Welcome to the Chunkster Reading Challenge - a challenge which satisfies those readers who like their books fat and chunky!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Map Of Time: Chunky Book Club Discussion

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

I'm opening the discussion early for the Chunky Book Club so today opens the discussion of The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma. I hope you all have enjoyed the journey through Palma's time machine! If you haven't visited the Official Website for the book, I hope you'll do so - it is really a fun and interactive site.

Palma's follow up novel to The Map of Time - The Map of the Sky -is being given away here on the Chunkster Challenge blog. It is a signed edition and we have three copies up for grabs. Participation in this discussion will offer you additional chances to win a copy. Visit this post to enter.

A little about the author:

Felix J. Palma has been loudly acclaimed by critics as one of the most brilliant and original storytellers of our time. The Map of Time, his US debut, was a New York Times and international bestseller. Read more about Palma here.

If you have read The Map of Time and reviewed it, please feel free to add a link to your review using Mr. Linky below:

How Does the Discussion Work?
  • ANYONE may participate who has read the book.
  • Questions (below) are to stimulate discussion. You may choose to answer any, all or none of them...or you may pose your own questions for discussion.
  • Respond in comments on this post. I have activated the "reply" function in comments so that you may reply directly to someone else's comment if you wish to do so.
  • Consider subscribing to the comments so that you will be notified when someone posts a comment.
  • BE FOREWARNED: There may be spoilers contained in the questions and in the discussion below!!!
That's it! Have fun!!!

*Many questions below were borrowed from Lit Lovers
  1. Did you enjoy the book? Why or why not?
  2. Author Felix J. Palma has written about how he prepared himself to write The Map of Time: To do it, I'd have to immerse myself in the Victorian era and think like an Englishman from the nineteenth century.... I started to educate myself on the period so I could realistically portray what a fascinating time it was to be alive in London, the largest city on earth. Does Palma succeed in bringing Victorian London to life? As you read his work, did you feel as if you were present in that world?
  3. Consider time travel: What would happen if you met your future self? What would you do, or say? If you could alter the past, what would you change—in your own life...or, on a grander scale, in the world?
  4. Which of the three interrelated stories did you most enjoy...and why?
  5. On page 7 (hardcover edition), the narrator writes: "Assuming you stay until the end of this tale, some of you will no doubt think that I chose the wrong thread with which to begin spinning my yarn, and that for accuracy's sake I should have respected chronological order and begun with Miss Haggerty's story." Do you think that starting with Andrew's story made the most sense for the story, or should have the narrator started with Claire's story?
  6. Were you caught off guard—surprised—by the twists and turns of the plots? Did you experience any "you got me there" moments? What about those "Ah-ha!" moments when things started to make sense, or come together for you...any of those?
  7. What about Andrew Harrington? Is he too immersed in self-pity to admire? Or is he presistent and courageous in his attempt to save Marie Kelly from Jack the Ripper? Speaking of Jack the Ripper, are the descriptions of his murders overly graphic? Or are they integral to the plot, atmosphere, and sense of place?
  8. Why is Claire Haggerty unhappy with her life? What does she wish for? Did you find her story believable?
  9. H.G. Wells takes a prominent role in the novel. Have you read his classic The Time Machine? If so, do you think reading that book first enhances Palma's novel? Is it important to understand the "real" H.G. Wells to fully appreciate Palma's characterization of him?
  10. Talk about the way in which Palma portrays the year 2000. Does the year have anything in common with the actual 2000? Is it possibly symbolic of trends in technology? Is Palma's 2000 a totally alien world to ours, or is it a vaguely (and scarily) familiar one?
  11. In the end, the book offers a compendium of cosmic speculation—parallel universes, loopholes in the time continuum, alternative histories, and the Map of Time. If you are not a science-fiction devotee, do you find these discussions intriguing or engaging? Or is it necessary to be a hard-core sci-fi fan to appreciate them?
  12. How does this novel suggest, metaphorically, that time travel is actually possible? How does it suggest that right now, today, any of us may slip the bonds of this world and transport ourselves through space and time?
  13. What do you think of the narrator? Do you find the comments engaging, perhaps humorous ... or tiresome and irritating? Why might the author have created an intrusive narrative voice?
  14. Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, why not...and how would you change it? 
  15. If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask?  
  16. Do you plan on reading the follow up book The Map of the Sky? If not, why not.


  1. Ooooh, I'm first!

    I absolutely loved this book. It's the first time I really enjoyed a book about time travel, usually that is not my type of thing. Some reasons might be the time and place this is happening, I absolutely love Victorian and pre-Victorian England, the fact that there is a book background ... or maybe because I had the feeling that the author does not really believe in time travel, either, but had a lot of fun writing this story. I enjoyed going through all the different kinds of explanations there are that time travel could be possible and certainly would enjoy taking all the arguments apart.

    One of the above questions is which one of the interrelated stories I enjoyed most. Tough question but I think the first one was the best, someone who wanted to go back in time in order to save someone's life and somebody else (actually quite a few others) who does everything possible in order to save that person's life again. Very sweet.
    I did think it was a good way to start the story, it would not have been as exciting, if the author had started with another one of the chapters.

    I have not read "The Time Machine", only watched the classic movie. The novel is on my wish list now.

    I believe that any dystopian novel (and this is one from the point of view of the protagonists) reflects on the time it has been written, it reveals the angst of the time, if you want. The people of the late 19th century were afraid that technology would take over, and it has, even more than they could ever have imagined. Same as I believe that 1984 has come true today, I believe that the vision described in this book has come true today, even though London still stands. And I'm more than grateful for that, it's my favourite city.

    At the end of the day, I do believe time travel is possible and we all do it every day when we pick up our books and let us transfer to places and times we have never seen and probably will never see but we live a new life with every new story.

    Now, I hope this is the beginning of a long discussion and will certainly return once more people have put in their two cents.

    Oh, and I do live in Europe. Does this entry make me eligible for the giveaway? If not, please let me know what else I have to do. I will definitely read the follow up, The Map of the Sky, whether I win it or not.

    1. Marianne - because you are participating in the discussion here, you are eligible to enter the giveaway even though you are outside of the US and Canada! So go for it!

      I'll be back later to comment more - I loved the book too :)

    2. Marianne -

      I also enjoyed the first story the most and it was what hooked me. I agree, that if he had started with the other parallel story, it would not have been as good.

      I loved this part of your comment: "At the end of the day, I do believe time travel is possible and we all do it every day when we pick up our books and let us transfer to places and times we have never seen and probably will never see but we live a new life with every new story." A GREAT answer!!! and YES!

    3. Marianne, I also loved this part of your comment and it is something I have never really thought of that way. With that in mind, I have happily traveled to many places, meet many wonderful people in many different times and love every minute of it. Great thought!!!!

    4. I'm glad you enjoyed my review. I will post it soon on my blog, as well, and post a link. I love the discussion here, so many dedicated readers.

    5. I have just posted my review on my blog Let's Read .

  2. I enjoyed the book but I didn't absolutely love it. There were certain parts that felt contrived, such as the encounter with Joseph Merrick. Maybe it was there more for background on Victorian England which was strange and twisted in many ways. I think the author did illustrate the Victorian period but it's not as realistic as Dickens. I have not read The Time Machine, I somehow had this impression of it as being dull. Maybe, I should reconsider reading it. Also, I know nothing about H.G.Wells and so I enjoyed the life that Palma has created for Wells. I think we've met Claire Haggerty before in other stories of women who wished to lead a more unconventional life. I think she is as the author describes her, hopelessly bored. For a woman to be as bored as she is implies a certain intelligence,and yet she believes in Shackleton. That did not completely ring true but then one must suspend disbelief to enjoy the book.
    I didn't think the year 2000 had much resemblance to ours and not just because we haven't had a war with automatons. There was also a certain lack of details that would have made 2000 more convincing but that makes sense because the year 2000 (in the book) is a hoax. Again, one must suspend disbelief and just go with the story. I agree that it reflects an ambivalence with technology which is very much a part of our world. It is interesting though that the driving theme of the TV show Battlestar Galactica was war between humans and artificial life. (Supposedly, Obama was a fan of the show.)
    I actually found all the convoluted discussions at the end of the book engaging and I like the idea of the time travel gene. In many ways, the brain is a more convincing mode of time travel than any machine!

    1. I agree that to really enjoy the book you have to suspend reality...there were times I also wondered how these people could believe as they did - BUT, that said, it was an interesting time in history when people were just learning about science and did not fully understand it.

    2. I am usually someone who says "but that couldn't happen in real life". I didn't have that sort of a problem with this book, even though I don't really believe in time travel. But I agree with you, Wendy, it was a different time and people probably would have believed these kind of stories, you can see how many people still believe that science fiction movies could be real.

  3. I absolutely loved this book. The author writing style was wonderful. I feel he used his words to transport me back to Victorian England. When he described the streets, housing etc, I was able to picture those places in my mind.
    When I was 20 or so, I would have loved to meet my future self; but at this age I most likely would be thinking about how old I was. I would really not change too much in my life if I could alter the past. I would be afraid of what it would do to the ‘Fabric of time”; plus I am very blessed and don’t have many regrets. As far as on a grander scale, the first thing that comes to mind is I would want to find a way of preventing the assignation of President Kennedy. I feel that the world today would be a lot different if he was able to complete his first term or maybe even a second term as president.
    I enjoyed Andrew’s story the most. Most likely because I am a romantic and would want someone to mourn me if I was murdered. The idea of him wanting nothing more than to save Marie Kelly when he could have traveled anywhere is romantic and thrilling to me. Plus, he was not a violent man but was willing to murder another human being to save his love.
    No, I think that the author needed to start with Andrew’s story. Think about how thrilling it was when we thought that Andrew had actually traveled back in time and saved Marie Kelly; not to mention killing Jack the Ripper. If he had started with Claire’s story, we would have known that time travel was all a scheme for Gillian to get rich.
    I have several “you got me” moments. One was when Charles walked back into Wells home and they discussed how the “tricked” Andrew. I was again surprised when it turned out that Charles’ and Claire’s time travel trip was also a scam. Then again when the author weaved the two stories together and Tom was the person running from Wells’s home when Andrew returned on the horse after saving Marie Kelly.
    I did not see Andrew as weak nor did I think he was too self-pitying. I thought he was very courages being willing to travel back in time to save Marie Kelly. He had no idea what was going to occur when he sat in the time machine. I thought that he was also showed how truly strong he was when he resisted allowing Marie Kelly to see him; not sure if I could have been that strong. I did feel that the author was a bit to graphic regarding the Jack the Ripper killings for my taste. I do not like “blood and guts” in books or movies and I think that we could have used our imagination a bit more and not have to have the every gross some detail describe to us.
    As for Claire, I think she is unhappy with her life because she wanted adventure and felt that her life was dull. I also think that Claire was dissatisfied with the way women in general were treated during this time in history. Can you imagine not being able to vote, voice your opinion, to lose ownership of your processions to your husband once you were married? To be treated as the “weaker” sex? No wonder
    Claire was looking for more in her life.
    Nope, have never read The Time machine.
    I think that Palma year 2000 is not the far-fetched. We may not be at war with machines (at this point) but technology has changed our way of life which may not be in our best interest. Think about how many jobs have been lost due to the replacement of humans with machines who can perform the task longer, and faster. (And the employer doesn’t even have to provide a lunch break for them) How much time a day do we spend on the computer, Iphone or using some type of technology? Time that may be better spent with the family or reading a good book.
    I found the narrator humorous and engaging. Many times he put a spin on things that I didn’t even consider.
    I plan on reading The Map of the Sky. I enjoyed Palma writing and look forward to more books by him.

    1. Cathie,

      You need to pick up a copy of Stephen King's 11/22/63 which is a time travel novel that explores the idea of what the world would be like if JFK was saved...I think you'd like it!

      You wrote: "No, I think that the author needed to start with Andrew’s story. Think about how thrilling it was when we thought that Andrew had actually traveled back in time and saved Marie Kelly; not to mention killing Jack the Ripper. If he had started with Claire’s story, we would have known that time travel was all a scheme for Gillian to get rich." and I agree with this - the idea that the whole thing was a scheme gradually evolved and that was perfect, in my opinion. Before we knew that, I found my palms sweating when Andrew came face to face with Jack the Ripper!

    2. Oh Wendy, I am with you about sweating palms when Andrew was face to face with Jack the Ripper. I was also thrilled that the Ripper was dead so no more murders. Felt let down when I found out it was all a hoax by Charles, Wells and Jane.

    3. Great review. I do agree, he could have left out some of the gory details but I am sure hew as looking at a larger audience, a lot of people want them. I don't need them, either, but they were part of the story. Jack the Ripper was very cruel.

      Never read a Stephen King but I love alternate history, so will look into the book you suggested, Wendy. Thank you.

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