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Time Travel Science Fiction Authors

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					Time Travel, Alternate, and Parallel Universe Science Fiction
Types of Books Time Travel books typically involve characters traveling to (or becoming lost in) the far future or characters traveling back to an historical time. Most of Time Travel science fiction copes with the question of causality and paradox – the effect the future could have on the past. Time Travel books tend to break into certain kinds of stories – those that are action oriented and those that are historical/philosophical. The Time Travel subgenre also includes novels depicting alternate or parallel universes. Alternate history science fiction books ask the “What If” question – such as What if the South won the Civil War? in a science based extrapolation. Parallel universe science fiction use theories from quantum physics to explore the possibility of another universe existing in the same space and time as our own but on another plane of existence. Time travel books can follow the typically story arc of any other science fiction subgenre as well – from aliens to utopias – but they tend to be investigative, intellectual, probable, and rigorous and are motivated by the time travel/paradox element. There is lots of crossover appeal inherent with time travel and books employing the motif of temporal change appear in many other genres. Keep in mind that the difference between science fiction and all other genres with time travel elements is that science fiction uses science (hard science, speculative science, highly theoretical science) to explain and motivate the action of the novel. It does not use magic or take as a given that something could occur and move on – that would be fantasy or romance – but not science fiction. Appeal Appeal centers around storyline and frame (the wallpaper of a book). Storylines of Time Travel books ask questions, pose possibilities, and explore moral, social, ethical, or philosophical questions related to the effects man could have on past history, what the future is likely to be like, and the intriguing questions of man playing with time. The questions can be a constant, motivating all actions of the novel, or a subtle motif running through the background of the work. The frame or wallpaper of the book is multilayered. The feel of the books are rigorous and evocative. The novels are very descriptive, range in tone from funny to bleak, are full of details of technology, hardware, software, real and speculative science, location, and effects. Setting is key and must be believable and full of world building. If past travel is the topic, then the setting must be realistic to the historical times. Placing readers in another time frame helps to further the appeal of the speculative questions and allows for considerations of uncomfortable, challenging, or simply innovative ideas.
Neal Wyatt – Chesterfield County Public Library – VLA 2005 – Science Fiction – Time Travel – wyattn@co.chesterfield.va.us

Examples of Action Oriented and Historical/Philosophical Time Travel Novels

The Depths of Time by Roger MacBride Allen (1st in The Chronicles of Solace series) Set in the distant future, wormholes are being used to travel back and forth through time. Captain Anton Koffield guards the “Circum Central” wormhole on his ship, the Upholder. His orders are simple and hard fast – keep the past from learning about the future. When Koffield’s uptime sector (the future end) of the wormhole is attacked by drone spaceships, he feels he has no choice but to destroy the wormhole leading in and out of the planets Glister and Solace. Once the wormhole is collapsed, Koffield and his crew are stranded eighty years in their future – on a crippled ship wondering how the drones could move at physically impossible speeds and what happened to the populations of the planets. Through masterful layering of story, Allen crafts a novel containing well-developed ideas of time travel, strong characterization, and a plot that mixes battles with philosophical theory.

In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker (1st in The Company series) This witty novel is filled with great descriptions of historical times and setting. Mendoza, on the verge of being tortured to death by the Inquisition, is visited by The Company, a 24 th Century group who, in exchange for saving her, wants her to join them. They transform her into an immortal cyborg and raise her in a special time travel education center. Upon graduation, she is assigned her first mission – to retrieve from Renaissance England an endangered plant that cures cancer. Mendoza and some fellow Company members travel to the time of Bloody Mary and Queen Elizabeth as they carry out the orders that will further enrich The Company. Baker's story raises questions of religious hypocrisy and xenophobia and treats the concept of time travel in a very unique way in this scathing and intriguing novel.

More Suggested Books
The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter Kindred by Octavia Butler Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card Timeline by Michael Crichton The Watch by Dennis Danvers Time and Again by Jack Finney 1632 by Eric Flint The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein The Proteus Operation by James Hogan World Out of Time and Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven The Time Traders by Andre Norton (read the original version) Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary Ilium by Dan Simmons End of an Era by Robert Sawyer Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick Gunpowder Empire by Harry Turtledove (1st in the Crosstime Traffic series) The Time Machine by H.G. Wells The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Neal Wyatt – Chesterfield County Public Library – VLA 2005 – Science Fiction – Time Travel – wyattn@co.chesterfield.va.us


				
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