Grayson (Lust Takes the White House, 2011) chronicles the efforts of a hapless, mid-30s physics professor to gain self-respect using a time machine.
Maynard Snodgrass is a self-deprecating hero who initially lacks the self-confidence to rise above the insults directed at him by colleagues, his boss and members of the opposite sex. Brilliant and resourceful, he draws on his intellect to construct a time machine that will convince his tormentors and detractors that he is worthy of both respect and tenure. When his first attempt to prove that time travel is possible results in disaster, Maynard decides to go bold: He will travel back to December 1941 and destroy the Japanese fleet before it can attack Pearl Harbor. Who would deny a man using a time machine to save thousands of lives anything but the highest respect? But things don’t go exactly as planned. The wannabe savior is sentenced to death by a U.S. Navy court martial for commandeering a U.S. battleship and killing thousands of Japanese. Yet all is not lost. Maynard may overcome his fate in an implausible scheme involving a crazed, sword-wielding Japanese naval commander and an oversexed Army captain’s wife. Those looking for a Stephen Hawking or Michio Kaku explanation of time travel may be disappointed. It spares the unscientific reader the burden of time-travel formulas and abstract treatises on wormholes and event horizons but at the cost of any shred of plausibility. Maynard’s sudden transformation also seems a bit incongruous. Some areas of the book tend to get bogged down with mundane detail—meals and clothing descriptions, for example; conversely, the epic nature of time travel is given short shrift.
A light character study of a professor altered by his own invention.