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

aworldoutoftime

Classification: Future Reality

 

After finding out he has terminal cancer, Jaybee Corbell decides to place himself in suspended animation in the hope that in the future it will be possible to revive him and cure his cancer. After all, he is only in his mid 40s, and surely in the future it’ll be a simple matter to cure him. 200 years pass, and Jaybee wakes up in a world very different from what he remembers – strangely, in a body not his own.

 

As Jaybee quickly finds out, in the 22nd century, the world is controlled by a single totalitarian government, and he does not have any rights anymore. In fact, he has only been brought back from the dead (his consciousness placed in the body of a mindwiped criminal) to perform a task as ‘payment’ for his resurrection. His mission: pilot a spaceship towards unknown space, and find planets suitable for terraforming. He is informed that unless he complies, a different consciousness will be placed in the body he occupies – effectively, destroying everything that’s left of him.

 

Jaybee pretends to be complying, but when he is certain he could no longer be stopped, he redirects his spaceship towards a black hole in the center of the galaxy. His goal is to benefit from relativity, that is, reach a a spatial area where time travels slower in relation to normal space. Ideally, this will propel him enough into the future that he could return back without any repercussions.

 

His attempt is a success and when he finally reaches Earth, he finds out that 3 million years have passed. However, in this time the Earth has become a much worse place than it was before. In this terrible future, the Earth is controlled by the Boys, the immortal descendants of humanity (who look like children) who capture him. What will he do? I don’t want to spoil the book, so read the book to find out.

 

This is one of the first time travel books I’ve ever read, and I consider it one of the classics. It has many of the ingredients necessary for a good time travel story: a diverse journey to the future (or the past), interesting setting/s, and a driven protagonist. Although the book does suffer from a malady many other older science fiction novels suffer from, namely, poor characterization, it still makes a very fun read and is highly enjoyable.

 

In summary: Not Niven’s greatest creation (that would be “The Mote in God’s Eye”), but still an excellent book, I recommend this to anyone who wants to a light read and does not expect a masterpiece.

 


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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.

 


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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.

 


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bonesoftheearth

Classification: Past Time Travel

 

Bones of the Earth introduces us to paleontologist Richard Leyster. One day, in the very near future, a government agent steps into Richard’s office and offers him the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to study real, live dinosaurs. Using a time machine, whose mysterious origins are only given at the end of the novel, several researchers would be transported to the past, specifically, the several eras between the Triassic to the Cretaceous, and will be able to study creatures indigenous to these time periods.

 

Even though at this point the book may appear to be very similar to many other novels, the standard “paleontologist travels back in time to see dinosaurs” story, it has several unique subplots.

 

Many time travel novels fail to perceive the entire scope of the effect time travel technology could have. For example, if someone has a time machine, what’s to stop him from going to the future and finding the solutions of problems he’s currently working on? Bones of the Earth does not fall in this trap. For starters, since the agency organizing the expedition is going to exist in the future as well as the present, the researchers it sends back in time may come from many different times. Consequently, it is possible that knowledge that is widely available in the time of some members will not have been discovered yet in the others’ time. If a slip up occurs, it has the potential of changing the timeline, something the organization wants to avoid at all costs. Furthermore, it’s even possible that the two separate ‘versions’ of the same person from two different periods will work together, as long as the older version does not reveal anything to the younger version.

 

An additional subplot deals with a fundamentalist terrorist group that is determined to infiltrate the organization, and send objects through time so it could discredit archeology forever. These terrorists aim to send modern as well as fictional artifacts to the past, so that archeologists will find them in the present. Something like this has the potential of doing great harm.

 

The novel speculates a lot on the ecology and behavior of prehistoric creatures. This increases the realism of the plot, since the protagonist is a paleontologist, and also makes for a very interesting read. Whether or not the author is correct in his theories is besides the point.

 

All in all, the book is populated by a large number of interesting – and not so interesting – characters. Scientists, religious nuts, terrorists. Not to mention the “Old Man”, the enigmatic person who has total control of the organization. It’s a stimulating tale of time travel that offers a few new perspectives on a popular premise. However, some of the subplots were boring and overall, I felt the book was trying to accomplish too much (the love story and the sex scenes probably could’ve been removed!). It was definitely not an easy read – the reader really has to pay attention to all the details.

 

Although I recommend this book, I feel I could give it a higher ranking because I found some of the subplots to be boring, and in general, the book was a challenging read.

 


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thewatch

Classification: Historical Characters

 

Peter Kropotkin, a real Russian revolutionary who lived between the years 1942-1921, was an anarchist advocating for a communist society free from central government. The Watch asks the question: what would’ve happened, if just before he died, a being from the far future came to Peter Kropotkin and offered him to live life as a young man. The catch: it would be in 1999, and it would be in the United States. This is the premise for The Watch.

 

In The Watch, Peter Kropotkin accepts the offer made by Anchee, the being from the future, and tries to make a life for himself in modern day Virginia. He gets a job, meets a girlfriend, find friends and an apartment. Life in modern day America forces Peter to deal with contemporary issues such as tattoos, piercing, homosexuality, Capitalism among others. In addition, he meets other people whom Anchee has transported from the past (such as a doctor from the Civil War).

 

This novel enables the reader to examine modern day USA through the eyes of an early 20th century anarchist. Definitely an interesting point of view. In general, I like this type of premise, as I find that the usage of historical figures, if well written, greatly enhances most plots since the author is required to stick to the personality of a real human being (most notably done in the Riverboat series by Philip Jose Farmer). However, I didn’t like it here. For starters, I thought Peter Kropotkin is just not interesting enough to be the protagonist of a book, nor is he a likable character. The same can be said for Anchee; he was supposed to be mysterious and enigmatic, but really he was just plain unpleasant. Furthermore, I found the plot somewhat – what’s the word I’m looking for – antagonizing. The entire novel felt like an excuse for the protagonist to preach his ideas – there was no real discussion of any topic, just a monologue by Peter about virtually everything he encountered. I’m quite certain this was in fact the author’s rationale of writing the novel.

 

To be completely honest, I think I can attribute some of my dislike of the book to the fact that I simply don’t agree with Peter’s opinions. In other words, I am not an anarchist or a communist. That being said, I believe that a differently written novel with the same premise would not have me so irritated; it’s the preachy manner in which the book was written that I found so unbearable. I won’t say the book was not interesting (it definitely was!), but the fact is, I did not enjoy it.

 

All in all, if the premise intrigues you, you might as well try The Watch. I didn’t particularly like it, but it may be more to your own liking. Let me know what you think.

 


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whispers

Classification: Past Time Travel

 

One day Lucas and Maude Hawthorn wake up only to discover Edwin Limmer, someone they met in 1952, standing before them. The strange thing is, Edwin appears to be significantly younger than what either of them remembers. To their amazement, they discover Edwin was sent by the enigmatic whispers, mysterious creatures from the future that can barely be heard or seen, to recruit Lucas to an important mission. The mission: discover the beginning of time.

 

Realizing this requires him to wage war on an evil tyrant determined to gain immortality, Lucas’ life is thrown upside down when he journeys to various pasts and futures.

 

This book was simply boring. Not only I constantly had a feeling of ‘been there, read that’, but it was also written in a very confusing way and was not very engaging. Although this is the first in a series (not sure of how many books), I didn’t bother obtaining any of the other books.

 


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herethereeverywhere

Classification: Past and Future Time Travel

 

Roxanne Bonaventure is 11 years old. One day, on her way back from school, she meets an old woman near death. But before she is able to talk to the woman or help her, the woman gives her a gift: a mysterious silver bracelet (which she later names the Sofia) and disappears in a flash of light. Not long afterward Roxanne discovers to her amazement and delight that the Sofia can transport her through time.

 

At first she uses the machine for fun: she decides to go to every Beatles concerts. Then she starts using it to improve her life: she uses it to discover information about a guy she has a crush on, and when her father becomes very ill, she uses it to travel to many different futures in search of a cure.

 

As she grows older, the novelty of time travel begins to wear. She’s seen it all: the future, the past, parallel universes – and nothing seems to surprise her. Moreover, these extensive travels bring her in contact with other time travelers, none of which has the unlimited time traveling capabilities she enjoys, and none of which know where her device came from. This makes Roxanne wonder: where did the Sofia come from? And who was the old woman who gave it? (was it her?). And so, she decides to find out, and sets on a journey that will take her to the far end of time and back to discover the hidden origins of the Sofia.

 

Although the book has an excellent premise (even if it is a bit of a cliche) and is generally well written, I found it a bit dull. None of the subplots seemed to be too original or had an unusual twist, and all in all, the book felt as if it lacked a focus – it felt more like a collection of loosely related short stories than a real novel. Consequently, I can’t say I was surprised to discover this is the author’s first novel. However, I’m sure the next would be better, since this book shows a lot of promise.

 

In general, I think this is a good book, but it could’ve been much better. If you really must read every time travel story, I say: go for it. Otherwise, you may want to skip this one.

 


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exaltationoflarks

Classification: Plot Device

 

Jesse Aylesworth’s life is perfect: he’s extremely popular with the girls, getting fabulous grades, and is even the editor of the student newspaper. But then it all changes when he meets a talking turtle who’s really a shapeshifting Indian claiming to be a time traveler from the end of time.

 

Turtle – as the Indian calls himself – tells Jesse that he’s been chosen to be a part of a select group of people who will be instrumental in recreating the universe by rewriting its physical laws: in exchange for immortality, Jesse will participate in this plan from the end of time that will result in all people receiving eternal life.

 

The plot becomes even more complicated once Jesse begins to suspect that an additional time traveler may be attempting to undermine Turtle’s plan – and this time traveler is posing as his girlfriend.

 

Sounds weird? I’m actually not sure that I’m conveying just how weird the book is. I’m not sure how to put it, but there was something very.. what’s the word I’m looking for – spiritual? intimate? – about this book. Something I haven’t seen in many books. I loved it.

 

In summary: Give this book a shot if my review has you intrigued. If it sounds just too weird, you probably won’t like it.

 


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timemachine

Classification: Future Reality

 

In The Time Machine, we are introduced to a British inventor (who is never named) living in London at the end of the 19th century. Using the technology of the time, he builds a machine capable of traversing time – a Time Machine. Out of curiosity and adventuring spirit, he embarks on a journey to the far future, namely, the year 802,701. This period is so far removed from our own society, that the human race has split into two races: the simple and peaceful Eloi, and the predatory Morlocks, both races clearly not as intelligent as an average 19th century human. The book chronicles of the adventures of the Time Traveler.

 

It may be hard to believe, but The Time Machine was written in 1895. It’s astounding to consider that this book – a book that attempted to predict the very far future – was written before World Wars I and II, before television, before computers, before commercial air flight. As a result of the enormous number of science fiction movies and books, we take such ideas for granted – but H.G. Wells was the first to come up with this concept. In fact, according to Wikipedia, H.G. Wells can be credited with inventing the very concept of a Time Machine, and certainly was the first to call such a machine a Time Machine. Consequently, as the first book in the Time Travel sub-genre, The Time Machine may feel like a cliche to modern readers. [Note that I've just found that Edward Page Mitchell wrote a short Time Travel story 14 years before Wells. Still, the fact this is a short story, and basically no one has heard of it, Wells still deserves the title]

 

Because of the book’s status, several authors have attempted to create unofficial sequels to The Time Machine. I review Stephen Baxter’s excellent ’sequel’, The Time Ships.

 

Judged on its own, the book is good but not great. However, put in context, namely, the period in which it was written, The Time Machine can and should be considered a classic. Considering the short length of the novel, I think every Time Travel lover should feel obligated to read it.

 


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accidentaltimemachine

 

Classification: Future Reality

 

Matt Fuller is a graduate student at MIT. During one of his experiments in measuring quantum relationships between gravity and light, he finds out that the machine he used for testing has an unexpected – and unexplained – side effect: it’s (sort off) a time machine! To his delight, Matt discovers that every time he activates it, the machine sends itself and metallic objects connected to it to the future, and interestingly, every time the trip is 12 times longer than the previous trip. Meaning, the first time it goes 1 second to the future, then 12 seconds, then 144 seconds (roughly 3 1/2 minutes) and so on.

 

Not long afterward, Matt’s girlfriend decides to leave him, and his boss decides to let him go. Realizing he has much to gain by proving to the world he has a time machine, Matt decides to journey to the not-so-distant future by buying a used car and connecting it to the machine. However, things don’t go as planned: the car seller drops dead after seeing Matt vanish before his eyes. All evidence points to Matt, and once he reappears, he is immediately charged with murder. After receiving mysterious help, Matt is able to escape and begins exploring ever more distant futures…

 

The premise – to me – sounded very good. Furthermore, I really like Joe Haldeman’s books and style of writing (short and concise), so when I bought the book I was quite certain it’s going to be excellent. However, the book somehow missed out. For starters, none of the futures Matt reaches is too interesting, and many feel like Cliches (the Utopian future, the future where humanity has reverted to barbarism, the ‘weird’ future, etc). True, it is hard to come up with truly original material, but many of these futures felt like they were ‘borrowed’ from other novels. In addition, I thought the ending is very anticlimactic and really quite disappointing.

 

To summarize: in general, a fun book, but don’t expect too much, in particular if you’re familiar with other Time Travel novels.

 


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Time Travel Movies