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


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: Plot Device

 

Donnie Darko, the protagonist of the film, is a seventeen year old strange teenager living in Virginia suffering from some serious mental issues (for which he takes medication). Donnie is a social outsider: he has difficulties interacting with his teachers. He is also not very good at making friends. The only person who understands him – at least more than the rest – is his girlfriend, Gretchen.

 

One night, while sleepwalking, Donnie goes outside his house. When he wakes up, he sees a man-sized, horrific looking bunny. The bunny, who calls himself Frank, tells him that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end. The strangeness doesn’t end here: while Donnie is speaking to Frank, an engine falls of a plane and crashes on the roof of Donnie’s house, destroying his room in the process. This bizarre sleepwalking incident saved Donnie’s life!

 

In the next few days, Donnie’s life turns even more surreal than it is. He begins hallucinating about Frank: at first Frank instructs him to vandalize the school mascot. Then he tries to convince Donnie that he can’t get into trouble anymore. Despite taking medications, and even undergoing hypnotherapy, Frank continues appearing to Donnie. Donnie is confused, more so by the fact Frank hints he can see him by usage of Time Travel, thus, making Donnie obsessed with the subject.

 

This is where I stop. I don’t want to say anything anymore, since the rest may spoil the plot.

 

Donnie Darko has one of the most unusual premises I’ve seen. When I first heard of it, I knew I absolutely had to watch it. And it doesn’t disappoint. Although it basically describes the life of one (almost) average teenager in high school: it’s not the average teenage movie by a long shot. Instead, Donnie Darko is a highly atmospheric, gloomy, creepy film, populated with grotesque characters. On top of that, the acting is superb and the soundtrack is exceptional (have you heard Gary Jules’ Mad World?).

 

While watching the movie, at first I was hooked by the big mysteries: Is Frank real? And if so, who is he? Why does he look like a large mutated bunny? Will the world really end in 28 days? But the film is memorable for other reasons. Although I don’t normally like surreal movies, Donnie Darko can be said to be a spiritual journey: it’s as if we are going on a journey with Donnie; during the course of the movie, we start to deeply care about the pitfalls he faces and his overall fate. I rarely get this feeling from movies or books (in fact, the only other example I have is of a novel I reviewed, An Exaltation of Larks).

 

The best part is the ending. It’s the kind of emotional yet unpredictable ending that makes you want to watch the whole thing again. Better yet, if the message speaks to you, you are changed by this story. Uplifted by Donnie’s journey.

 

I know some consider Donnie Darko to be highly overrated. Perhaps that may be true. But it is definitely one of my all time favorites. it is also quite hard to understand at times. Some say that to completely understand it, one must watch all the extra scenes in the special edition DVD – a claim I agree with.

 

In summary, Donnie Darko is not a cult movie by accident: it is thought provoking, surreal and beautiful. Unusually bizarre, and yet highly compelling, Donnie Darko is a must for lovers of the genre. That being said, it is likely that many would probably not like the film for these very reasons.

 


Click to see Donnie Darko (The Director’s Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) on Amazon

 

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Classification: Personal Alternate Reality

 

In what begins as a typical office movie (i.e. Office Space), we are introduced to Barry Thomas, a lowly officer worker sitting in his cubicle and dreaming of a better future. As we find out, Barry doesn’t really like his job; but he does like fantasizing about Lisa, an attractive, very senior scientist who works for the same firm. Unfortunately Lisa barely even notices Barry; he is so beneath her, on so many levels, that he’s literally insignificant from her perspective.

 

One day, on his way home after finishing work (coincidentally exactly when Lisa finishes her work), Barry witnesses a mysterious gunman driving by. To his shock and horror, the gunman shoots Lisa and kills her on the spot. Immediately afterwards, the gunman disappears. That night Barry goes to a bar and gets really drunk. In a weird turn of events, he somehow gets zapped by a powerful electricity surge – exactly at 12:01am.

 

His very next memory is waking up in his bed, having no clue how he got there. Puzzled, Barry continues with his daily routine. He goes to work, and to his amazement, notices that the day’s events are identical to the events of the day before. Even more bizarrely, no one seems to remember the previous day’s events, including Lisa’s death (which has affected everyone). When he tries to investigate what happened to her, he finds out – to his great shock – that Lisa is not dead at all, and very much alive. But the day’s events repeat themselves perfectly: after finishing work, Lisa gets murdered once again. It is then Barry realizes he somehow has gone back in time and is reliving the previous day’s events.

 

The next day begins, and Barry quickly finds out it’s the same day all over. But this time he refuses to accept this, and begins investigating what is going on. Determined to save Lisa, Barry begins unraveling the mystery, an investigation which leads him to a shady and dangerous conspiracy. However, he has a unique advantage: he can allow himself to do dangerous things, knowing that tomorrow everything will be reset, except for the knowledge he has gained.

 

Will Barry find out what happened? Will he save Lisa? Will he stop this temporal loop? Watch the movie to find out!

 

One of the most appealing aspects of the Time Travel sub-genre, to me, is the witnessing someone’s ability to make different actions, and the effect they have on the final outcome. There aren’t many movies that do that (though it does seem every science fiction show has at least one such episode: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stargate SG1, etc). 12:01 certainly does an admirable job at this: it offers a good mystery that is slowly unraveled during Barry’s investigation, a fast paced story, and decent acting. Not to mention Jeremy Piven as Barry’s sidekick. Overall, it’s definitely an excellent movie. The only reason I’m not giving it an even higher ranking is the fact that it lacks a certain ‘brilliance’ (which Groundhog’s Day had in my humble opinion). If the film had this – how shall I say – unique twist or a philosophical perspective – it could have become a classic. Then again, maybe all that is missing is Bill Murray in the main part. I don’t know. Unfortunately that is not the case.

 

Lacey shared an interesting anecdote with me about 12:01. Apparently, it used to be a series of 15 minute television movies on Showtime (probably) that later evolved to this movie. I never heard of this – shame, probably could have been really good.

 

In summary, 12:01 is a highly entertaining, fun action/sci-fi movie. Definitely recommended.

 


Link to the DVD on Amazon.com

 

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enchantment

Classification: Fantasy

 

In 1975, when Ivan Smetki was 10 years old, his family was forced to stay for a while in his uncle’s farm, which is located next to Kiev. One day, Ivan went on a small excursion in the woods and stumbled into a small clearing. When the wind pushed moving leaves, Ivan saw the pale shape of a sleeping woman. But there was something else – something malevolent. Panicking, Ivan ran away in fear. Not a long time afterward, the Smetski family moves to the US.

 

Many years pass, and Ivan is now a Ph.D. student working on a thesis dealing with Russian fairy tales. Although in the years since he stayed with his uncle Ivan always believed what he saw was a hallucination or a dream, he couldn’t forget it. Thus, when his research takes him back to Russia, he decides to look for the clearing he saw when he was a kid. To his great surprise, he finds it. And indeed there is a woman sleeping underneath the leaves. There is also something malicious guarding her – a huge bear.

 

Before he realizes what is going on, he is informed that the bear will kill him unless he agrees to marry the woman. This will break an enchantment that is placed on her (which is what kept her sleeping for so many years). Naturally, he proposes on the spot, and suddenly he – and the beautiful princess Katerina, apparently the source of the Sleeping Beauty tale – are living in 10th century Russia. Shattering romantic expectations of a trip through time, Ivan finds himself in a place where all his skills are worthless (what would a modern Russian scholar do in the 10th century?), and needs to prove himself to the locals.

 

The plot thickens when Ivan and Katerina find themselves back in the 20th century, fleeing the wrath of the Baba Yaga – the mythical Russian witch that actually placed the curse on Katerina – and Bear, the spellbound personification of Russian winter.

 

Enchantment combines elements of Folklore, Modern Fantasy and Time Travel. This is a really hard thing to do: very few novels manage to do this successfully, but this is one of those cases. There were also a lot of unexpected twists: time and again the novel managed to surprise me with original plot elements. A fantasy novel becomes great if it manages to convince you that there is a great universe in existence beyond the novel, with its own rules and limitations. This is the strength of Lord of the Rings. Here, too, the author manages to do a superb job in creating a highly believable universe. What I thought was weak in the novel is the characterization. The character of Ivan was not very realistic, and seemed to exist only to advance the plot. Sleeping Beauty, Princess Katerina, was also a one dimensional character (I also could not stand her!). However, the Baba Yaga is a fascinating villain, I greatly enjoyed the scenes told from her perspective. Bear was even better, and was my favorite character in the book.

 

To summarize: highly recommended. One of the most original stories I’ve ever read, extremely enjoyable. Although it is more a fantasy than a time travel story, it will appeal to lovers of both.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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endofeternity

Classification: Future Reality

 

Eternity is a futuristic organization whose goal is maintaining a stable yet prosperous society by altering various timelines in a very precise, scientific, manner [this is a recurring theme in Asimov's novels when one considers the Foundation series]. Spanning many millennia – from the 27th century to the 70,000th century – Eternity exists out of time: all eternals, as the employees of Eternity are called, reside in their own separate environment, a necessary condition so that they would not accidentally affect the timeline they observe.

 

Andrew Harlan, originally recruited from the 95th century, works as a technician for Eternity. His job consists of monitoring society in a range of several centuries; if he discovers something wrong (as per Eternity’s specifications), he steps in and ‘corrects’ it using Minimum Necessary Change, as it is called, to achieve the desired change in the timeline. One day, against his better judgment, and despite the fact it is forbidden, Andrew finds himself falling in love with a woman of residing in the societies he observes and must correct. Unwilling to let her be ‘erased’ when her timeline is changed, and fully understanding the gravity of this actions, Andrew becomes determined to save her. This, however, may have such wide ranging repercussions that Eternity itself is toppled.

 

The End of Eternity is not just one of the best Time Travel books – it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and can be considered one of the great classics of Science Fiction. Asimov, being the grandmaster that he is, has created a fascinating and imaginative futuristic society. Written in his usual terse style, which personally I find appealing, The End of Eternity is a joy to read.

 

Asimov tackles some interesting philosophical questions, such as the delicate balance between refining what society has, and the need to take risks and explore new grounds. Furthermore, he skillfully addresses many of the questions that result from time travel: suppose we obtain a log from the future which contains a record of a someone performing a task; what does this really mean: can we rely on future history to tell us what the man is going to do, or does it merely indicate that the author of the log believed the man did what is ascribed to him? These are subtle issues, not often mentioned in a sub-genre that, in many ways, is dedicated to them. This is what makes the book not just a great novel, but a timeless classic.

 

In summary, this is a book that should not be missed. Science Fiction at its very best!

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com


 

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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.

 


Link to the book on Amazon.com

 

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timetravellerswife

Classification: Personal Time Travel

 

The Time Traveler’s wife is one of the very few science fiction novels that’s been so successful, it’s no longer considered a genre novel anymore by some. In fact, I found my copy in the ‘Fiction’ section of the book store.

 

In The Time Traveler’s Wife we are introduced to Henry De Tamble, a librarian with a curious medical disorder (”Chrono-Displacement Disorder)”, and to Clare Abshire, an artist from a wealthy family. The book describes the unconventional love story between Clare and Henry, from the very beginning to its bitter-sweet end.

 

What makes the book different from any other romance is Henry’s disorder. All his life, seemingly at random, Henry is occasionally being transported in time to places of importance in his past or future. He has no control over the timing or the length of the trip. Although some may think this might be fun, it most certainly is not: it completely destabilizes Henry’s life, since at any given moment he cannot rely on himself to be present, not to mention the fact he always appears naked, which can be dangerous both in terms of unfriendly people and in terms of cold weather. As a result of Henry’s condition, when Clare first meets Henry, she is a little girl. When Henry first meets Clare, he is in his twenties – and Clare has already known him for virtually her entire life.

 

The book is not written in a linear fashion. Although there is some order – the chapters are arranged in a way that advances the plot – every chapter is situated in various points of time in Clare and Henry’s relationship.

 

I absolutely loved this book. All characters, both the main and the secondary, were fully fleshed. While reading the book I’ve grown to deeply care about them. It is such a romantic and wonderful book.

 

From a Time Travel perspective the book is a joy as well. Since the chapters do not appear in chronological order, it’s a very fun mental exercise to ‘connect the dots’, see which part fits where, and discover things at the end of the book that were just mentioned at the beginning.

 

To summarize: I highly recommend this book. Unless you really don’t like romantic stories, you will not be Disappointed. Everyone else, either Time Travel lovers or romantics at heart are going to love it – it’s that good.

 


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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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thedoorthroughwashingtonsquare

 

Classification: Plot Device

 

One day Dierdre MacCallum receives a call from her wealthy great-grandmother, Bridget, who’s on her deathbed and has chosen Dierdre, out of everyone in her family, to settle her standing affairs. Although Dierdre is somewhat perplexed by the choice, she agrees and comes to her grandmother’s building in Washington Square park (located in New York’s Greenwich Village) to do her bidding.

 

Dierdre quickly finds out that there is something odd about her grandmother’s apartment. Specifically, the fact that the view from the doors in one of the rooms is different from the view everywhere else. To her amazement, she discovers that these doors lead 72 years to the past. Same place, same apartment – different year. And of course, once she’s there, the doors lead back to the present.

 

Curious about the history of the place, Dierdre manages to find her grandmother’s journals. She then discovers that the notorious Aleister Crowley was a tenant in the building in the early 20th century. In fact, Bridget, her grandmother, was one of his most devoted followers.

 

In case you are not familiar with the name, Aleister Crowley, a real historical figure, was the founder of the major 20th century occult organization, The Golden Dawn. He used to practice magick (”real” magic), including sexual magick, supposedly invoking the power generated by sex to gain certain abilities. He was definitely a colorful and interesting character – you may want to check out his Wikipedia entry (at least, if you choose to read this book). Interestingly, he really did live in the Village for a short amount of time.

 

Using the door which is always at her disposal, Dierdre begins exploring the past. She meets Aleister, and befriends the young version of her grandmother. She also meets – and falls in love – with the poet Noah Hathaway. The problem is that her actions begin to destabilize the present and eventually result in Noah’s death. What does Dierdre do? Read the book to find out.

 

This book is unlike any other novel I have ever read. It’s an intriguing, modern, urban fantasy love story involving time travel. What I liked about it is that it was extremely well written: the characters, particularly Aleister Crowley, were very convincing and felt like real people. The usage of the historical setting was also handled in a way that greatly helped emphasize the plot; the door to the past was really Dierdre’s way of “escaping” to a secluded place from her world – when it was raining in modern day New York, at times it was sunny and pleasant in the 1918 version. And the best part: the story was very good: it had several unexpected twists, and utilized time travel in a very unusual way.

 

As a side note I must mention that during the 90s my father used to live in Washington square. After reading the book, whenever I used to visit him, I kept wondering: where did Aleister Crowley live? Where did all the wondrous events described in the book take place? Although, obviously, it is a fictional story – this fact made the book even more real to me, and probably even more enjoyable.

 

Overall, this is a modern fantasy novel with a lot of romance thrown in. However, its usage of time travel is really what makes the story unique – and special. I simply could not put it down! I recommend it to anyone who likes time travel books and isn’t put off by reading about magical rituals. Being a romantic at heart is probably a requirement as well ;-)

 


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Time Travel Movies