So without further ado, I'd like to welcome Richard to The Slowest Bookworm!
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The Fascination of Time Travel in Fiction
by Richard Denning
Time Travel fascinates us. The dangers and potential gains along with the adventures that might be had, are the stuff of a wealth of books, TV programmes and Films. No wonder: for Time Travel produces intriguing possibilities and ‘what ifs’.
There is the desire to explore the past that many of us have. We like to go on holidays to exotic locations, to see the world and different cultures. We like to be present at important moments – a sporting triumph maybe or to meet celebrities and famous people. But, the majority of the cultures that have existed, the bulk of the famous people the world has produced, many of history's greatest of moments have been and gone. Time Travel raises that chance of maybe meeting Leonardo DaVinci, Mozart, Caesar or Cleopatra. There were once seven wonders of the ancient world. Of these only the Great Pyramid exists. How wonderful to be able to visit the other six. Think how marvellous to be present at the moment Newton discovered gravity, to sail (and hopefully get off) the Titanic or how fascinating to see the first airplane flight.
Then there are the dangers of Time Travel that make it intriguing. Could you get trapped in the past and never return to the present? Could you meet and kill your own ancestor and so never exist. Could you prevent the discovery of fire, the light bulb or penicillin. The possibility of changing history and so creating a different future is explored in many Time Travel adventures.
Here are some of the more famous Time Travel adventure stories:
Novels in which characters travel through time are not confined to the "Sci Fi Era" of the 1950s and beyond. In 1819 - Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" tells of a man who fell asleep in a cave and woke up 25 years later to find the American Revolution had occurred, changing his world radically. In 1843 - Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has Scrooge travelling back to witness his childhood and forward to see his burial. In 1889 - Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was published and features an American finding himself in Dark Age Britain.
In 1895 HG Wells wrote "The Time Machine" which is one of the classic stories of science fiction and upon which much of later novels dealing with time travel owe some recognition.
Since 1895 there have been hundreds more books involving Time Travel and it was no wonder then that when TV and Movies came along Time Travel was explored by these media as well.
Dr Who (1963 to Present day). The world's longest running Sci Fi and Time Travel story and to many of us a cornerstone of our culture. I have enjoyed all the stories from the age of 4 in 1971 – watching the older stories on cable later and I still watch Dr Who today.
The Time Tunnel 1966-1967. Two US scientists tumble through a tunnel in time that drops them off in one time period for an adventure and then whisks them off to the next. I remember that image of them rolling around in the tunnel and then out into a street somewhere from the 1970s and later re runs.
Star Trek. Although mainly about space exploration and fighting Klingons there are a number of time travel stories in all the series. ”The City at the Edge of Forever” where Mccoy, Spock and Kirk end up in the US during the depression and possibly wipe out the entire future, is fascinating and an abiding favourite of mine. The movies take a slightly comical view of time travel in “The Voyage Home” when they have to go find a whale in the 20th century to save the future. The Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect” is also one of my favourites with the crew repeating the same day multiple times until they can prevent the disaster that flings them into the unending cycle.
The Time Machine (1960) is a classic and based on the HG Wells' novel. This was an early treatment of this genre. Time travel here is into a alien future in some post apocalyptic world that was not a place you would want to visit. But I loved the Time Machine itself with its Victorian stem punk style knobs and levers.
Back to the Future (1985) and its sequels were entertaining teen adventure stories. I saw the the first film university and I have to say that despite the technobable science it was just a fun film. It did also explore interesting themes such as what if you parents don’t meet – do you cease to exist? What if you change the past -what will the future be like? How easy is it to change the future?
Terminator (1984) and its sequels are about cyborg assassins being sent back in time to kill a future leader. I enjoyed the first two movies and felt they were complete and we did not need any more. The message changed after that from the hopeful – we can change history, nothing is written in stone – to the grim – nothing we do changes anything! Maybe I like happy endings too much!
Time Bandits (1981) Now this one was fun. Thieves steal a time travel map showing gates between time periods and use it to try and rob their way across history. Comedy it was but it explored that idea of meeting the famous characters from history who of course turn out to be not quite as you expect them to be.
There are dozens of books that use time travel and the one thing that is obvious when you read them is that pretty much any method of time travel, any reason for doing it, any adventure you might have through it has been thought about. That however does not stop us wanting to read more, see more movies and in some of our cases write more books about this most fascinating of genres.
My Own Time Travel Story
Having said all that it is not surprising that I have written a time travel story myself – and here is the plug:
Tom Oakley experiences disturbing episodes of déjà-vu and believes he is going mad. Then, he discovers that he’s a “Walker” – someone who can transport himself to other times and places. Tom dreams about other “Walkers” in moments of mortal danger: Edward Dyson killed in a battle in 1879; Mary Brown who perished in the Great Fire of London; and Charlie Hawker, a sailor who drowned on a U-boat in 1943.
Agreeing to travel back in time and rescue them, Tom has three dangerous adventures, before returning to the present day. But Tom’s troubles have only just begun. He finds that he’s drawn the attention of evil individuals who seek to bend history to their will. Soon, Tom’s family are obliterated from existence and Tom must make a choice between saving them and saving his entire world.
Tomorrow's Guardian Paperback Published: January 2011
ISBN: 9780956483560 (Hourglass Institute Series Book 1) Published by Mercia Books.
Sequel is coming Spring 2011
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Where to buy Tomorrow's Guardian:
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To enter the competition to win one of the seven copies of Tomorrow's Guardian (2 paperbacks and 5 e-books) that Richard is kindly giving away via The Slowest Bookworm, you need to read Richards post and answer this little question:
What does Tom discover he is in Tomorrow's Guardian?
- To enter to win the paperback you must either have a UK or US postal address.
- Anyone can enter to win an e-book copy.
- Fill in this form with your details and the answer to the above question.
- The competition closes at midnight GMT on 16th March 2011.
I will notify the winners by email after the competition closes, but please ensure you put your correct details on the form as I will pass these on to Richard immediately after drawing the winners so he can get the e-books and paperback out to you as soon as possible.
Good luck everyone!