Bid Time Return

Bid Time Return

infobox Book |
name = Bid Time Return


image_caption = First edition cover
translator =
cover_artist =
author = Richard Matheson
country = United States
language = English
genre = Science fiction
publisher = Viking Press
release_date = February 24, 1975
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = 278 pp (first edition, hardcover)
isbn = ISBN 0899665144 (first edition, hardback)
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Bid Time Return" is a 1975 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson. It concerns a man from the 1970s who travels back in time to court a 19th century stage actress whose photograph has captivated him. The title comes from a line in Shakespeare's "Richard II" (act iii, scene 2), "O call back yesterdays, bid time return." In 1980, it was made into the movie "Somewhere in Time", the title of which was used for future editions of the book.

Matheson has stated, "Somewhere in Time" is the story of a love which transcends time, "What Dreams May Come" is the story of a love which transcends death.... I feel that they represent the best writing I have done in the novel form." [Richard Matheson. "Somewhere in Time". New York: Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1998, pp. 318-319.]

Background

While traveling with his family, Matheson was entranced by the portrait of American actress Maude Adams in Piper's Opera House in Nevada. "It was such a great photograph," Matheson reports, "that creatively I fell in love with her. What if some guy did the same thing and could go back in time?" Then Matheson researched her life and was struck by her reclusiveness. To create the novel, he resided for many weeks at the Hotel del Coronado (where the novel takes place) and dictated his impressions into a tape recorder while experiencing himself in the role of Richard Collier. [Cora L. Diaz de Chumaceiro. "Maude Adam's Portrait as Muse for Richard Matheson." "Creativity Research Journal", 2005, Vol. 17, Issue 2/3, pp. 297-8.] Matheson based much of the biographical information about the character of Elise McKenna directly on Adams. [cite web|url=http://www.ldsfilm.com/movies/SomewhereInTime.html|title=Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Main Character in the movie "Somewhere In Time" (1980)|publisher=LDSFilm.com|date=2004-11-05|accessdate=2006-11-02]

Main characters

*Richard Collier – protagonist and main narrator, a 36-year-old screenwriter who travels back in time to meet the woman of his dreams
*Elise McKenna – a 19th century stage actress whom Richard falls in love with after seeing her photo in a hotel gallery
*William Fawcett Robinson – Elise's overbearing manager who distrusts Richard
*Robert Collier – Richard's brother, who decides to publish Richard's manuscripts

Plot summary

Richard Collier is a 36-year-old screenwriter who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and has decided, after a coin flip, to spend his last days hanging around the Hotel del Coronado. Most of the novel represents a private journal he is continually updating throughout the story.

He becomes obsessed with the photograph of a famous stage actress, Elise McKenna, who performed at the hotel in the 1890s. Through research, he learns that she never married, that she had an overprotective manager named William Fawcett Robinson, and that she seemed to have had a brief affair with a mysterious man while staying at this hotel in 1896. The more Richard learns, the more he becomes convinced that it is his destiny to travel back in time and become that mysterious man.

Through research (see below), he develops a method of time travel that involves using his mind to transport himself into the past. After much struggle, he succeeds. At first, he experiences feelings of disorientation and constantly worries that he'll be drawn back to the present, but soon the feelings dissipate.

He is unsure what to say to Elise when he finally does meet her, but to his surprise she immediately asks, "Is it you?" (She later explains that two psychics told her she would meet a mysterious man at that exact time and place.) Without telling her where (or, rather, when) he comes from, he pursues a relationship with her, while struggling to adapt himself to the conventions of the time. Inexplicably, his daily headaches are gone, and he believes that his memory of having come from the future will ultimately disappear.

But Robinson, who assumes that Richard is simply after Elise's wealth, hires two men to abduct Richard and leave him in a shed while Elise departs on a train. But Richard manages to escape and make his way back to the hotel, where he finds that Elise never left. They go to a hotel room and passionately make love.

In the middle of the night, Richard leaves the room and bumps into Robinson. After a brief physical struggle, Richard quickly runs back into the room, and he casually picks a coin out of his pocket. Realizing too late that it is a 1970s coin, the sight of it pushes him back to the present.

At the end of the book, we find out that Richard died soon after. A doctor claims that the time-traveling experience occurred only in Richard's mind, the desperate fantasy of a dying man, but Richard's brother, who has chosen to publish the journal, isn't totally sure.

Method of time travel

Richard derives his method of time travel from J. B. Priestley's book "Man and Time". This method involves performing self-hypnosis to convince his mind that he's in the past. The historical roots of the hotel help reinforce his purpose, as does an 1890s suit he buys. A similar time travel method is also used in the Jack Finney novel "Time and Again".

Awards

The novel won the 1976 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

Footnotes


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