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Time Travel

Time travel is one of my favorite sf themes. But only when it is integral to the story and not merely used as an incidental plot device to, say, get two characters to meet. Good time travel stories, in my opinion, revolve around the paradox.

A recent MSNBC article talks a bit about the theoretical science behind time travel. Our old friend Michio Kaku makes an appearance in that article, which goes on to say that, scientifically speaking, Timecop ?ranks among the world?s worst time-travel movies?. The best time travel movie? Bill and Ted?s Excellent Adventure. Whoa. Another follow-up article talks some more about the science of time travel.

As for literature, some memorable time travel stories for me are:

  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, natch?Stephen Baxter?s sequel, The Time Ships, was also pretty good, if memory serves. Baxter continues the original?s writing style quite well.

  • Millennium by John Varley (an expansion of his short story Air Raid ? The premise is that the polluted future uses time travel to harvest body parts by retrieving people from the past who are about to die in an airplane crash.

  • The Men Who Murdered Mohammed, a short story by Alfred Bester – A scientist walks in on his wife in the arms of another man. So he invents a time machine to go back in time and kill her grandfather. He return to see the present unchanged. So he tries again and again and again, each time upping the stakes. Now here?s a time travel story that hits the paradox head-on. An outstanding story of time travel told in a conversational style that sets the ?rules? by which timelines cannot be changed

  • As Never Was, a short story by P. Schuyler Miller ? In it, an archaeologist travels forward in time as his grandfather did before him. This story has one of the best opening paragraphs I?ve ever read; your compelled to read the rest of story!

    I?m sure there are others I?m forgetting…

  • About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
    John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

    2 Comments on Time Travel

    1. Timecop has Van Damme in it, of course its bad. And shouldn’t you have said “Excellent!” about Bill and Ted?

      How about these:

      Doomsday Book – Connie Willis

      Days of Cain – JR Dunn

      Neither of these books is a light time travel story…

    2. I haven’t read either of those, although I did read Willis’ related To Say Nothing of the Dog

      And would you believe I have also yet to read Bradbury’s Sound of Thunder?

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