Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Door Into Summer

The Door Into Summer was written in 1957 and set in 1970 and 2000. As such, it provides an interesting view of how much was predicted "wrong". About the future. We don't have zero-gravity entertainment, self lighting cigarettes, or widespread robot servants. We also haven't licked the common cold or had a large "cold war" holocaust. However, we do have newspapers that can be read electronically on a tablet (alas, those were more 2010 than 2000.) Computer Aided Design was somewhat foreshadowed, though it was more advanced than what was predicted in the novel. Changes in retail, telecommunications and computers were all significantly underestimated.

The story centers around Dan, a genius engineer who builds all sorts of great household gadgets in 1970. Alas, he does not pay attention to business, and his partners manage to swindle him out of the company. He initial decides to undergo a 30 years "deep sleep" to escape the problems, but then changes his mind and decides to visit his old partners. Things go sour, and they decide to dispose of him in a different facility - causing him to lose most of his money. Down on his luck, he takes odd jobs, brushes up on engineering, and eventually goes back to the company he originally founded. He also discovers that some of the patents for a competitor were filed by him and that a professor in Denver knows something about time travel. He travels back to 1970, fixes things up, and then returns to a happier 2001, marrying the girl of his dreams and living happily ever after. The story is fun and fast moving. The time travel part, while key to the ultimate resolution is not the centerpiece of the novel. (Though it does spend some time trying to go through the paradoxes of time travel.)

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