedy writing (he did write most of Blackadder, after all). It’s not especially high brow speculative fiction; the time travel mechanism isn’t examined too closely and it’s got a big slice of boys’-own-adventure-story about it; but that’s not to say it has no value to SF fans. It’s not about the science as much as it’s about the ramifications of the science. Elton really knows his history, too; there are a couple of things you might think are errors along the way but turn out not to be. To say any more would be to give too much away. Highly recommended to anybody who likes good time travel stories and alternate histories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Hugh Stanton is an ex-army officer, and former internet survivalist sensation, whose world collapsed when his wife Cassie and two children are killed in a hit and run while crossing the street. Invited to spend Christmas with his former history professor Sally McCluskey, Stanton only goes because he is totally at a loss at what to do with himself. McCluskey is larger than life; vibrant, enthusiastic and a mentor who enthused the younger Stanton about history. She liked to pose questions to her s Hugh Stanton is an ex-army officer, and former internet survivalist sensation, whose world collapsed when his wife Cassie and two children are killed in a hit and run while crossing the street. Invited to spend Christmas with his former history professor Sally McCluskey, Stanton only goes because he is totally at a loss at what to do with himself. McCluskey is larger than life; vibrant, enthusiastic and a mentor who enthused the younger Stanton about history. She liked to pose questions to her students – historical possibilities, the influence of individuals on world events, and now she has a question for Stanton. What if he could go back in time and change history? What event would he change? For Professor McCluskey has been left a legacy which will allow Hugh Stanton to travel back to 1914; to stop the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and thus halt WWI before it happens. All those young men marching off to die will be saved and Stanton will be the hero who changes the future. In theory, at least… Real life is not quite so clear cut, but we follow Stanton as he trains for the mission of his life. This is totally engrossing –a really thrilling adventure story with fantastic characters and an exciting plot. Ben Elton has created both a present and a past which are totally believable, as Stanton travels across Europe. He is determined to leave as little mark on the world he is visiting as he can, but that is easier said than done. I think this novel deserves to be a huge success as it is a book which it is hard to put down. Full of the most amazing twists and turns and yet, despite the fast moving plot, the author makes his characters both sympathetic and believable. It is hard to say too much about this novel without giving away the plot and I have no wish to spoil it for you – so just relax and enjoy this novel – from Constantinople, on the Orient Express, through Berlin and full of atmosphere, history and the reality of what changing a moment in history can lead to. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Banner

    Man this was a great book to end the year on. Time travel books can be hit or miss with me and this one was a hit. First of all and this may not interest anyone else, but it had my all time favorite historical person playing a pivotal role in the book. That was worth four star from me. Elton did a great job with his character. (You won't have too read too far into the book to see who I'm talking about). Hugh Stanton was the perfect man for being a time traveler. A kind hearted, skeptic, rugged out Man this was a great book to end the year on. Time travel books can be hit or miss with me and this one was a hit. First of all and this may not interest anyone else, but it had my all time favorite historical person playing a pivotal role in the book. That was worth four star from me. Elton did a great job with his character. (You won't have too read too far into the book to see who I'm talking about). Hugh Stanton was the perfect man for being a time traveler. A kind hearted, skeptic, rugged outdoors man, a bit of a romantic (not always)...I could go on, but maybe you get the picture. The theme of the book focuses on the question, "If you could change one thing that is wrong with the world, what would it be?" A very profound question. Highly recommended!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This was ok. It was funny at times and quite informative about the assassination that kicked off WWI. But I didn’t much like the writing style and found it irritating and boring by turn.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

    PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT I found the premise of this book to be good... what would happen if we went back and stopped the bullet that killed Franz Ferdinand? Unfortunately, the rest of it fell flat for me, and became overly predictable. I still enjoyed the writing, but didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped to. The cover definitely drew me in, isn't it cool? It's a little bit history, a little bit sci-fi and a little bit dystopian, which all worked surprisingly well together. The research in this PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT I found the premise of this book to be good... what would happen if we went back and stopped the bullet that killed Franz Ferdinand? Unfortunately, the rest of it fell flat for me, and became overly predictable. I still enjoyed the writing, but didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped to. The cover definitely drew me in, isn't it cool? It's a little bit history, a little bit sci-fi and a little bit dystopian, which all worked surprisingly well together. The research in this is very good, giving you the definite sense of time travel. I quite liked the villain and the dystopic aspect of the book, but they weren't there for long enough to impact the story enough for me. I rated this 2.5 stars, because I felt there weren't enough consequences for some of the actions in this book, I wasn't overly fond of the protagonist and I think it was just too predictable. The rest of my review this time contains spoilers, because I've found it too hard to review this without giving something away! I think this book is best read without knowing much more than this, so if you intend on reading this, please don't read any further! The rest of you... I borrowed this from a friend, as I really wasn't sure that I'd like it enough to spend money on it, but the premise sounded interesting and it's set in one of my favourite time periods. I'm now glad I did borrow this, as I definitely would have been annoyed if I'd spent $30 on this book. I was really disappointed. Like I said, I think the premise is good, but it just fell flat for me. Maybe I've watched too much Doctor Who, but as soon as they mentioned going back in time to stop the bullet that killed Franz Ferdinand, I knew exactly what would happen. It's fairly obvious... you're going to cause big problems. Like wiping yourself out of existence, or making everything worse than it was before. And I was right. McCluskie was an interesting villain, as it's unusual to have an elderly female professor as the evil figure. You're built up to tolerate her, but not like her particularly, which I also found interesting. It's a bit of a change from the obviously evil character or the good one that turns out bad. I figured her out pretty quickly, which I was a bit disappointed in... I would have liked more of a surprise. I also think we maybe should have had more time with her, to let her do her villainy thing more thoroughly. I didn't really connect with Hugh- so much so that I just had to look up his name, even though I finished it not even 12 hours ago. Either that or my literary Alzheimers is coming on strong today. But no... he just seemed a little bit thick, a little bit too self righteous and just not relatable. We kept being told he's "dishy", heroic and very clever, but he really didn't show it to me. I liked the idea of going back in time with all your futuristic equipment and the problems that could cause, but I think that angle could have been dealt with more thoroughly... like, actually having consequences for someone coming across your futuristic things. That would have been cool, but it wasn't really a problem. The fear was there that it would become one, but it never eventuates. I think Bernadette should have had more consequences... actually, her appearance was around the point that I stopped enjoying the book. Hugh became even more annoying than he was before, with his crappy pick up lines and insta-love. The future girl was really cool, I enjoyed her and how the dystopic future was built around actual historical figures. I wish she'd been around for longer. Actually, I wish the whole middle bit was cut, so no more Bernadette, with more emphasis on the beginning and end. It almost feels to me like there were three sections to the book, all being different. So I rate this 2.5 stars. I liked the beginning and the end, I liked the premise, I liked the villain and I liked the cover. I just feel a bit disappointed in the predictability of the plot and how annoying the protagonist was. But, if you're ever given the opportunity to time travel, keep this book in mind!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    This book is a great boys own adventure of a read. Imagine travelling back to a time where you can change the history of our world, make it better, make the wars of our time not happen, prevent the deaths of soldiers in the trenches of ww1 the holocaust of Hitler's mania. Our man Hugh Stanton is engaged by the people who have the knowledge to do just that , is it foresight or hindsight? Time loops confuse the most avid sci fi boffin so I decided to just go along for the ride and it was quite a r This book is a great boys own adventure of a read. Imagine travelling back to a time where you can change the history of our world, make it better, make the wars of our time not happen, prevent the deaths of soldiers in the trenches of ww1 the holocaust of Hitler's mania. Our man Hugh Stanton is engaged by the people who have the knowledge to do just that , is it foresight or hindsight? Time loops confuse the most avid sci fi boffin so I decided to just go along for the ride and it was quite a ride! Just when I thought I knew where we were heading there was another twist, another change, another loop. If you change one thing going back in time it affects every other thing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Ben Elton and hope to read more from him sometime.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maja

    If you had one chance to change history...Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you kill?" It took me a while to finish reading this book and I'm still unsure what to make of it, even though there's a lot to like - the promise of time travel, alternative history, action and Elton's reputation as one of the world's best satirists. What I didn't expect was that it would dissolve into time traveller's compendium of clichés. The year is 2024. Hugh 'Guts' Stanton, a 'mysterious, tall, blond If you had one chance to change history...Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you kill?" It took me a while to finish reading this book and I'm still unsure what to make of it, even though there's a lot to like - the promise of time travel, alternative history, action and Elton's reputation as one of the world's best satirists. What I didn't expect was that it would dissolve into time traveller's compendium of clichés. The year is 2024. Hugh 'Guts' Stanton, a 'mysterious, tall, blond and fiendishly dishy Englishman', an ex-Special Forces turned internet celebrity (something like Bear Grylls meets Daniel Craig as James Bond), is adrift following tragic death of his wife and children. Soon, he is recruited by his former history professor and the Trinity Master at the Cambridge University, Sally McCluskey, for a very special mission - to travel through time to 1914 and save one monarch (Archduke Franz Ferdinand) and kill another (Kaiser Wilhelm) and prevent the Great War. We learn that this is possible because of a secret discovery made by Sir Isaac Newton (so, he wasn't mad after all?) that gravity affects time, 'like a slinky', allowing one to step into the past and fix it. And who is better equipped or more entitled to tinker with history than the British? As soon as Stanton (and McCluskey) steps from 2024 and into 1914, the story starts to crumble. Elton's initial tongue-in-cheek description of McCluskey as a Gorgon-like crone - old, fat, booze swigging, chimney smoking, with I don't-give-a-shit attitude - is clearly a poke at the Oxbridge institution. For a woman to become the Master of Trinity, she would no longer resemble a woman, but an ugly, mythical creature, a she-man. But, soon, too soon, she dissolves into a mere caricature who, when challenged about a historical accuracy of an event, responds with a resounding "Whatever!" Yes, I'm sure that an eminent Cambridge scholar would be saying something like that in the distant future that is 2024. It seems that Elton doesn't quite know what to do with the 1914 McCluskey and consequently she never gets off the train heading to Sarajevo. Unfortunately, from this point, the story, buffeted by the hailstorm of clichés, is hurling towards a disaster. By now, I started to wonder why anyone would bother spending a small fortune to study history at Cambridge when all they need to do is read Wikipedia, particularly when Stanton starts to wax lyrical about 'the brave and noble' Archduke, who 'like him, had guts.' The Archduke is good, the 'terrorists' are bad; that pretty much summarises the events of the 28 June 1914. Stanton fulfils his mission in Sarajevo, but not quite as he planned. You see, it is the women. They are everywhere and it is their fault that he is distracted and makes moronic errors. First, it was the sneaky McCluskey. Then, there's the dead wife who haunts him through time and space. In her honour, he has to prove he is the man she once married 'cool, but not cold'. This is why he saves a Turkish woman and her daughter in Istanbul (or is it Constantinople. Elton annoyingly keeps switching between the two) and is kind to a pretty flower girl in Sarajevo. Both events threaten to have disastrous consequences on his mission. And then he gets a 'second chance' with Bernadette, Irish suffragette, who Stanton decides is pretty before he even sees her. And of course, she is not only independent and bi-sexual, she is all strawberry blonde hair and emerald eyes. And pubic hair (yes, nothing quite captures Stanton's attention like pubic hair of 1914). It is love at first, convenient sight. Of course, we soon learn that Bernadette is only pretending at being a suffragette "Well, I don't know what life you think it is I've dropped, Hugh. I'm the original bored and pointless rich girl." Then there's the famous revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg who Stanton decides to save from the maddening crowd (they go mad after he kills the Kaiser) because Bernadette admires her. 'Such a small face. Such a small woman.' But then, a surprise. Somehow, this runaway train makes around the sharp bend and we meet Katie or KT, another time traveller. Here is the most interesting character, who, unfortunately, arrives too late. (I'm sure I will one day forgive Elton for giving Stanton the power of a male gaze to turn a tortured soul to a 'fine, noble face' "Stanton found himself wondering if she might even be beautiful". Ugh!) We get a glimpse of an alternative history, of an Orwellian world that was the result of Stanton's actions, the butterfly effect at its most frightening. A glimpse of another story that should have been told instead. Time and Time Again promised a lot, but failed to deliver. I wonder what this story would have been like had Elton fully unleashed his satire and his acerbic wit -think Pratchett meets HG Wells. Or, how powerful and poignant it would have been had it been told from KT's point of view.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    The premise is an interesting one; can you go back in time and prevent the suffering of millions? Hugh’s target is the First World War, understandably an event with triggered a snowball effect across the world. If he can prevent the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and stop his warmongering uncle, the Kaiser of Germany, from stirring trouble, will the future be different? Is one event really the cause of so much pain? I found the sections about the history, especially the assassination in Sarajev The premise is an interesting one; can you go back in time and prevent the suffering of millions? Hugh’s target is the First World War, understandably an event with triggered a snowball effect across the world. If he can prevent the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and stop his warmongering uncle, the Kaiser of Germany, from stirring trouble, will the future be different? Is one event really the cause of so much pain? I found the sections about the history, especially the assassination in Sarajevo, the most fascinating parts. However it failed in the execution of the story and the unrealistic characters. Well, maybe I just disliked Hugh in a way that wasn’t interesting. Sometimes you get characters you don’t like but they are stilling compelling to read about. Hugh was not such a character, he was just a bit of a nob. It’s a contender for the Bad Sex Awards too. Don’t start me on the fact that he’s grieving for the loss of his wife and kids from only one year ago…but he’s soon diving into bed and falling in love in the past. And halfway through the sex scene he stops to wonder if he should feel guilty. But it’s OK, the woman he’s with says it’s what his wife would have wanted and off they go again. Plus there’s an extensive paragraph going on about how she has pubes and comparing her to the modern woman. How romantic. I’m sure it’s a decent read for the kind of book it is (men’s commercial fiction) but it’s all action no emotion. At times it even seemed to mock the kind of book it is. Hugh’s a kind of working class Bear Grylls, well-educated but rather bitter about his peers having had better chances at life. I’m not sure if he was aiming at serious or tongue in cheek really. The whole thing comes across as mildly ridiculous. The last few chapters picked up a bit, although were very rushed, and it has a thought-provoking message at the centre. Anyway, I would prefer to go on and read more about the start of the First World War. I read this for book group otherwise I definitely would have put it down. Just not my cup of tea at all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan May

    Having read a couple of Ben Elton’s previous books, I knew I would enjoy Time and Time Again. What I didn’t realize was just how much. Elton has really honed his story-telling skills, and based on his latest novel, he is now arguably one of the most readable and entertaining authors writing popular fiction today. Time travel and alternate reality are complex plots to tackle, but Elton masterfully steers his book, from the first page to the end, without any dragging or info-dumping on us like so Having read a couple of Ben Elton’s previous books, I knew I would enjoy Time and Time Again. What I didn’t realize was just how much. Elton has really honed his story-telling skills, and based on his latest novel, he is now arguably one of the most readable and entertaining authors writing popular fiction today. Time travel and alternate reality are complex plots to tackle, but Elton masterfully steers his book, from the first page to the end, without any dragging or info-dumping on us like so many other authors find necessary when dealing with the time travel meme. Hugh Stanton, an ex-soldier, recently bereaved of his wife and children is summoned to his old professor of Cambridge’s chambers where he is told a fanciful story of a secret portal that will open shortly, and once only, between the present and 1914. The members of an elite society who have guarded this secret for hundreds of years, ever since Isaac Newton first predicted the portal, suggest Stanton has the perfect skills and lack of attachment to return to 1914 and prevent WW1 — the worst event they've decided, of the previous 110 years — by assassinating figures that Stanton had only previously studied in history. Of course, when he does return, Stanton discovers it is not so easy to carry out his mission when every interaction and move he makes has the potential to alter the immediate and distant future. At the same time, he struggles with the concept that his children might never be born and that, if he fails, millions will die. Elton really takes the reader on a wonderful and unique ride. This is not the same old time travel trope; there are unpredictable twists and turns right up until the last page. Time and Time Again is absolutely one of the best time travel books of its genre. I received a copy of this book from http://www.randomhouse.com.au/ for an honest review. Thank you, wonderful people there. More about this book at: Time and Time Again

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Anderson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was very disappointed with this book, particularly after reading so many positive reviews. In this review, I'm going to include information about the ending, so please stop reading now if you don't want to be aware of that. The premise seemed promising... The traditional "hero" who had lost his family being given a magic-like ability to travel to a different world to right the wrongs afflicting the people in his own world (as in Frodo, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter etc). In this story, our hero i I was very disappointed with this book, particularly after reading so many positive reviews. In this review, I'm going to include information about the ending, so please stop reading now if you don't want to be aware of that. The premise seemed promising... The traditional "hero" who had lost his family being given a magic-like ability to travel to a different world to right the wrongs afflicting the people in his own world (as in Frodo, Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter etc). In this story, our hero is going back in time to 1914 armed with detailed fore-knowledge of events, modern single-combat training, training in required languages, a working computer (!) and modern medicine and high powered weapons in order to change history for the better by stopping one assassination and performing another. As a premise, what's not to like? But of course, things inevitably don't go according to plan. Besides having to kill his mentor (think Gandalf, Obi Wan, Dumbledore) by throwing her off a train, he then has to kill an innocent girl while completing the first of his tasks. Oh well, no big problem... It's just what a hero has to do. On a train he meets an impressionable young suffragette and he dazzles her with 21st century pickup lines that would make a modern girl roll her eyes. She thinks he's amazing for "inventing" such terms as "civil disobedience" and "sexual equality" which she madly writes down for later use and he shags her without the slightest sense of irony. Like shooting fish in a barrel really. Which brings us to his assassination of a major political figure, which he does using a modern high power rifle with telescopic sights from the top of a building at a distance not normally possible in 1914. Fish in a barrel. To cut a long story short, things go pear-shaped and no matter what he does, everything gets worse. (He even starts smoking again.) When he dies at the end, it seems the message is "no matter what you do, no matter your best intentions, you will be manipulated, you will stuff up and make everything worse... So don't even try". Such a shame. I liked the cover.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    The author's style is easy to read. The book's pace is incredibly fast, one can imagine entire sections of the book translating directly into a series of quick cuts in a film. As such it is a page turner and mostly entertaining. However the premise is fundamentally flawed. the protagonist demonstrates early on that he is acutely aware of the butterfly effect yet never questions his objective of directly invoking it. Even after observing the effect first hand with his interaction with a flower gir The author's style is easy to read. The book's pace is incredibly fast, one can imagine entire sections of the book translating directly into a series of quick cuts in a film. As such it is a page turner and mostly entertaining. However the premise is fundamentally flawed. the protagonist demonstrates early on that he is acutely aware of the butterfly effect yet never questions his objective of directly invoking it. Even after observing the effect first hand with his interaction with a flower girl almost causing an irrecoverable situation. This same blinkered approach is demonstrated by the characters introduced to be members of Chronos in the early stages. Who, despite being touted as some of the greatest historians, mathematicians and philosophers Cambridge have to offer, plan a mission to meddle with history apparently knowing full well that by doing so will have have far reaching and more importantly unpredictable consequences. the The book also suffers from a lack of substance. The return through time and up to the completion of the first aspect of Stanton's mission is reasonably well developed and fleshed out. After this stage it is a rushed mess of assassination, love and closed time loops. I heard Elton promoting the book on radio and was completely taken with the idea. Unfortunately the idea of re-writing history wasn't enough to make for a good book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    My first 5* of the year. I was torn while reading this book; I am a girl who loves suspense and usually judge a book on just that, so when this book didn't really have any climatic moments I started to slate it. However, this book has gained 5* from me as it has changed my whole perception of history, time travel and it has given me a whole different experience on how books can affect your life. I found myself believing everything that was written; I had to pull myself out of this world to readj My first 5* of the year. I was torn while reading this book; I am a girl who loves suspense and usually judge a book on just that, so when this book didn't really have any climatic moments I started to slate it. However, this book has gained 5* from me as it has changed my whole perception of history, time travel and it has given me a whole different experience on how books can affect your life. I found myself believing everything that was written; I had to pull myself out of this world to readjust back into this one and to realise that the history I was reading wasn't in fact real. I have never experienced that through a book before. Ben Elton is quite simply a genius. He made me question everything and has affected me so much more than any other writer has before. I now have to go and research our country's history, just to make sure that I know which one is right!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Margo

    I thoroughly enjoyed this time travel novel, even if, every now and then, I had to fight the urge to to through it at the wall - but that would have wrecked my phone as I was listening on audio! The question was put to Hugh Stanton "if you could change one thing in history, what would it be?". Oh the possibilities are endless. As are the potential reprocessions. His answer is not not the obvious one. Stanton is possibly the worst prepared time traveller I have ever come across. Some of the charact I thoroughly enjoyed this time travel novel, even if, every now and then, I had to fight the urge to to through it at the wall - but that would have wrecked my phone as I was listening on audio! The question was put to Hugh Stanton "if you could change one thing in history, what would it be?". Oh the possibilities are endless. As are the potential reprocessions. His answer is not not the obvious one. Stanton is possibly the worst prepared time traveller I have ever come across. Some of the characters in the book are not well thought out. In places the old Ben Elton humour breaks through. Possibly my rating should be closer to 4*, but the brilliance of the concept, the great ending, and the shear panache of it all made me give it a 5.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Swaroop

    Time and Time again... indeed an interesting book and a good read. Time is endless and it is all a loop, or do we call it an "illusion"... Why am I here and what is my mission to accomplish? Can I go back in time and change few things, for a better today? Many many similar questions are running in my mind... Time and Time again... indeed an interesting book and a good read. Time is endless and it is all a loop, or do we call it an "illusion"... Why am I here and what is my mission to accomplish? Can I go back in time and change few things, for a better today? Many many similar questions are running in my mind...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Albert Myburgh

    I like Ben Elton and I really wanted to give this book 3 stars, but decided to be strong. 2 stars still mean 'it was ok' after all. And that is exactly what it was: ok. Easy and quick to read I felt a little underwhelmed with it although I did learn a bit more about the events that led to the First World War which was interesting. Also, the few smart twists toward the end were quite entertaining, however that was about it. The main character Hugh Stanton is nothing more than a hunky piece of cli I like Ben Elton and I really wanted to give this book 3 stars, but decided to be strong. 2 stars still mean 'it was ok' after all. And that is exactly what it was: ok. Easy and quick to read I felt a little underwhelmed with it although I did learn a bit more about the events that led to the First World War which was interesting. Also, the few smart twists toward the end were quite entertaining, however that was about it. The main character Hugh Stanton is nothing more than a hunky piece of cliched-tortured-soul-jock meat whose personality is as flat at the ending as it is at the start. The author's recreation of a prewar Europe was unconvincing and lacked the rich descriptiveness which could have given the setting a smacking of nostalgic revelry as Stephen King did for the early 60's in "11.22.63", Jack Finney for the late 19th century New York in "Time and Again", and Michael Bishop for the early Pleistocene Africa in "No Enemy but Time". It feels like an entry-level time travelling novel which, although entertaining, is quite forgettable.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Trelawn

    The premise of this story sucked me in straight away; if you could go back in time and change one thing, what would you change? Anyone who loves History has played at What If? In this book Hugh Stanton travels back to stop Gavrilo Princip assassinating Franz Ferdinand in 1914. He wants to prevent WWI saving millions and setting the twentieth century on a less destructive path. Well things were never going to be that straight forward! Added to this is the fact that the author leads us to believe The premise of this story sucked me in straight away; if you could go back in time and change one thing, what would you change? Anyone who loves History has played at What If? In this book Hugh Stanton travels back to stop Gavrilo Princip assassinating Franz Ferdinand in 1914. He wants to prevent WWI saving millions and setting the twentieth century on a less destructive path. Well things were never going to be that straight forward! Added to this is the fact that the author leads us to believe one thing when the opposite is true. This is an extremely intelligent and engrossing story that had me hooked til the very last sentence.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cold War Conversations Podcast

    A gripping time travelling alternative history yarn. I'm not normally a fan of the sci-fi time travelling genre, but the alternative history scenario caused by stopping the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 lured me in as well as having already ready Ben Elton's The First Casualty and Two Brothers: A Novel. Elton writes at a breezy pace and although you have some idea of what's going to happen the various twists and turns keep you guessing. An enjoyable and relatively qu A gripping time travelling alternative history yarn. I'm not normally a fan of the sci-fi time travelling genre, but the alternative history scenario caused by stopping the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 lured me in as well as having already ready Ben Elton's The First Casualty and Two Brothers: A Novel. Elton writes at a breezy pace and although you have some idea of what's going to happen the various twists and turns keep you guessing. An enjoyable and relatively quick read, as well as a fascinating "what if". Be careful what you wish for...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Closer to a 4 and a half stars. I'd know Ben Elton more for his comedy turns for Young Ones and Black Adder but this is definitely a very different approach for him. A very interesting twist on the what if concept for alternative history with academics being presented with theopportunity to drop someone from the 21st century into 1914 to reshape the 20th century into a better ,less warlike period. Stanton , the main character is very good, and there are a few interesting twists and turns , withy Closer to a 4 and a half stars. I'd know Ben Elton more for his comedy turns for Young Ones and Black Adder but this is definitely a very different approach for him. A very interesting twist on the what if concept for alternative history with academics being presented with theopportunity to drop someone from the 21st century into 1914 to reshape the 20th century into a better ,less warlike period. Stanton , the main character is very good, and there are a few interesting twists and turns , withy a couple of big ones getting dropped in at the end just as you think its all finishing up. Ben Eltons knowledge of History also brings a lot to the table. His research shows quite well in the book. All in all a really good alternative history

  24. 4 out of 5

    ♥♫☻Olivia☻♫♥

    DNF on page 74 Nope. No thank you. I can't believe I'm typing this, but I would actually much rather read the sequel of Decapitation. DNF on page 74 Nope. No thank you. I can't believe I'm typing this, but I would actually much rather read the sequel of Decapitation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Willem van den Oever

    Warning: This review of Ben Elton’s “Time and Time Again” contains some mild spoilers regarding plot development. Ever since Michael J. Fox got out of a Delorean and endangered his own existence by having his own mum fall for him, it’s been clear that time travel isn’t just fun. It can be bloody dangerous and problematic too. With “Time and Time Again”, Ben Elton – who I only knew for his comedy writing for various excellent BBC-series, but shows here he has a lot more to say – tackles the space-t Warning: This review of Ben Elton’s “Time and Time Again” contains some mild spoilers regarding plot development. Ever since Michael J. Fox got out of a Delorean and endangered his own existence by having his own mum fall for him, it’s been clear that time travel isn’t just fun. It can be bloody dangerous and problematic too. With “Time and Time Again”, Ben Elton – who I only knew for his comedy writing for various excellent BBC-series, but shows here he has a lot more to say – tackles the space-time troubles in his own way. Here, our hero is called Hugh Stanton, a traumatized loner with a past. Or rather, a future. Having been sent back in time by a shady company, Stanton – an ex-soldier and celebrated adventure – is given a chance to prevent the most catastrophic event of the twentieth century from ever happening at all. Once, the assassination of an arch duke in Sarajevo plunged the world into a terrible war. Stanton’s mission is to prevent that this global madness will ever take place. But will the century really be saved by stopping a single bullet from being fired? There’s so much jumping back and forth through time during the opening chapters of this book, that it made my head spin. In a good way, though, as it signals from the start how cleverly Elton has plotted out his novel. Time travel is not just a gimmicky way to have the story take place in the early twentieth century; there’s well-developed reasoning and consequence behind it all. While at the same time still retaining that adventurous spirit. But get past the intriguing set-up, and “Time and Time Again” starts to show some cracks. Tempo-wise, the narrative shocks and bounces like a breaking steam-engine between long dialogue scenes and explosive action sequences. And all the while, Stanton – who started off being such an interesting, troubled lead – refuses to come out of his shell and become a more complex character. And halfway through, there’s the obligatory female character-turned-love interest, which doesn’t add anything to the story, especially since the she remains so incredibly 2-dimensional. Besides the flat side-characters, 1914 never really comes alive in this book either. Over the course of the story, Stanton might feel he’s developed into a twentieth-century man, but the reader surely won’t understand that. For that, Elton’s work is lacking too much in descriptions or impressions. The speed of his narrative turns “Time and Time Again” into a thrilling page-turner. Studios and producers need little imagination to understand how well this idea could be turned into a feature or TV-show. But the plot is too action-driven to spend proper attention to its décor. A shame, because Elton has opened up a wonderful opportunity with this concept. What I personally found most disappointing in “Time and Time Again”, is the lack of Stanton’s personal motivation. Throughout, he continues to be the agent for the mysterious brotherhood. He never really leaves that assignment behind to make his journey more personal. It’s this lack of character which perhaps shows best that, though “Time and Time Again” is handsomely written, being both clever and pleasantly action-driven, it lacks a soul to pack a much-needed emotional punch.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melliott

    At the risk of being repetitive, I will echo others' reviews when I say that I liked the premise but the story fell a little flat. I had trouble getting into it from the beginning. There wasn't enough lead-up to the involvement with the Chronos people. I disliked the character of McCluskey from her first appearance and never changed my mind on that. The protagonist, Hugh, was self-involved and a bit arrogant, leaving his development flat and two-dimensional in some ways; and despite the saga of At the risk of being repetitive, I will echo others' reviews when I say that I liked the premise but the story fell a little flat. I had trouble getting into it from the beginning. There wasn't enough lead-up to the involvement with the Chronos people. I disliked the character of McCluskey from her first appearance and never changed my mind on that. The protagonist, Hugh, was self-involved and a bit arrogant, leaving his development flat and two-dimensional in some ways; and despite the saga of a continuous months-long prep period for traveling back in time, the minute he "got there" he proceeded to use so many anachronistic bits of language designed to betray his strangeness that it was obvious he didn't give much weight (or importance) to his preparation. I thought the romance was stupidly contrived, and was presented in quite a shallow manner. An adult case of insta-love, as they call it in YA fiction. And Hugh's animadversions on the contrast between female grooming habits of 1914 vs. 2024 were superfluous as well as uncomfortable! The best bit of the book was the last 100 pages, when he discovers he's not the first time traveler to attempt a correction to history, and it's too bad there wasn't more focus on that instead of all the tedious detail in the middle. And finally--publishers and cover designers, PAY ATTENTION! The protagonist was repeatedly described as having straight blond hair. So why is the guy on the cover pictured as a brunette? Gee, I started out thinking I had liked this book a lot more than I did, as it turns out!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Martin Belcher

    I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this one for ages! Absolutely riveting...a thriller of the future, the past, time travel, changing the past and the future.... Hugh Stanton is an ex-soldier in 2024 who has suffered a terrible loss, loosing his wife and children in an awful accident. It seems he has nothing to live for. A meeting with his old professor of history at Cambridge reunites him with his past and a future, a mission linked to Sir Issac Newton's theories of travel in time. The Professo I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this one for ages! Absolutely riveting...a thriller of the future, the past, time travel, changing the past and the future.... Hugh Stanton is an ex-soldier in 2024 who has suffered a terrible loss, loosing his wife and children in an awful accident. It seems he has nothing to live for. A meeting with his old professor of history at Cambridge reunites him with his past and a future, a mission linked to Sir Issac Newton's theories of travel in time. The Professor reveals a plan to use Newton's secret passed on by professor to professor in Cambridge to use his theory of being able to travel back in time to 1914 to specifically stop the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and then on to kill the Kaiser, leader of Imperial Germany. The aim to stop the First World War from ever happening and create an alternative 20th century, peaceful and more prosperous. What follows is a superb thriller of historical proportions, entertaining, riveting and keeps you hooked from the beginning to the highly unexpected twist at the end. I won't reveal anymore other than saying this story doesn't end how you think it will....... Highly, highly recommended!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    The last Ben Elton book I read, Two Brothers, leapt to the top of my all time favourite reads. This has now leapt up to the top five, and may go higher, once I've had time to digest the story. All of the What Ifs involved in time travel are here, neatly knitted into a fascinating, fast paced alternative history of the twentieth century, and how it could have been if the First World war had been averted. Similarities to Stephen Kings 11.22.63, but focused on Europe, this book is simply brilliant. The last Ben Elton book I read, Two Brothers, leapt to the top of my all time favourite reads. This has now leapt up to the top five, and may go higher, once I've had time to digest the story. All of the What Ifs involved in time travel are here, neatly knitted into a fascinating, fast paced alternative history of the twentieth century, and how it could have been if the First World war had been averted. Similarities to Stephen Kings 11.22.63, but focused on Europe, this book is simply brilliant.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth Sponzilli

    Great time travel story. Recommended especially if you liked Stephen King’s 11/22/63. It is an adventure to change history for the better, involving WWI. Might read more of this author.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This one was only a fairly middle of the road read for me. While I liked Hugh a lot and the novel's premise, and I found the two main female characters in this book to be be poorly developed, which is a pet peeve of mine in books. Professor Cluskey seemed to be the stereotypical cold and calculating female academic who doesn't have any children. This is a fairly common trope in books. I don't think that writing her in this manner was necessary to the plot. I'm also curious as to whether folks felt This one was only a fairly middle of the road read for me. While I liked Hugh a lot and the novel's premise, and I found the two main female characters in this book to be be poorly developed, which is a pet peeve of mine in books. Professor Cluskey seemed to be the stereotypical cold and calculating female academic who doesn't have any children. This is a fairly common trope in books. I don't think that writing her in this manner was necessary to the plot. I'm also curious as to whether folks felt like the deliberate killing of Hugh's family was really necessary. Bernadette (before she betrays Hugh to the authorities) on the other hand seems a bit too good to be true. I did like that Hugh came from a different version of the 20th century than our own. On the other hand, the plot at the end of the book with all its different versions of history got a bit convoluted. Time travel novels have a tendency in my experience to get that way, if not extremely well done. Margo compared it to 11/22/63, but I think Stephen King pulls it off better. This was a quick fun read, but I didn't find it as good as many folks in my book group did.

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