9 BOOKS TO UNLEASH THE TIME TRAVELER IN YOU
As we hurtle through space, we’re continually traveling through time. We offer you 9 Books to Unleash the Time Traveler in You and explore some of the fascination time-traveling holds for us. Time travel allows us to explore the past and alternate timelines. It gives us a chance to answer the question, “What if?” It also offers a glimpse into the human character that can sometimes be difficult to face in the real world. Authors and their pens have a way of extracting those qualities onto the page and bringing us along for the adventure.
As we bring out the time traveler in you, we’ll also delve into the histories behind the authors who create the fiction keeping our imaginations alive. Time travel always seems to inspire us to discover the past or imagine our futures. These authors develop memorable situations and characters who bring all the possibilities of time travel to life through some scientific device or magical exchange. So, when you’re itching to leave the time you’re in, we have 9 Books to Unleash the Time Traveler in You.
1. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (1889)
Following a bump on the head, Twain’s main character, Hank Morgan, wakes up in 528 England. The mechanic puts his 19th-century skills to use in King Arthur’s Court and implements his democratic ideas. Things do not remain all good and well, though. It is the Dark Ages, after all.
Known as one of the classic American authors, Twain’s inspiration for the satirical novel comes from reading Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur. Twain’s entire book is available from Gutenberg Press.
2. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (1895)
H. G. Wells’ first novel begins during the Victorian Era. The Narrator tells us of a man who claims to have invented a time machine. And while the inventor’s cohorts don’t believe him at first, the story follows the man and his machine to the year 802,701. There the Time Traveler discovers two types of humans, the Eoli and the Morlocks. While he explores the future world, he discovers extreme differences between the two races, one gentle and fair, the other evil and dark.
H. G. Wells’ story has been retold many times through the generations. From graphic novels to film and television series, the contrast of good and evil illustrated in The Time Machine is an irresistible literary device that storytellers continue to retell. Wells would publish several more science fiction in his lifetime, too. Some of his more noted works include The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Dr. Moreau.
3. Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov (1950)
In Asimov’s first foray into science fiction, he transports his main character Joseph Schwartz 50,000 years into the future after a nuclear accident. A new Empire has overtaken, and they consider Earthlings an inferior race. Asimov’s story introduces the difficulty Schwartz faces due to new cultures and language barriers. Schwartz crosses paths with Dr. Bel Arvardan, who supports a better life for the people of Earth and must rely on him and others to survive.
Asimov’s novels have captivated science fiction fans for generations. From his short story collection, I, Robot, The Bicentennial Man, and his Foundation series, the biochemistry professor applied imagination to his knowledge of science.
4. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
Mysterious disappearances are often telltale signs of a time traveler. H.G. Well’s time traveler made a puzzling disappearance early in the Time Machine. In A Wrinkle in Time, the story begins with the mysterious disappearance of a father who is a scientist and the unusual arrival of a Mrs. Whatsit into his children’s lives. L’Engle introduces the Tesseract and the 5th dimension allowing the children to travel immense space and time. They explore new planets and discover magical beings in pursuit of their missing father. Generations of families have read these interplanetary adventures.
A Wrinkle in Time is the first of five novels in the series that takes the children on an adventure to save their missing father. L’Engle also published another science fiction series, young adult and adult fiction, and many other titles during her career. In 2018, Disney released the movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey, Storm Reid, Mindy Kaling, and Chris Pine.
5. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
In the final months of World War II, POW Kurt Vonnegut witnessed the Allied bombing of Dresden, Germany, from a meat locker. His experiences at war and during the bombing resulted in many of the messages and disjointed images expressed in Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut’s main character, Billy Pilgrim, faces a similar fate as Vonnegut during the war. Following his return to the United States, aliens capture Pilgrim. He learns of Tralfamadorians and a new concept for the meaning of time. Their idea of time has no order, and Billy begins to share this idea when he returns to Earth.
The contrast between Vonnegut’s experiences in Dresden and Pilgrim’s cannot be ignored. And since the novel is published in the midst of the Vietnam War, it gained a cult following and became an American classic.
6. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (1979)
Sometimes, time travelers use a machine or magic to achieve their missions. Authors also use the element of disorientation or a special place to relocate their characters from time to time. In Kindred, a young Black woman named Edana “Dana” Franklin is introduced to time travel when she becomes disoriented while unpacking her new Los Angels home in 1976. She’s transported to the 1800s and a drowning White boy, who she saves. She and her White husband, Kevin, will take on 1800s plantation life and a mysterious relationship between the boy Rufus throughout Octavia E. Butler’s novel.
The passionate science fiction author explored many areas with her work. Since the 1970s, Butler has written several series and stand-alone works, including Fledgling, Parable of the Talents, or Lilith’s Brood.
7. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (1988)
Jane Yolen’s novel opens with young Hannah Stern and her family preparing for the beginning of Passover. It’s the 1980s, and while Hannah’s grandparents try to instill a sense of remembrance for her ancestors and their suffering during World War II at the hands of the Nazis, Hannah still has a few lessons to learn. Time travel serves as a tool for the unwilling and unwitting. Authors use it to teach their main characters and their readers a lesson. Whether it’s a history lesson or to make a political statement, many authors use time travel as a means to comment on a historical time we’ve lived through or are heading into.
In the case of Hannah Stern, she falls into a portal that causes her to retrace the tragic steps of her ancestors. Her harrowing experience causes Hannah to recall information her family has told her. In 1999, the novel was adapted into a television movie starring Kirsten Dunst, Brittany Murphy, Louise Fletcher, and Mimi Rogers.
8. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon (1991)
This extremely popular series features a woman who leads a dual life in two centuries. Following World War II, Claire Randall is transported to 1743 Scotland in the midst of the Clan MacKenzie. Mysterious ancient rocks named Craigh na Dun hold the power to transport her back to her husband in the 20th century.
The 9 book series takes readers throughout Europe and the Americas and into diverse historical eras challenging the characters and the reader.
In 2014, the novels were adapted to a television series for STARZ starring Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe.
9. 11/22/63 by Stephen King (2011)
We know Stephen King has other time-travel inspired novels, but his latest grapples with the idea of changing history and putting it right. That “what if” question that many time travel stories tackle and tell us time and again that it never ends well. Time travel rules that prevent us from becoming rich or finding our one true love. Or stopping the assassination of the President of the United States. Enter Jake Epping, a high school teacher in the year 2011. He’s lured into answering the “what if” question started by the owner of a local diner with a portal to 1958.
In King’s 11/22/63, Epping methodically follows Lee Harvey Oswald and other players in an attempt to keep Camelot alive and change the history of the world. As a masterful storyteller, King weaves undertones of the supernatural, strong historical elements, and power struggles of good and evil throughout the novel. In 2016, HULU premiered a series based on King’s novel starring James Franco.
We know authors love to dabble in time travel, so there are more novels and series out there, more than these 9 Books to Unleash the Time Traveler in You. So, tell us. Which ones did we miss? The best-seller-turned-television-hit-series or the best-kept-secret that you read last week, last month, or last year. Tell us. We want to know!
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