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


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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Classification: Historical Characters

 

Voyagers! begins with a Jeffrey Jones, a boy living in 1982 with his uncle after his parents died. One afternoon, a man suddenly appears before his eyes. Extremely surprised, the shock causes him to fall out of the window. But instead of dying, the man jumps after him and – miraculously – transports them both somewhere safe.

 

It seems Jeffrey was rescued by Phineas Bogg, a member of the society of time travelers who are responsible in maintaining the timelines in the event that they go wrong (something that happens all the time). Since Phineas doesn’t know much about history, and Jeffrey does (his father was a history professor), they both go together on various temporal journeys. This often brings them in contact with various historical characters.

 

As a kid, Voyagers! used to be my favorite show. I used to have dreams about the Omni, the watch-like device Phineas uses to transport himself in time. Although it looked a bit outdated when I recently watched a couple of episodes, I still really enjoyed it.

 

As a side note, Jon-Erik Hexum, the actor who played Phineas Bogg tragically died at the end of first season by a stunt prop. It’s a real shame.

 

A second side note, last I read, Meeno Peluce the kid who played Jeffrey, now works as a history teacher. I guess he really was the perfect casting!

 

In summary: highly recommended: Adventure, history and time travel – you can’t go wrong with this combination!

 


The show’s DVD on Amazon

 

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timecrimes

Classification: Personal Time Travel

 

Despite the fact the movie is in Spanish, and that the trailer looks somewhat disappointing, I was very eager to watch Timecrimes.

 

In Timecrimes we are introduced to Hector, a mild-mannered middle-aged Spaniard. One day, when Hector attempts to relax in his garden with his binoculars, he accidentally notices a naked woman running in the forest. His curiosity piqued, Hector goes to investigate who that woman is. But before he knows it, someone – a scary person with a bandaged face – stabs him with a pair of scissors.

 

Frantically, Hector runs away – trying to evade the mysterious man who from some reason is trying to kill him. He reaches a building, which he later finds out is some kind of a research institution, and tries to hide inside. But the bandaged man is still chasing him! Hysterically Hector follows the advice of a man – a scientist who wasn’t supposed to be there – on the phone which he finds lying nearby. The man intructs him to get to a building, and once he gets there, he sugests Hector hide in a strange-looking machine filled with water until the bandaged man goes away.

 

A flash of light later, and Hector discovers he has traveled back in time: an hour and a half, to be precise. The scientist tricked him! But strangely, when he meets the man again, he does not even know him, nor does he believe Hector traveled through time. Using his binoculars, Hector is able to spot his ‘younger’ version. Desperate to return to his old life, all he needs to do is wait an hour and a half… but can he do that?

 

Timecrimes is a movie filled with mysteries. Who is this naked woman? Who is the bandaged man, and why is he trying to kill Hector? Why did the scientist trick Hector?

 

Spanning a total of an hour and a half, five characters, and a very few locations, Timecrimes is a simple movie. But this simplicity of the setting, if anything, only serves to enhance the complexity of the plot. Not many novels (or movies) deal with the issue of cause and effect in time travel. Consequently, when these become muddled in the movie, the result is highly enjoyable.

 

Timecrimes is an excellent movie. Although parts of it are quite predictable – the rest is far from. Highly recommended.

 


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thedoorintosummer

Classification: Future Reality

 

Set in “future” 1970 (as the book was written in 1957), The Door Into Summer introduces us to Dan Davis, one of the greatest electronics engineers alive. Dan’s latest invention is a sophisticated household robot which will dramatically change life for the housewife at home. [Note though this was publishable in the 50s, I doubt anyone would write things like that today]. Just before he is able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, Dan is tricked by his business partner, Miles, and fiancee out of business. Even worse, the two betrayers inject him with a drug and put him in suspended animation for 30 years.

 

30 years pass, and Dan wakes up – penniless and feeling betrayed. Determined to make a new life for himself, Dan starts catching up on new technologies and finds a job. However, he never forgets the betrayal. And so, because the engineer in him never sleeps, he eventually manages to build a time machine – which he decides he’ll use to get back in time and exact revenge on the two people who have stuck the knife at his back.

 

The Door Into Summer is considered by many to be one of the finest time travel novels ever written. Honestly, I think it is a good novel, particularly when one considers the year it was written in, but I don’t think it meets the higher standards by today’s science fiction novels: The story is decent, but nothing spectacular.

 

As for character development, well, one of the common problems with science fiction books written in the 50s and before is character development. Although to some extent it is a problem today as well, it seems that back then creating believable characters was never an important consideration when writing science fiction. The Door into Summer is a perfect example: the characters are all exaggerated cliches of the role they play. If this were the goal then that could be fun, but it’s so clearly not the intention.

 

Note that one of my favorite aspects of this book – and all older science fiction – is seeing the futures they envisioned, and how they differ from the real world. In this book, the future was 1970, and the far future was 2001. Although we’re already 8 years after 2001, we still do not have robots that do everything, nor do we have suspended animation or self driving cars (at least we’re getting closer to those!), and that sort of thing. Yet we do have amazingly complex computers, we have the internet, we have stem cell research, we have iPods and HD Television – and plenty of other things that could not have been predicted back then. Anyway, I digress – this is just an anecdote I find interesting.

 

To summarize: if you like golden age science fiction, you’ll love this novel. But if poor characterization or old science fiction irritates you – skip this one. Just remember – you may be missing out!

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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timegates

Classification: Anthology

 

This collection is a part of a themed series of anthologies (an anthology about AI, about Clones, about Nanotechnology). I have some of these, and usually they are quite good. This particular anthology includes 12 time travel short stories by authors such as Ursula LeGuin, Charles Sheffield, James Tiptree, Jr, and Joe Haldeman. Most of these stories are decent if not great. My favorites include:

 

Arachon: this story, written by Damon Knight, tells the story of two brothers who invent a time machine and attempt to use it for illegal purposes. Although their scheme appears foolproof, they discover not all is as it seems. Excellent story – my favorite in this anthology.

 

Anniversary Project: in this short story which was written by Joe Haldeman, a married couple, Bob and Sarah Graham, are transported to the far future. To their relief, they discover that the future beings do not wish them any harm, but rather only desire to scan their minds while they read books. As Bob and Sarah find out, in the future, there is no longer a need to read or write, thus, wishing to experience reading firsthand, the natives of the time were forced to transport someone from an early period. Very cute story.

 

To summarize: A decent collection that time travel lovers will like. Although most other anthologies I reviewed are better, this one is still worth obtaining.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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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.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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timeships

Classification: Past and Future Time Travel

 

The Time Ships is the unofficial sequel to H.G. Wells’ famous novel, The Time machine.

 

Written more than a century after the original was published, The Time Ships directly continues where The Time Machine stops: The Time Traveler goes back to the year 802,701 to save his Eloi friend, Weena, from the bestial Morlocks. But the plot does not stop there: the Time Traveler continues his journey through time, visiting the year 1939 (the future from his perspective – remember, his present is 1891!), his own past (the year 1873: where he meets his younger self), the deep past (50 million BC!), an alternate reality of 1891, the far future again, and back and forth.

 

This book is a celebration for any time travel lover: the protagonist travels to the far future and the distant past, back and forth and back and forth, each trip being very different from the other, and yet all trips are highly imaginative and very original. Furthermore, it successfully captures the style and the ‘feeling of wonder’ created by the original – no simple feat! The only difference being that The Time Machine is hard-core science fiction (unlike the original), and as such, uses modern concepts and goes much more deeply into the underlying quantum physics than the original. This does not conflict with the story, but in fact greatly enhances the plot. To be fair, H.G. Wells couldn’t have written anything about quantum physics or Dyson Spheres in the 19th century without using a time machine himself!

 

In summary: fantastic! Certainly a must for lovers of the genre. I’m quite confident H.G. Wells himself would’ve liked the novel, and would’ve been proud to call it a sequel to his own work.

 


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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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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primer

 

Classification: Personal Alternate Reality

 

I’ve heard a lot about Primer and was excited when I finally got the chance to see the film. Primer is very unusual, even for a Time Travel story. In Primer, four engineers attempt to create a machine in their garage in order to sell the technology. However, they get more than they’ve bargained for: a side effect of the machine means it can effectively be used as a time machine. At first the guys attempt to use it to make money using the stock market, but later on they begin using it for other purposes, like attempting to prevent a maniac from getting to a party.

 

All in all, the film was interesting but I can’t say I enjoyed it. First, the story is filled with technical jargon. In fact, the first 10 minutes are nothing but technical jargon. It’s not really hard to understand but it is as interesting as watching someone make a tax report. Furthermore, about halfway through the movie, the plot becomes so confusing that is practically impossible to understand what is going on.

 

One quote I saw in Wikipedia summarizes it very well: “anybody who claims [to] fully understand what’s going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar.”

 

My summary: make your own decision. I don’t think this movie is worth it, but maybe I need to see it more than once to make a final decision. That being said, I have no plans whatsoever to watch it again.

 


Link to the movie’s DVD on Amazon.com

 

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Time Travel Movies