The best books to contemplate for a time

Craig Vann Author Of Ticking: The Hawking Sequence
By Craig Vann

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by the concept of time travel since I was a kid wishing to return to simpler times; the days before computers, huge metropolises, and before people protested everything. Some of these books achieve that, others do not claim to. I have no expertise in the science of time travel; no one does. While “time travel” is real (check out “time dilation”), to travel through time as writers like me profess is impossible. Or maybe it’s possible, given an opportune gravitational wave... Enjoy my recommended books! You’re in for a treat.


I wrote...

Ticking: The Hawking Sequence

By Craig Vann,

Book cover of Ticking: The Hawking Sequence

What is my book about?

The Hawking Sequence continues the time travel adventures of Skypilot and Zachary after their historic inaugural mission to England in the year 1766 in Ticking: A Tale of Two Time Travellers.

Sky’s Aunt Beatrice developed time travel. Now, she reveals to her friend and colleague, Alim, that she has sent two people back in time and that a young woman, Helena Harrison, was brought to Fraserdale from 1766. The story unfolds at the theme wedding of Sky and Helena, two young lovers who traversed through time to be together. Invited to witness their vows is family friend Sam Richter, a CSIS agent, who is not in town just for the wedding; he has been directed to investigate the work of the scientist, Beatrice Westover. What wonders will they see? What characters will they meet? 

The books I picked & why

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The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

By Russell Shorto,

Book cover of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Why this book?

Chronicling the early days of the Dutch presence in Manhattan, New York, the book is full of rich stories from the earliest days of the colony; encounters with wildlife, Indians, and other Europeans. I have read this book three times, captivated by the multi-ethnic beginnings of New York, a characteristic that defines the city even today. Tidbits like how facets of the Dutch language have been incorporated into English, such as the words “boss,” “cole slaw,” and “cookie.” The orange colour in the New York Mets uniform is an homage to Dutch heritage. What if the Dutch had been able to repel the British invaders? Would we all be speaking Dutch? Don’t wooden shoes cause blisters? But take off those shoes, put your feet up and read, an excellent read.


The Time Machine

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The Time Machine

Why this book?

As an author, my genre is historical fiction and, presently, time travel, with a side-trip to steampunk. This classic novella is the quintessential time travel tale from the grandfather of science fiction itself and steampunk. As in my books, a young chrononaut (time traveller) travels through time. Unlike my books, this chrononaut travels into the future, not the past, and comes across a dwindling planet inhabited by two strange species, evolved from humanity. A quick read that leaves you wanting more trips on the steampunk time machine.


The National Dream, The Last Spike

By Pierre Berton,

Book cover of The National Dream, The Last Spike

Why this book?

I am an ex-railroader. During my university days, I worked as both a sectionman (repairing and maintaining a section of track) and a brakeman (riding “shotgun” and calling signals in the lead unit with the engineer). I also worked as a patrolman, operating a “speeder” in front of and behind a train. In front, I was looking for rocks and trees that might fall on the tracks. Following a train, my job was to put out any fires that may start as a result of sparks flying from heated brake pads. So, the classic story of the building of the trans-Canada railroad is appealing to me. The characters that were involved at the time Sir John A. McDonald, Louis Riel, William Van Horne, and Sir Sandford Fleming – were Alpha personalities that were usually on a collision course. A classic piece of Canadiana, enjoyable for anyone. They even made a movie a miniseries about it in the early 1970s.


The Pillars of the Earth

By Ken Follett,

Book cover of The Pillars of the Earth

Why this book?

The first in a series, Pillars sets the stage for subsequent Follett masterpieces. I devoured this huge page-turner in no time at all. The graphic violence of the time contrasts its tender love-making. I shared Tom Builder’s angst when he returns to find his abandoned baby gone. Follett seems to be a wanna-be architect as he describes in glorious detail 12th Century churches and buildings. As a budding author, I learned a lot reading this book and its sequels. I’m still learning.


Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation

By Alan Burdick,

Book cover of Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation

Why this book?

I write about time; the ticking of the clock and the passage through it. But when thinking about time zones and what time it is here or there, I still have to rely on imagining the sun at noon, here at home, and where in the sky that sun would be in the place in question. Time, the fourth dimension, is a confusing concept! While this book may shed some light on that concept, it asks more questions; about circadian rhythms, global regulation of time, and time as a social, and thus temporary, function. Not an easy read, Why Time Flies may take you some to complete, but it is worth the effort.


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