Ultimate Time Travel
Books, Movies, TV Shows and Everything Time Travel


Classification: Effects of Time Travel Technologies on Society

 

Imagine: one day you are outside, lying on your back and watching the stars with your two best friends. Suddenly, something happens: the stars vanish, all at once. Just like that. This is how Spin begins.

 

In Spin we are introduced to Tyler Dupree, the protagonist, and his two closest friends, the twins Jason and Diane Lawton. Tyler, Jason and Diane were doing exactly what I described in the previous paragraph: watching the night sky when all the stars suddenly vanished. This event which has occurred everywhere has come to be called the “Spin”.

 

At first no one knew what happened. It seemed that the Spin is some sort of an artificial barrier created around the Earth, by someone with clearly an infinitely greater understanding of technology than humanity. For reasons of their own, the Hypotheticals (as people have started calling them), have chosen to erect this barrier.

 

The barrier’s goal is actually not to hide the stars: that’s merely a side effect. The goal is much subtler than that. Although the barrier is permeable, meaning, objects can pass through it, time goes much faster outside the barrier than in it. Much, much, much faster: for every year that passes on Earth, 100 million years pass outside. Think about it: every minute that passes on Earth is equivalent to centuries outside the barrier.

 

This is a truly scary situation Humanity has suddenly found itself in. Current predictions give the Solar System 4 additional billion years: in human terms, this is infinitely long: but with the Spin intact, this will happen in only 40 years. Meaning, most adult humans will live to experience this. And what then? Is that the goal of the Hypotheticals – to destroy humanity and Earth?

 

In Spin the way humanity is dealing with this event is examined from two different perspectives. The first is the practical one: obviously, many nations attempt to destroy the barrier, multiple times. But there are other ways of dealing with this issue. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but the fact that time goes MUCH faster outside the barrier is a huge advantage from some aspects. For example, what if one attempted to terraform mars with Earth microbes. If one does this correctly, this could work. Of course, it could take a couple of hundred thousand years… but that’s only a few days from Earth’s perspective. And if that worked.. what if a spaceship with settlers was sent to colonize Mars with the goal of inhabiting it, and eventually work on a way to neutralize Earth’s barrier from outside. A day in Earth would mean centuries have passed for them. Very interesting ideas, don’t you think? I won’t elaborate beyond that.

 

The second perspective is how humanity collectively deals with the fact that in just a couple of decades it will probably cease to exist. Is there a point in having kids, if their lives are going to be so short? Is there a point in investing in a pension fund, if you won’t live to that age? Maybe there’s no point in living at all? Spin does a superb job in dealing with these complex issues and questions. [Note that in The Chronoliths, another novel by the same author that I reviewed, similar issues are examined from a different perspective (and reason)]

 

Spin is an excellent novel on every conceivable measure. It has a fantastic and imaginative plot. It has deep and well developed characters. It feels completely realistic (in fact, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a movie made at some point). Finally, it it extremely well written: one frequent criticism of science fiction is that often the ideas they present are good, but as for the writing, well, that generally leaves much to be desired. Well – I think that Spin could win awards for writing as well. (It did win a Hugo, but surely that’s “only” because of the brilliant concepts and ideas it raises).

 

In summary: highly, highly recommended, Spin is immediately a classic. Every year there are 1 (sometime 2) book I consider my personal favorite book of the year. In 2006, Spin was that book. You can’t go wrong with Spin. If you pick one book to read this year, pick Spin.

 


The book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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Classification: Future Reality

 

The protagonist of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is Captain William Anthony “Buck” Rogers, a NASA pilot who flies an experimental shuttle in 1987. But a life support failure causes him to freeze – enter suspended animation – only to be successfully revived 500 years afterwards, in the 25th century (specifically, the year 2491).

 

After recovering from the shock of discovering everyone he has ever known is dead, Buck starts exploring the new world of the 25th century, and this is the focus of the show. Buck’s pilot and military training immediately qualify him to serve in the Earth Defense forces. Together with Colonel Wilma Deering, they embark on numerous adventures whose goal is saving the world.

 

As Buck finds out, much has changed in this time: the Earth is now a member of an interstellar empire controlled by Humans, and alien species – both friendly and hostile – have been long discovered. Unfortunately, the world is still a dangerous place. Thus, Buck often embarks on various missions to save the Earth from the series’ main villain, Princess Ardala – A ruthless (and yet attractive) maniac who wants nothing except to conquer the Earth and make Buck her mate [very 70s, I know]. There are other villains, of course.

 

Later on, Buck embarks on a space mission whose goal is looking for lost ‘pockets’ of humanity that have been in hiding since the nuclear war that has occurred on Earth in the 20th century.

 

During his adventures, Buck is brought in contact with various friends and foes: Hawk, an bird-like alien who’s the last surviving member of his species. Crichton, an arrogant Robot. There was also this weird alien creature that could ‘phase’ – and pass through living object (he used to be my favorite) – can’t remember how he was called, but he always used to freak me out.

 

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is one of the TV shows I grew up on as a kid, so it’s possible this review is somewhat biased. It is also possible I’d view it differently if I were to watch it now. But as a kid, I absolutely loved every single aspect of the show: the adventures, the characters, the new universe, the fact Buck is 500 years away from home. It was all so super-cool. Not to mention that I used to think that Buck is the epitome of what a guy should be (hey, I was 7), and had an early crush on Col. Deering (well she WAS very pretty).

 

Since this show was made in the 70s, it is similar to many other sci-fi shows of the time, for better or worse. i.e. Buck has a new girl every episode, though Colonel Wilma Deering is always the ‘true love’ just waiting for him.

 

In Summary: I can’t promise the show has aged well – though I remember it as a wonderful, creative and fun TV show I used to look forward to every week. I’m pretty sure I would still get a kick out of watching it now (I’m actually thinking of ordering the DVD.. hmm). If you’re in your late 20s and above, you’re probably going to love the show. Younger audiences might feel it is somewhat outdated.

 

By the way, I always felt Farscape (that fantasticSci-Fi show was in one large homage to Buck Rogers – even the into was very similar to Buck Rogers’ intro. Now that was one good show).

 


Link to the DVD of the entire series on Amazon

 

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Classification: Alternate Reality

 

In Einstein’s Bridge we are introduced to George Griffen and Roger Coulton, two physicists who attempt to get the SSC (Superconducting Super Collide) up and running in order to discover the elusive Higgs Boson. Once operational, they notice a curious side effect in their experiment: a heavy particle (which they name ‘the Snark’), emerges through a microscopic wormhole – a “Bridge” – created by the collider. This should have been impossible. Even more strangely, this particle emits radioactive pulses in prime number sequences [this is in fact one way we look for Extra Terresterial Intelligence: by sending codes that could not occur in nature randomly, such as the sequence of primes). This can only mean that some kind of extra terrestrial intelligence is behind this: but from where?

 

As George and Roger manage to find out, these are messages sent by the Makers, alien beings from an alternate universe with a single goal: make contact with whomever they find and get them to stop doing such experiments.

 

How could this present any danger, George and Roger ask? The problem is that this type of experiment opens a wormhole, which – for contemporary human technology – is virtually useless, but for more advanced civilizations, it is possible to send multiple nanobots that quickly replicate and recreate whatever the aliens wish to create on the other end. Unlike the Makers, who are a friendly civilization, the Hive, a malevolent alien insectoid collective entity living in yet another alternate universe, preys on civilizations that open these wormholes. Once this occurs, quickly the planet is taken over by replicas of the Hive.

 

In order to assist in the preparation (and the necessary political convincing to close such a huge project), the Makers send a representative through the bridge. But is is too late: just a few days after the Maker’s arrival, the Hive discovers the bridge as well and starts sending legions of nanobots through the opening. It looks as if the Earth is doomed. But then, at the last minute, the Maker uses a capability he has not shared until this moment: he sends George and Roger back in time, gives them a few extra abilities (through alien nanotechnology) and asks them to change future events so that the SSC is never built, and thus, the Earth never meets the Hive.

 

Einstein’s Bridge had a very interesting plot, in particular since it combines several concepts in a unique way (aliens, alternate universes, nanotechnology, collective intelligence and time travel). The characters were interesting, and on top of that, the author clearly understands the science involved: this was truly a hard core sci-fi novel. Overall the first half of the book was really quite good.

 

BUT, and this is the first time I’ve ever given such a criticism: the book’s structure was simply bizarre. The weird thing about the book is that it reaches the climax somewhere halfway through the novel. The rest of the plot just.. ties loose ends (no mystery or anything). And then the book ends. Just like that. No twist, no surprise. Nothing. I’ve never read anything like this. Regardless of the plot, this is no way to write a novel! It’s quite a shame, because other than that, the book is really not bad. It just ruins much of the fun.

 

In summary: until the middle of the book, it is really quite good. Later it quickly deteriorates. I’d recommend either getting the book and stopping in the middle (you’ll know when you reach the part). OR come prepared for some frustrating reading. Then again, maybe the book is simply not worth it – this depends on how much the premise intrigues you.

 


Link to the book on Amazon.com

 

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Classification: Past and Future Time Travel

 

In The Time Tunnel, we are introduced to a secret government research facility buried deep in the (Arizona?) desert. There, a team of scientists has built a time machine called ‘The Time Tunnel’. Why exactly is this machine built is never explained: conveiably, the government envisioned some sort of information gathering abilities.

 

As often with this type of expensive program, there comes a time when a political hotshot attempts to shut it down. Growing alarmed at this prospect, one of they key scientists, Dr. Tony Newman, sends himself back in time in order to prove that it works. His plan succeeds: he finds himself in the past… on the sinking Titanic! (Out of all the places..)

 

Unfortunately, from some unknown technical reasons, the team in the present discovers it is unable to recall Tony: pull him back to the present. They do, however, maintain the ability to witness what Tony is experiencing, but that is no help. Tragically, it seemed Tony is doomed to go down with the Titanic!

 

But Dr. Doug Phillips, Tony’s colleague and good friend, refuses to accept this. He, too, activates the Time Tunnel and sends himself to the Titanic. I’ll stop here. You’ll have to see the first episode to find out how it resolves.

 

During the rest of the show, we see that the research team is unable to recall Doug and Tony. However, as said, they are able to view what is going on with them, as well as occasionally send the odd useful item to the past. Although they keep attempting to recall them, this never works. Though at times someone else, a native of the current time, is occasionally pulled to the present. That being said, they are always eventually able to transport Tony and Doug to other periods of history in the hope that they’ll eventually return home.

 

Strangely enough, Doug and Tony have a knack of finding themselves in historical situations, usually just about the time things are about to go wrong. But fortunately, both are quite knowledgable about various historical eras, so they usually manage to come out unharmed. Truly bizarre, no? I’ve always wondered why can’t Doug and Tony find themselves stuck in a really good time for a while, sipping Margaritas on the beach ;) . But no can do. Let’s just say it is this way: if The Time Tunnel: The Next Generation is ever to be made, in the first episode, Doug and Tony would find themselves on the top floor of Twin Towers during 9/11. Mark my words.

 

As someone who did not grow up in the United States, for me The Time Tunnel represents the ultimate time travel show. When I was a kid, whenever a new Time Tunnel episode was released, I – together with all of my friends – would watch it in awe. Although it is quite possible that from a grownup’s perspective it won’t seem the masterpiece that I remember it to be, I’d take that risk any day. It really was a very good show – me, my friends, our parents – we were all glued to the screen.

 

During their adventures, Doug and Tony visit the Titanic, a future expedition to the moon, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Civil War, Nazi Germany in WW 2, the French revolution, Troy (before it fell), the old west (when Aliens took over!) and many more places. This offered a truly diverse set of stories, settings and historical characters.

 

What I particularly loved about The Time Tunnel is the seriousness in which it was made. It’s almost as if the producers wanted to us to learn history – the plot never turned into Kitsch or slapstick (as too many modern shows do). It just felt real.

 

In summary: Interesting, fun, serious, diverse, challenging, scary at times (ah, the episode where Aliens took over the present), the Time Tunnel is the ultimate Time Travel television show. Although it will definitely look outdated (it was made in the 60s), if you can let that fact go, I’m sure you’ll have a blast.

 


The Time Tunnel – Volume One on Amazon

 


The Time Tunnel – Volume Two on Amazon

 

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endofanera1

 

Classification: Past Time Travel

 

The last book I read by Robert J. Sawyer was “Calculating God”, which was a phenomenal book, and became one of my all time favorites. Hoping for another book of the same caliber, I got “End of an Era”. In my experience, it’s not often that an author writes two superb novels in a row – but Mr. Sawyer managed to do just that!

 

As for the plot:
Brandon Thackery, a Canadian Paleontologist (sounds familiar? Sawyer’s protagonist in “Calculating God” was a Canadian Paleontologist as well) receives an amazing offer. He – together with Miles “Klicks” Jordan, his best friend/nemesis (Miles stole Brandon’s wife) – are to travel back in time 65 million years in order to, potentially, resolve one of the greatest contemporary mysteries: discover what killed the dinosaurs. How can any paleontologist say no to such an offer? Of course he accepts.

 

Once Brandon and Miles arrive to the past, they get to witness, in person, the late Mesozoic era, and watch and interact with dinosaurs. But there are a few unexpected things… really unexpected things. First, the Earth’s gravity is about a third of what it should be. Second, there is a second moon in Earth’s orbit. Third, and most surprising, the earth is populated by enigmatic intelligent aliens, which apparently can control the dinosaurs.

 

Faced with this strange situation, Brandon finds himself investigating the original mystery he set to resolve – and in addition discover how the Earth could’ve changed so much in merely 65 million years.

 

I am sure this setting already has you intrigued, and trust me, this book promises and delivers!

 

“End of an Era” was a fantastic, fabulous story and I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it. It contains everything a good science fiction story should have: a great idea, great writing, fast pace, hard science, and themes which remain with you long after you finish the book. And believe me, you won’t forget this book for a while.

 

In my opinion, this book would literally appeal to everyone: to those who like action and adventure, as well as those who love serious themes. The book continues the ideas started in “Calculating God”, although is a bit lighter and less serious. All in all: a fantastic science fiction novel.

 


Link to the book on Amazon.com

 

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chronospace

 

Classification: Past Time Travel

 

Chronospace was one of the novels I really couldn’t wait to read. In fact, I dedicated an entire day to just sit at home and read it, something I haven’t done in years!

 

Imagine: UFOs are really not extraterrestrial vehicles but are actually time machines used by historians from the future who want to study the past. Sounds good, even if somewhat unoriginal, no? Well, the entire book was a mixture of good ideas, but the end product was bad. It’s as if the author couldn’t make up his mind what he wanted to write about. Time Travel, aliens, paradoxes: these all sound like fine ingredients for a good story, but somehow the author has managed to get it very, very wrong.

 

The plot: Franc Lu, a 24th century historian, is being sent back in time to view what happened on the Hindenburg: witness first hand the destruction and what caused it. But somehow, he makes some changes, causing history to diverge and a paradox to be created. A parallel storyline follows David Zachary Murphy, a scientist working for NASA at the end of the 20th century. David comes up with the (correct) theory that UFOs are really time machines. How do both these threads join together? Just barely, and not in an interesting way. Read the book if you want to find out.

 

In summary: Very, Very Disappointing. I don’t recommend this book. There are far better time travel stories, which cover very similar ideas in a superior way. (check out Joshua Dann’s Timeshare novels if you want a glimpse). The reason I’m not giving this book one star is because it did capture my attention for about a third of it – until this point I was still convinced it might turn out to be a decent novel. But sadly this hope shattered.

 


Link to the book on Amazon.com

 

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Time Travel Movies