Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Time Travel

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

As an archaeologist, time travel is an exciting thought. Being able to go back in time and see if your theories are right? Being able to experience those past cultures and civilisations that you’ve studied and obsessed over for years? Yes please. This is one of the main reasons why I love science fiction that features time travel. However, the thought of heading to the future is just as thrilling. I’m always eyeing up the technology on screen in sci-fi films and shows – how cool would it be to get a chance to use some of it?

But the thought of travelling through time is also terrifying.

What if you get stuck in the past or future, unable to return to your own time? What if you change something in the past, however unknowingly or however small, and it has huge consequences on the future? Or even if they are not consequences that affect you, they could drastically alter the life of someone else. What if the people of the past or future see you as a threat or an enemy?

To enjoy time travel in science fiction, you often have to forget about these questions, and just accept it as it is presented. It is such a fantastic element, and I’ve read so many wonderful books featuring time travel:

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1) by Cristin Terrill The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Of course that’s not all of them – it would take forever to list them all! Those are just recent reads or particular favourites. And there are several titles involving time travel that I really want to get my hands on:

Loop The Time Machine 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Of course, I don’t just love time travel in my books.

One of my favourite television shows, Doctor Who, is based around the concept of time travel. I discussed my love for the show in the first Sci-Fi Month, and also wrote a short guide to the series for new fans. However my interest has waned a little with the Twelfth Doctor, and that’s something I’ll be discussing this month.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won't be taking your reading advice.

Hmm, sorry Doctor, but I won’t be taking your reading advice.

And not forgetting films!

One of my most recent favourites that used time travel was Looper. It was clever in that it didn’t feel too high tech for most of the film, with the majority of it set in an isolated farm house surrounded by cornfields. Now I feel like that is something I should rewatch this month…

I’m having slightly more trouble thinking up video games that feature time travel though. Most science fiction video games that I’ve played involve space travel, rather than time travel. Can anyone help me out here?

If time travel was possible, there’s a chance that my career would become irrelevant. What would be the point in researching history and archaeology, digging up evidence or hunting through ancient documents if you could just travel back to a certain period in time and see what actually happened? So maybe it’s for the best that time travel is fiction. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Do you enjoy science fiction with the element of time travel? What are some of your favourite titles?

27 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Month 2015: Time Travel”

  1. One of the earliest time travel stories I read was A Sound Of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, and it left me with a healthy fear of time travel if it ever became possible. The possibility of changing one little thing in the past that destroys the future I’m from would terrify me. Hollywood did their best to make me dislike that story with the truly awful movie they made from it, but I still love it.

    Time travel in all kinds of sci-fi books, shows and games thrills me. It’s a great plot device when used correctly. Two of my favorite Star Trek movies (Star Trek IV and First Contact) made good use of it. I also loved Looper and agree it’d be a good idea to watch again. Time travel even made it possible for me to enjoy a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie (Timecop.)

    I’ve read a ton of books with time travel, some good, some bad, but a couple that immediately come to mind are The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers and Timeline by Michael Crichton (another one with a terrible movie from Hollywood.) As for video games, I don’t recall playing many with time travel elements. I had friends tell me that Chrono Trigger had time travel in it, but I never played it. I’m sure I’ve played some, but nothing comes to mind. Maybe time travel works better in other mediums.

    1. I’ve only read two of Bradbury’s works, and I can’t say I’d ever heard of that title before now – or the film.

      It is! I just realised I forgot X-Men: Days of Future Past, although I guess that’s *technically* not time travel but… a kind of travel through consciousness? The Anubis Gates was a Book of the Month for my book group earlier this year, although I still haven’t gotten to it. I have quite a few Michael Crichton books waiting on my shelf, but admittedly the only ones read so far are the Jurassic Park books ๐Ÿ˜‰ I believe Chrono Trigger does, but I have not played it myself either.

  2. I think you could consider the Assassin’s Creed video games as partly time travel. There’s a present day character who uses a machine to go back and live through the eyes of his ancestors!

    1. I suppose so, yes! I think I forgot that because I always find the bits out of the Animus to be the most boring bits of AC games and tend to block them from my memory – therefore most of the time I forget that I’m playing a character who is ‘controlling’ another character! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I’m making my way (veeeeery slowly) through “The Time Traveler’s Almanac” by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer. It’s a massive anthology of old and new short stories revolving around time travel, divided into 4 sections: Experiments, Reactionaries & Revolutionaries, Mazes & Traps, and Communiques. I’m still in the first section, but excited to see what kinds of puzzles lay ahead in “Mazes & Traps”!

    As for games involving time travel – I’m tempted to say Bioshock Infinite? I know it’s not technically time travel, but the dimension- and alternate-reality-jumping gives me a very similar feeling.

    Like you, my interest in Doctor Who has also waned with the Twelfth Doctor. New Doctors sometimes take a while to warm up to, so maybe I just need to give him another shot? I look forward to seeing what you have to say about it!

    1. What interesting sounding sections! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I’m not usually a fan of short stories, but I’m intrigued.

      You’re not the only one to make that suggestion! But I suppose Elizabeth’s power could come under that.

      Have you watched any of series nine, or just series eight? I’m still not convinced, though I am kind of glad that the overarching plot seems to have kind of disappeared. I preferred the random monster each episode scenario.

    1. I FORGOT OUTLANDER EVEN THOUGH I WROTE IT WHEN I PLANNED THE POST! Ugh. Although I guess it’s not too much of a tragedy, I wouldn’t necessarily class it as science fiction apart from that element of it. Even if it does make up the backbone of the story in the end… ๐Ÿ˜› But haha, I can’t believe it after all my recent obsessing over the series!

  4. I agree with Anne in that Bioshock Infinite could be counted as time travel! And I have 11/22/63 on my bookshelf, but I just haven’t gotten to it because it is very intimidating! Other than that, I have read All Our Yesterdays. I have also read Time Between Us, which was more romance-y rather than time travel, but it still was time travel ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love Hyperion by Dan Simmons. This book single-handedly made me look at time travel in a whole new light. I can’t even bring myself to read the other books in the series because I just want to preserve the memory and experience of reading that book for as long as possible.

  6. This post reminded me how much I love time travel stories. The Time Machine very nearly made my SciFi month book pile ( the first film adaption still might be watched).
    Also Looper was an amazing film. Definitely one I’ll rewatch at some point.
    For an odd twist on time travel I’m quite fond of Counter Clock World by Philip K Dick were people are moving the opposite way in time. So good

  7. I’ve heard good things about All Our Yesterdays. Time Salvager was a pretty good time travel tale I read this year, and there is a sequel due next year. Do you ever watch Continuum? That was a good science fiction show with time travel, and pretty smart writing i thought. It’s on netflix if you get that…

    1. Time Salvager was wonderful! I forgot to add that too. Or rather, I didn’t have room for all the amazing time travel based reads…

      I’ve watched a few episodes of Continuum – I do plan on finishing it at some time, but my to watch list is pretty long too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Whenever I think of time travel, the first thing I think of is the future – not the past. I think if I did go to the past, the thing I would enjoy most would be to show them the advancements they could make or the cool things they could do – totally violating the Prime Directive.

    Also, Looper was a great movie! I’ve only seen it once but I really liked how well the characters were developed and the simplicity of the whole looping thing (though there was a horrific element to it).

    1. Oh definitely, but I have such a fascination with the past that I couldn’t turn away the chance to experience it. But I would never tell them things like that, haha! I’d be too scared of altering the future ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. I’m enjoying these themed posts so much ๐Ÿ˜€ Looper was so good! I couldn’t get over how odd JGL looked though, ha. Also, I loved CE and DT as the 9 & 10th Doctors but Matt Smith…I just never warmed up to him ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Or Amy Pond. Double Boo! I think I might have missed the entirety of season 7 and a bit of 6 because I reached my tipping point and couldn’t handle anymore of them (if you happen to be their fans…please don’t hurt me!! :P) I finally got around to starting season 8, and BAM, we get Peter Capaldi who I just can’t warm up to, either. What is happening?? I do really like Clara though. In all honesty, I think I’m just distracted by some of the more awkward episodes of season 8 and that has gotten in the way of me warming up to the new doctor. I hope it gets better…haha.

    1. Glad to hear it, Sharry ๐Ÿ˜€

      Aww, I loved Matt Smith. I wasn’t crazy about Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, but I loved David Tennant’s too ๐Ÿ™‚ Clara is awesome but the 12th Doctor… ehhhh. We’ll see, but so far it feels so wrong. Like a totally different show.

  10. Hyperion is the only one I’ve read from those and I loved it. I like time travel stories but your post made me realize that I’d actually read very few books with a time travel plot. Connie Willis’ “To say nothing of the dog” and “Doomsday book” are my other favorites. Of course time travel plots are pretty common in comics and I’ve read a ton of those.

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