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


Classification: Personal Alternate Reality

 

In The Butterfly Effect we follow the life of Evan Treborn, a kid – later a teenager – with an unusual condition. Occasionally when Evan is highly stressed, he blacks out for several minutes. What this means is that he has no memory of what has happened in these periods. But it’s not as if Evan falls in a coma: during these minutes, Evan does and says things – he just has no recollection of what it is he did.

 

When Evan grows up, he begins suspecting these are repressed memories, and he tries to deal with the emotional scarring by reading his childhood diaries. To his amazement, after reading one specific entry that mentioned a blackout, he finds himself back in time – precisely during the blackout period he has just read about. Even more shocking is the discovery that the actions he makes in the past have can change history: and this has the potential of propagating through time and eventually affecting the present.

 

As Evan later trains himself, by focusing while reading his diaries, he is able to travel to those moments he blacked out as a kid, and make different choices – returning to a world often very different from what he left. This is actually far more dangerous than it sounds: often these moments of high stress (where he blacked out) were pivotal moments in Evan’s life, so a tiny change can have an enormous effect on his entire future [which is precisely the meaning of the term 'The Butterfly Effect', by the way].

 

After becoming comfortable with his new found ability, Evan becomes obsessed with using it for a specific goal: he become determined to save Kayleigh, his childhood sweetheart, from her abusive father. For this he repeatedly journeys back through time.

 

Unlike many somewhat similar movies (i.e. Back to the Future), The Butterfly Effect is a very dark film. Some even may even say it is scary. During the course of the movie Evan travels multiple times, to various periods in his life. I’m going to give somewhat of a spoiler, so please skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read it. The point is, although Even repeatedly tries saving Kayleigh, he just seems to make things worse. Every attempt results in a worse and worse reality. In one version he’s in prison, in another he’s an amputee. But every situation is different – diverse – creative! This is what makes time travel books and movies so compelling – and The Butterfly Effect does a very good job at this.

 

Another thing I liked about the Butterfly Effect is that it is filled with mysteries: since we see things from Evan’s perspective, there are many gaps in the plot which are slowly revealed later in the movie. For example, during one of his first blackouts, Evan is playing with his friends, a very peaceful situation. Suddenly, finding himself after a blackout, Evan and all his friends are running away in terror. We know something terrible has happened. But they refuse to discuss this, even years afterwards. What just happened there? This is a pivotal moment in Evan’s life, we later find out. The plot is very well written in this respect, building mysteries gradually and slowly unraveling their secrets in a satisfying way.

 

Admittedly, when I first heard of The Butterfly Effect I had mixed feelings. The premise sounded superb, but then again, Ashton Kutcher playing a time traveler… I don’t know. But I have to say, Ashton did an admirable job.

 

An additional criticism is that there are quite a lot of holes in the plot. Although I’m really not a stickler when it comes to movie details (suspension of disbelief is required for watching any fictional movie), here the number of plot holes is rather large. Nonetheless, I can’t say it interfered with my enjoyment. Just keep this in mind.

 

In summary: A must for a time travel lover. Although the movie didn’t do that well, and I suspect many people would disagree with the high score I gave it, personally, I loved it. I thought it’s a fantastic and worthy addition to the growing collection of time-traveling movies. Highly recommended! Too bad the sequel was quite lame.

 


Link to the DVD on Amazon

 

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fabulousriverboat

Classification: Historical Characters

 

The Fabulous Riverboat is the second book in the Riverworld saga.

 

The Riverworld: a place where everybody who has ever lived has been resurrected, and now must seek out a place for himself in this brave new world. From Abraham Lincoln to Al Capone, everyone is there.

 

The Fabulous Riverboat continues the plot which started in To Your Scattered Bodies Go. This time the protagonist is Sam Clemens also known as Mark Twain.

 

During the time that has passed since the resurrection, there have been some attempts to make order. Numerous ‘countries’ have been organized. Some are dictatorships, others are democratic. Some are friendly, other are warlike. In addition, the people from the technological eras are pretty much in the same state as primitive humans. Don’t forget, since everyone has been resurrected and the planet has no history, there are no factories or available technology whatsoever. And even though the knowledge to obtain this certainly exists in the population, tracking down the right person among the billions of humans, with no phones or internet, is no simple task.

 

Sam Clemens has met a mysterious being claiming to be a rebel of the group that created the Riverworld and resurrected humanity there. The being supports his goal to explore the river, and instructs him where he can find iron deposits which he can use to construct the riverboat. In addition, obtaining the iron will be extremely useful in defending the venture from hostile societies; since metal is very rare on the Riverworld, everyone who possesses it, will have a big advantage over his enemies.

 

The choice of Clemens as a leader of this venture is perfect considering his vast experience in building and piloting riverboats on the Mississippi. But before that can be accomplished, he must ward off multiple hostile ‘countries’ who also want the iron – and must ally himself with one of the biggest villains in history, John Lackland (one of the historical kings of England). In the course of the events described in the book, we also meet other interesting characters from history including: Cyrano de Bergerac, the Nazi Hermann Goring, famous viking leader Odysseus, and more.

 

Although not a bad book, this is the weakest in the series. As before, the book is well written, and the historical characters are as fascinating. Sam Clemens makes a very interesting protagonist. However, the quest to obtain the iron and build a boat is not too interesting, and generally feels like a filler – something to delay the heroes until they can get their journey started.

 

If it were possible to skip this book, I’d say do so – as the next books are much better. But unfortunately it is a necessary element of the Riverboat saga, and so, definitely worth the effort.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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scatteredbodies

Classification: Historical Characters

 

To Your Scattered Bodies Go is the first book in the Riverworld saga.

 

Imagine: at the end of your life, you die; but whether you expect heaven or hell, reincarnation, or simply oblivion, you find yourself waking up naked, young again, at the shores of an endless river in a strange world. And you are not alone: it appears that everybody who has ever lived has been resurrected in this brave new world. Imagine: if you search hard enough, you will find: Albert Einstein, Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler, Heath Ledger, Buddha, John Lennon, Al Capone, Robin Hood, John F. Kennedy and even Saddam Hussein – they are all there! Some are prehistoric people, others are from the future – but they are all present, all in the same bewildering situation. The Riverworld saga has one of the most amazing premises I’ve ever seen. Maybe even the best premise. The number of possible stories is infinite.

 

In the first book, the protagonist is Sir Richard Francis Burton, the famous 19th century explorer. The last thing he expected is to die and find himself in the Riverworld. Finding himself – just like everyone – with an indestructible container that can be used to gain meals three times a day, and also contains cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, a lighter and a lipstick, sir Richard tries to make sense of his new life.

 

Not long after waking up, Richard and a few people he befriended, including: Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the grown up inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), a Neanderthal, a holocaust survivor, and an alien that happened to reach Earth in the 21st century, decide to build a riverboat and go up the river in the hopes of finding who has resurrected everybody – and why. But this is no simple feat since many of humanity’s worst examples (such as the Nazi Hermann Goring) have been resurrected as well.

 

The book is fantastic. Using so many historical figures provides an amazingly deep setting that can and is used very creatively. The first book in particular is the best as it enables us to experience the wonder through the eyes of multiple famous protagonists.

 

The author did a fantastic job at researching these individuals. Often we see references to anecdotes that do not make much sense, but if one searches them (say, on Wikipedia), one can understand the meaning. It makes the story so much more realistic. It feels as if we’re reading the adventures of a real pesron.

 

In summary: Superb! An absolute treat that all sci-fi lovers will enjoy.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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falling

Classification: Personal Time Travel

 

In Falling we are introduced to Jude, a young woman living in future London who was born with a special ability: Jude is a ReTracer, a person who can travel to any point in her own history. This special ability confers many advantages, so unsurprisingly Jude works as an agent for the government.

 

But someone wants to kill Jude, someone who also has the ability to jump through time. This person has attempted to kill her in several different periods – and will eventually succeed if not stopped. Who is this person and why does he want to kill her? And so, Jude starts traveling to various points in her own history in an attempt to discern who her nemesis is.

 

Although the premise is excellent, and the author has created a near-future setting that is both believable and intriguing, I can’t say I liked the book, mainly because of the disjointed and confused writing. The writing is also very fast paced, normally something I’d find appealing, but because of the problematic style, it made the story hard to follow at times.

 

Do I recommend this book? I really did not enjoy reading it, but perhaps I should give this book a second chance, as frankly, all the components were promising.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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replay

 

Classification: Personal Alternate Reality

 

Replay is one of the greatest books I have ever read. Maybe even my favorite book. I’ll try to make sure my review does it justice.

 

Jeff Winston is a rather unsuccessful journalist, living an unhappy life with his wife Linda. Not longer after he turns 43, in October 1988, Jeff suffers a major heart attack – one he does not survive. But instead of finding himself in the afterlife, Jeff finds himself back in 1963, in his 18 year old body. Quickly, Jeff begins enjoying his youth again (it is as the saying goes: “Wisdom is wasted on the youth”). More importantly, he realizes he has 25 years of future knowledge: personal decisions that went wrong, major political and economical events, knowledge of companies that became big and companies that did not survive the times. Armed with this invaluable knowledge, Jeff is able to become a very wealthy person in his early 20s.

 

Until this point, there is not much of a difference between this and many other books and movies. It now changes.

 

Determined to avoid the mistakes he’s made before, and remembering the day, time and location where he originally met Linda, his wife, Jeff decides to do it right this time. Butterflies in his stomach, he goes to meet Linda again. Imagine his surprise when after introducing himself, Linda brushes him off quite rudely. Turns out that the new version of Jeff, wealthy and probably more confident than his original young self, does not appeal to Linda. Jeff continues trying to woo Linda for a while (he still remembers where she lives), but to no avail. He eventually accepts this fate, marries a different woman, and learns to enjoy his comfortable new life.

 

The year 1988 encroaches, and Jeff is 43 year again. He begins to worry something may happen. He routinely works out to make sure he’s in good shape, and makes sure a team of doctors supervise him. They assure him: he’s in perfect health and faces no imminent heart attack.

 

But they are wrong. At exactly the same moment, Jeff suffers yet another (from his mental perspective) heart attack. He dies. Again. And finds himself, once again, in the year 1963, in his 18 year old body.

 

What does he do? I won’t reveal the answer to that, but I will say that this is not the last time Jeff dies and is reborn. Each time he makes different choices that affect both himself and the world in general. Each time he lives life differently. He continues a romance he originally abandoned. He tries warning the world of looming disasters – and gets in trouble with the CIA (who think he has terrorist connections). He tries finding other people like himself. He tries to create the ultimate piece of entertainment by recruiting famous actors and directors (George Lucas, Steven Spielberg) years before they got famous. Until the end – which I won’t reveal.

 

Replay has a great story, very memorable characters, and is highly thought provoking. Although Replay appears to be a rather simple novel on the surface, it is much more profound than that, as it asks major questions: Is life about accumulating wealth and personal belongings? Is life about being with one’s family? Is life about trying new adventures? Is life simply about going through one’s mundane daily routine? What does it mean for a person to have all of his achievements vanish: whether they be wealth, creations of art, fame or even family.

 

Since these are questions we all have to deal with, Replay provides what can only be summarized as a spiritual journey. I believe this is precisely the reason Replay became such a successful novel: because it deals with – possibly – the biggest question of all: What is the meaning of life?

 

Years ago, I used to read Replay every couple of months. Although I no longer do that, even now, some two decades afterwards, Replay still feels to me like one of those books that changed something in me. That made me question my core values. Despite the great story, the surprising twists and turns, and the outstanding characters – I don’t think there can be any higher complement for a book – and an author – than that. Replay is one of my all time favorite books. It is as good as it gets.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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