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The Best Time Travel Stories?

Hahaha! I've been quoted on Tumblr. Even though it's a snarky fandom comment, I'll own it, anyway. Proof that nothing you say online every really dies...

There's a possibility that I may, in fairly short order, need to generate a list of my top ten choices for a "The Best Time Travel Stories" (at this point, including both novels and short fiction, although I might limit myself to novels if I get too overwhelmed).

I don't want to forget anything crucial!

Ideally, I'd like them to be both excellent and important. Several immediately come to mind, of course, such as...

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein (I'd choose this over "All You Zombies," but only by a hair.)
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
The Company Series by Kage Baker (No, I'm not above cheating and counting a series as a single work. Shameless, I am.)

Some of my other favorites (such as Daphne du Maurier's The House on the Strand) I'll have to think over, and others of the usual suspects (such as Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court") are so very obvious, I'll have to think them over, too. And what about Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet? After all, I've reread A Swiftly Tilting Planet more than any of these works, with the exception only of The Time Machine...

What say you, my brilliant friends? What would be on your list?

Poll #1752786 What are the best time travel stories (novels or short fiction)?

What do you consider to be the best time travel stories?



Thanks in advance for your suggestions!


"But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day."
~ Benjamin Disraeli

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( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
time travel stories
- Shadow out of Time

- Looking Backward: 2000-1887

eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:53 pm (UTC)
Re: time travel stories
Oh yes, a classic! Thanks so much.
whswhs
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
I would go for Heinlein's real classic, "By His Bootstraps."

Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity. A brilliant work, in that it systematically deconstructs the "social engineering" assumptions of Asimov's other fiction.

For Willis, I think I'd pick To Say Nothing of the Dog over Doomsday Book. Yes, it's comedy rather than tragedy, but I think the craftsmanship is more perfect. And it's easy to underrate comedy literarily.

In terms of sheer influence, I think you really have to include de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall.

Terry Pratchett's Night Watch is rather brilliant about the emotional impact of time travel, and in its handling of the "try and change the past" theme.

I'm not sure if I'd include John Taine's The Time Stream . . . it's a very early science fiction work and not fully in control of its technique . . . but it's a really strange and interesting story.

Would you count "The Shadow out of Time" as a time travel story?
muuranker
Jun. 16th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Seconding Night Watch.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
Excellent! Thanks so much.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
Brilliant suggestions! Lest Darkness Fall would've been one of those I was banging my head against the wall about, if I'd missed it.

And excellent point about "The Shadow Out of Time"! I think so, yes.

I'm adding John Taine's The Time Stream to my reading list.

I'm so grateful for your suggestions. Thank you!
seren_ccd
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed a good portion of the Time-Traveller's Wife. Not too happy with the ending, but a lot of it I liked.

And I'm just seconding A Swiftly Tilting Planet! :D
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, L'Engle's really going to have to be on the list. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that way!

I haven't read The Time-Traveller's Wife. Thanks for the rec!
alitalf
Jun. 16th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
I had problems with the Domesday Book. Somehow, given that the life is becoming increasingly controlled and bureaucratic, can't see someone being allowed to dump the co-ordinates of somebody on a time expedition, or at least not without severe penalties and criminal prosecution.

Secondly, the tube line isn't going to Oxford in any foreseeable future, for geological reasons.

I remember thinking that The End of Eternity was good, and there is one whose name just won't come to mind. I'm getting old...
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
Great insights here! Thanks. I do agree DB requires some willing suspension of disbelief, and Oxford seems to be functioning in something of a bubble all its own, somehow outside of the regulation that's apparent elsewhere. I had no idea about the tube line issue. That is problematic.

*marks down The End of Eternity*

there is one whose name just won't come to mind. I'm getting old...

My problem exactly, which is why I'm fortunate to have good people like you to help me. :) Thanks again!
jamesenge
Jun. 16th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
I like "By His Bootstraps" best of Heinlein's time travel stories.

Lest Darkness Fall: second that.

Silverberg's Up the Line: also great.

Bradbury's "Sound of Thunder"

C.L. Moore's "Vintage Season"

Must be others I'm forgetting.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
Outstanding recommendations, all!

I'm embarrassed that I didn't think to list Lest Darkness Fall right from the beginning. And these others are excellent, as well. I haven't read Up the Line, but I can remedy that!

Thanks so much for your assistance.
this_other_life
Jun. 16th, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
Hello - may a random stranger suggest a couple of titles? Time and Again by Jack Finney and A Rebel in Time by Harry Harrison.
I can't resist anything about time travel so I thank you and previous commenters for new recommendations :)
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
Random strangers are always welcome! :) And next time, you won't be a stranger, of course...

Thanks so much for your recommendations. These are both excellent, just what I was after. I appreciate it!
dejla
Jun. 16th, 2011 04:23 pm (UTC)
Bid Time Return, which became a movie with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour
The House of Arden, by E. Nesbit,
The House on the Strand, by Daphne DuMaurier,
Time and Again, by Jack Finney, which I love because of the illustrations and the artifacts he sticks into the book...
(cheating)The Time Quintet by L’Engle, simply because A Wrinkle in Time is the first science fiction novel I fell in love with as a little girl,
Dinosaur Beach, which has one of the most incredible descriptions of a time loop I've ever read,
Portrait of Jenny, which may not be sci fi, but is just utterly beautiful,
Anubis Gates, because Tim Powers is an awesome awesome writer and I want to be him when I grow up,
A Traveller in Time, Alison Uttley, which takes you back to Elizabethan England,
Axis of Time, an Australian book which rewrites WWII with time travel.

And then, of course, with honorable mention... A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.




muuranker
Jun. 16th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, Traveller in Time!
dejla
Jun. 16th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC)
It is a wonderful book, isn't it? I love the way she keeps flashing in and out and can't control it.
boojumlol
Jun. 17th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
I thought I'd be the only person to mention this one. Nice to see there are other fans around.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:20 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! What a masterful list. I can't thank you enough.
dejla
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! Glad to help anytime.
muuranker
Jun. 16th, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
Also ...

A Tale of Time City (Diana wynne Jones)
Kindred (Octavia Bultler)
Julian May's Pleistocene series
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Mark Twain)

I have, by the by, avoided instances of time travel to the future.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
Kindred! How could I have forgotten Kindred? *slaps forehead*

These are all terrific recommendations. Thank you so very much.
agentxpndble
Jun. 16th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
Time and Again by Jack Finney has always been a favorite of mine. I wear a lot of hats when I read it -- The time travel is interesting, but also the use of history and historical artifacts (photos). There is also a lot to think about and say in regards to the travel method presented.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
Outstanding. *makes note* Thanks a million!
amedia
Jun. 16th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Larry Niven's short-story collection The Flight of the Horse is a lot of fun, and I like the way he plays with cliches.

E. Nesbit's Story of the Amulet is amazingly good (and has that wonderful slashy ending, to boot).

It would also be fun to make a list of the worst time-travel stories, although we'd have to exclude most episodes of Star Trek: Voyager or no one else would win. (meow!)
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, excellent! Thank you so much for these great recs.

Good grief, the contenders for worst time-travel stories could boggle the mind. *shudders* You'll give me nightmares! Ha. :)
wellinghall
Jun. 16th, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
Tolkien's The Lost Road and The Notion Club Papers.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
Ah, but of course! :) Excellent. Thank you.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 16th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
Lurker here who can't help but comment on this subject :) Some of my favourites:

The Nonsuch Lure by Mary Luke
Requiem at Rogano by Stephen Knight
Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine
Timeswitch by Matt Chamings (a children's book, but very good!)

C
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
Hi there, Lurker! *waves and smiles*

Thank you so much for these. A couple are new to me, so I'll have to add them to my pile. I really appreciate your suggestions!
aishabintjamil
Jun. 16th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
I threw in Dinosaur Beach by Laumer not because I'm sure it was a wonderful book, but because I read it in the late 1970's and when you asked this question and I tried to think of what I'd read about time travel, I remembered it (or more properly the impression it left, which was to want to reread it carefully and draw a flowchart to see if I could get straight which version of who was where when). I figure if I remember it 35 years later he got something right.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! I've read others by Laumer, but not this one. Now you've given me an excuse. I agree with your excellent logic; if it stuck with you for so long, it definitely did something right. I look forward to it.

Thanks a million for the recommendation!
jadepilot
Jun. 17th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Man who Folded himself by David Gerrold

The Restaurant at the end of the Universe by Douglas Adams


eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
Excellent! Thanks a million. I can't believe I didn't list Douglas Adams. These are all great suggestions. Thank you.
cookiefleck
Jun. 17th, 2011 12:24 am (UTC)
Too tired right now to add to your list so asked my son who suggests Slaughterhouse Five.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
Oh! Excellent! Great suggestion. Thank you (and thanks to your son)!
boojumlol
Jun. 17th, 2011 02:11 am (UTC)
A Traveller in Time - Alison Uttley
To Say Nothing of the Dog and Black Out - Connie Willis (I have read Doomsday Book, but preferred these)
The Green Knowe series - Lucy M Boston
Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle (I enjoyed the others, but they get a little too religious for my taste)

I will probably be back with more.
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Brilliant! Thank you so much.

I wouldn't have thought of Before I Fall, and I don't know why, because I really was amazed by that wonderful book.

These are just what I was looking for, so thank you!
(Anonymous)
Jun. 17th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
Perhaps one of Neal Stephenson's novels (e.g. Cryptonomicon)?
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, good one! Thanks!
(Anonymous)
Jun. 18th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
that was me who quoted you
just letting you know it was posted by one of your regular readers... not identifying myself here because that Tumblr is my "get crazy fandom urges out of my system without looking quite so unprofessional on facebook" page =D so it's secret! lol! But when the topic of disliking Gambon came up, I just couldn't resist posting it!
eldritchhobbit
Jun. 24th, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: that was me who quoted you
Hey there! *waves* Thank you for the attribution. Your post really made my day and gave me a great laugh. :)

High fives!
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )

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