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The 50th anniversary edition of the beloved classic that Stephen King has called “THE great time-travel story.” Featuring a brand-new introduction by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion, Blake Crouch.

When advertising artist Si Morley is recruited to join a covert government operation exploring the possibility of time travel, he jumps at the chance to leave his mundane 20th-century existence and step into the past. But he also has another motivation for going back in time: a half-burned letter that tells of a mysterious, tragic death and ominously of “fire which will destroy the whole world.”

Traveling to New York City in January 1882 to investigate, he finds a Manhattan teeming with a different kind of life, the waterfront unimpeded by skyscrapers, open-air markets packed with activity, Central Park bustling with horse drawn sleighs—a city on the precipice of great things. At first, Si welcomes these trips as a temporary escape but when he falls in love with a woman he meets in the past, he must choose whether to return to modern life or live in 1882 for good.

“Pure New York fun” (Alice Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author), Time and Again is meticulous recreation of New York in the late nineteenth century, exploring the possibilities of time travel to tell an ageless story of love, longing, and adventure. Finney’s magnum opus has been a source of inspiration for countless science fiction writers since its first publication in 1970.

This reading group guide for Time and Again includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

When advertising artist Si Morley is recruited to join a covert government operation exploring the possibility of time travel, he jumps at the chance to leave his mundane twentieth-century existence and step into New York City in January 1882. Aside from his thirst for adventure, he has good reason to return to the past—his friend Kate has discovered a mysterious, half-burned letter dated from that year, and Si has good reasons to want to trace its origins.

But when Si begins to fall in love with a woman he meets in the past, he will be forced to choose between two worlds—forever.

“Pure New York fun” (Alice Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author), Time and Again is a deeply researched rich portrait of life in New York City more than a century ago and a swift-moving adventure novel with timeless themes at its core.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Si Morely has a seemingly decent life in New York City as an advertising artist. What does he feel is missing in his life? Why do you think he is so eager to travel back in time?

2. In what ways is Si’s method for time travel differ from how it is portrayed in other time travel novels or films? Why do you think Finney choose hypnotism rather than something more technological?

3. What do you think is unique about Si Morley that allows him to time travel while other people in the government program try and fail?

4. What differences does Si find between New York in the 1880s and in the 1970s? What interested or surprised you about what the city looked like and how the people behaved?

5. What are Si’s specific reasons for traveling back to the 1880s, why do you think he chooses the city he lives in rather than something more exotic?

6. Is there a decade you would like to travel back to? If so, why? Do you share similar reasons as Si for wanting to go back to this time?

7. When Si first meets Julia Charbonneau, what do you think draws him toward her, and what about the circumstances they meet in helps him become enchanted?

8. Stephen King has called Time and Again the great time-travel story.” Why do you think Finney’s novel is so highly regarded in the genre?

9. Finney includes real photographs from the time period Si travels back to, did this enhance your reading experience? Why do you think Finney chose to include them?

10. With fifty years past since Time and Again’s first publication, we are now nearly as far from Si’s 1970s as Si was to the 1880s. What do you find different about the values and look of New York in the 1970s as communicated in the novel? Do you think more has changed about New York and the United States from 1880 to 1970 or from 1970 to 2020?

11. What do you think about the choice Si makes at the end of novel? Would you have done the same?

12. Finney famously took twenty-five years between writing the sequel to Time and Again, From Time to Time, which follows Si Morely’s time travel to the Titanic in 1912. Why do you think it took him so long and why do you think he choose to continue Si’s journey by having him travel to 1912?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Make your book club gathering 1880s New York–themed using what you learn about the time period in Time and Again. Don your riding habits and top hats and enjoy some of the simple American foods Si describes in his travels to old New York.

2. Watch a contemporary film or television show that features time travel such as Outlander, Russian Doll, or Looper. What new twists have been added to the genre since Time and Again was written? How do film and television portray time travel differently than literature? What concerns do they share? Discuss the strengths and weakness of each medium.

3. Read another time-travel classic such as H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, or Steven King’s 11/22/63. Compare and contrast them to Time and Again.

Jack Finney (1911–1995) was the author of the much-loved and critically acclaimed novel Time and Again, as well as its sequel, From Time to Time. Best known for his thrillers and science fiction, a number of his books—including Invasion of the Body Snatchers—have been made into movies.

courtesy of reader

Campbell Scott directed the film Off The Map, and received the best actor award from the National Board of Review for his performance in Roger Dodger. His other films include The Secret Lives of Dentists, The Dying Gaul, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle and Big Night, which he also co-directed.

More books from this author: Jack Finney

More books from this reader: Campbell Scott

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