As an avid fan of Doctor Who, time travel is one of my favorite science fiction themes. Sadly, it’s got a bad rep as a cop out for many famous movies and TV shows, but if done right, it can really make the story experience worth while.
And you can nag all you want about the issues with time travel like becoming your own grandpa or the butterfly effect, but I love how complicated it makes things and what knowledge of the future or the past can do to a person.
Over the years, I’ve read some really fun and some very serious time travel novels. While this isn’t a huge list of books, they are some of my favorites. Whats your favorite time travel novel?
Probably my favorite book with time travel are ones that bridge real life issues with science fiction. And time travel lends itself well in Kindred, the story of a young African American woman living in 1970s LA who’s transported to antebellum Maryland where she’s regarded as a slave despite her truth being a free woman in another century. The complexity of the story and the fact that a “modern day” woman (the book was written back in the 70s) is experiencing her ancestor’s struggles for real made this so compelling and the ending will leave you wondering if she actually did go back in time or if it was all in her head.
I’m calling Blake Crouch the modern sci-fi author because the two novels he’s released over the past few years have been exceptional to the genre and Recursion is no exception. It’s the story of two people, Helena Smith and Barry Sutton. Helena is working to create a machine that’ll stimulate old memories for people with Alzheimer’s while Barry is a police officer investigating a series of events where people start remembering two timelines in their head including their own deaths. What you determine is that Helena stumbled across a way to travel through time while Barry discovers a darker use of the machine that will cause lapses in memory for many people.
Romance, wars, and time travel are all relevant for Outlander. This is the story of a woman who recently got married and finished serving as a nurse during the second World War. She’s on her honeymoon traveling through Scotland’s highlands when she suddenly passes through a time gate and lands 200 years in the past. From there, she tries to navigate this world without the modern sciences and medicine of the 20th century all the while trying to figure out how to get back to her own timeline. Then as she meets Jamie, a young Scottish warrior, who helps her through the time she’s living and also finds a little bit of love. Of course, our heroine is confused because despite being in 1743 with this new romance, she would like to be in 1943 with her real husband.
If you read time travel books, then you must read the classic The Time Machine by HG Wells. It’s the story of a young inventor who finally creates a machine that allows you to travel through time. Forwards and back. When the scientist travels as far into the future as he can possibly travel, he comes across a strange new world where the humans only come out of hiding during the daylight hours because the night is filled with trepidation and evil. It’s a story filled with a lot of metaphors about humanity and the time period it was written (back in the 19th century). Definitely a great read and something to check out if you’re a fan of the genre.
I can’t write a time travel list without including one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I didn’t read much when I was younger, but I fondly remember this book. I guess you can say I was in love with time travel ever since I was a kid! The story follows three children, Meg, Charles, and Calvin. Meg and Charles’s father have gone missing presumed because of the mysterious work he’s been doing with the fifth dimension. But when Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which appear telling Meg and Charles that they need their help, the children are more than eager to help find their father and bring him home. However, there’s an evil plot being unleashed on the world and it turns out Meg’s dad is in the middle of it. One of my favorite books of all time and it’s a time travel novel. Who would have thought?
Sometimes you don’t have to be the traveler, but the person waiting for the traveler to get home. I categorized The Time Traveler’s Wife as a heartbreaking novel about Henry who randomly travels through time showing up in mysterious places completely naked and needs to fend for himself. But sometimes he showed up at the doorstep of a young girl named Clare who helped feed him, clothe him, and also became his friend. As the girl grew up, signs of her mysterious friend disappeared but when she meets her friend again as an adult, she can’t help to fall in love. They try to live their lives as a couple within the extenuating circumstances of Henry’s condition, but when Henry glimpses his own death it’s only a matter of time before Clare loses her true love and her best friend at once.