SF CORE Best Lists
- Top 25 Best Science Fiction
- The 'Alternative' Top 25 SF
- Top 100 Best Science Fiction
- Top 50 Best SF Movies
- Best SF Movies of the 21st Century
- Best SF TV Shows
- Best SF Graphic Novels
- Best Science Fiction Series
- Best Stand Alone SF
- Best Modern Classic SF
- Underrated Science Fiction
- Best SF by Women
- Best YA Science Fiction
- Best Kids' Science Fiction
SF ERA Best Lists
- Best Science Fiction of 2014
- Best Contemporary SF (2000's)
- Best Modern SF (80's-90's)
- Best New Wave SF (60's-70's)
- Best Classic SF (40's-60's)
- Best Early SF (1890-1930's)
- Best Proto SF (pre-1890)
SF GENRE Best Lists
- Best Hard SF Books
- Best Cyberpunk Books
- Best Space Opera Books
- Best SF Mystery Books
- Best SF Books about Mars
- Best Moon SF Books about Moon
- Best Dystopian Books
- Best Post Apocalyptic SF Books
- Best Alternate History Books
- Best Time Travel Books
- Best Robot Books
- Best A.I. Books
- Best Post-Human Books
- Best Literary SF Books
- Best Books ABOUT SF
OTHER Best Lists
SF Subgenre Guides
- Space Opera
- Hard Science Fiction
- Soft Science Fiction
- Firm Science SF
- Mundane Science Fiction
- Social Science Fiction
- Near-Future Science Fiction
- Age Regression Science Fiction
- Immortality Science Fiction
- Mind Transfer Science Fiction
- Transhumanism Science Fiction
- Robot Science Fiction
- Cybernetic Revolt Science Fiction
- Synthetic Biology Science Fiction
- Retro Futurism
- Dying Astronaut Science Fiction
- First Landings Science Fiction
- First Contact Science Fiction
- Alien Invasion Science Fiction
- Alien Conspiracy Science Fiction
- Shapeshifting Science Fiction
- Dystopian Science Fiction
- Utopian Science Fiction
- World Government Science Fiction
- Alternate History Science Fiction
- Parallel Worlds Science Fiction
- Multiverse Science Fiction
- Time Travel
- Gothic Science Fiction
- Literary Science Fiction
- Recursive Science Fiction
- Comic Science Fiction
- Political Science Fiction
- Religious Science Fiction
- Christian Science Fiction
- Clerical Science Fiction
- Mythological Science Fiction
- Cozy Catastrophe Science Fiction
- Restored Eden Science Fiction
- Dying Earth
- Apocalyptic Science Fiction
- Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction
- ESP Science Fiction
- Sports Science Fiction
- Zombie Fiction
- Sci-Fi Horror
- Sci Fi
- Science Fantasy
- Speculative Fiction
- Media Tie-In Science Fiction
- Detective Science Fiction
- Hard Boiled Science Fiction
- Pulp Science Fiction
- Space Western Science Fiction
- Scientific Romance
- Sword and Planet Science Fiction
- Planetary Romance
- Lost Worlds
- Bigger Than Worlds
- Voyages Extraordinaires
- Hollow Earth Science Fiction
- Exotic Ecosystems Science Fiction
- Undersea Science Fiction
- Microbiology Science Fiction
- Astrobiology SF
- Astrosociobiology SF
- Ecological Science Fiction
- Frontier Science Fiction
- Generation Ship Science Fiction
- Colonization Science Fiction
- Terraforming Science Fiction
- World Building Science Fiction
- Hyperspace Science Fiction
- Spunky Heroine
- Erotica Science Fiction
- Gay Science Fiction
1970. A.D. Daniel Boone Davis is an inventor of household robots, who's been cheated out of his patents and company by a conniving friend and girlfriend, who stop just short of killing him, but instead send him into the future via suspended animation (a.k.a. 'Cold Sleep').
2000 A.D. (Heinlein was a technological optimist!) Dan wakes up and finds that the descendants of his robots are among the most successful household appliances of all time. After he's identified as the original inventor, he makes a living as a promo figurehead for the company producing the robots. One day he chances across someone who's built an experimental time-machine and cons the guy into sending him back to a particularly critical moment before everything went wrong in 1970. 1970 A.D. Dan fixes what needs to be fixed to make things right in the future, then goes back into Cold Sleep, this time with his cat, 'Pete', whom he originally had thought lost; but now we know why that had to be soand why everything just had to be as it was initially.
2000 A.D. Dan is united with the woman he's going to marry (who also did some 'cold sleeping' to get to 2000).
Why it's top of the list: Because it's the most consistent, well-though-out, contradiction-free and elegant time-travel story ever. Time-travel 101. Would make such a great movie! Some future-world projections are antiquated, but that applies more to robotic technology, AI, and suchlike. There's also some utopianism about 2000 A.D. that definitely didn't pan out. For one thing, Heinlein thought that the world would get better. It didn't. But apart from that the plot is logical, and everything ends up making perfect sense, with not a paradox in sight.
This one is completely different from #1 on the list. It's considered a 'classic' in the time-travel genre. Man builds time machine, has a look around at other time periods, but doesn't really do anything significant, confining himself to observation; though he is, of course, being dragged into events. He manages to get out of trouble with his skin intact, does some more traveling, including to pretty much the end of human history and then to the end of the Earth.
Maybe the most famous episode of the story is set in a not-too-distant future, where society is divided into two classes: the hyper-refined but ineffectual Eloi, who have ceased to be creative but live off the achievements of their ancestors; and the Morlocks, who live in darkness, and only come out at night. Masters and slaves or farmers and livestock? Why it's on the list: It's a hugely influential novel, imitated many times and providing the germ for tales in several SF sub-genres. Wells was a socialist, and the Eloi-Morlock part of the tale is an obvious metaphor for the class structure of English society at the time (and arguably still persisting now). Somewhat dated in language and style, it's still a must-read classic. The term 'Morlock' has become synonymous with a degraded form of human being; seriously retarded, though possessed of some elemental cunning nonetheless; living in the dark and being exploited by those who live 'above'.
On the downside, time-travel in this novel is a mere plot-device to support social dystopian fiction. There's none of the really cool time-paradox and time-loop stuff you get, for example, from someone like Heinlein.
This book was made into a movie, and a pretty good one at that, though by necessity not as complex and in-depth as the book. Crichton does have a habit of going maybe just a bit too far with his desire to ensure verisimilitude. A group of history students end up traveling back in time to 14th century France because their professor happened to get 'lost' there. (Means something went seriously out of whack with the time machine he used, and they couldn't get him back).
Also, this time machine has some serious issues because, and the temporal displacement process tends to misalign body parts of the transportees; usually at a microscopic level, but when you do it repeatedly the errors add up; fatally so. Back in the 14th century the travelers end up at a critical juncture of historical events. This involves serious fighting between the French and the English and has great potential for getting killed, or dicking around with past events.
Why it's at this place on the list:
Meticulous and thorough, as typical of Crichton, with some damn good storytellingthough I'll be honest, I found it somewhat long and actually prefer the movie. Time-travel is integral to the story, with significant emphasis on the 'technology' aspects, as well as the idea that you'd better just observe or else you just might screw things up. Or notbecause things are as they are because they were as they were; and they were what they were because they are as they are. That's time-travel logic par excellence.
From New York Times USA Today bestselling author Dima Zales, discover an action-packed science fiction adventure that will keep you reading late into the night.
A successful venture capitalist with billions in the bank, Mike Cohen has it all figured out. That is, until the life-changing new technology he’s developing lands him in the middle of a global conspiracy, and the only way to save himself, his loved ones, and his tech is to embed the highly experimental Brainocytes in his own brain.
Brainocytes transform the human experience, making you smarter, faster, and more powerful. With enemies at every turn, Mike must use his newly enhanced capabilities to save his family, his friends, and ultimately, the world.
This bundle contains all three books of the thrilling Human++ trilogy. If you’re a fan of science fiction, futuristic technology, witty humor, and edge-of-your-seat adventure, this is the series for you.
Imagine inventing a time machine by accident! Well, Matt does, and it's a doozie. Built-in safety: can only travel into the future. Built-in quirk: every subsequent jump will be longer than the previous one by a factor of 12. Predictably, things don't go smoothly for Matt, as each time he jumps forward, he ends up in a place he'd rather not be (usually for excellent reasons), and every time he jumps, the interval increases.
He and a woman that joins him along the way (Dr. Who, anyone?) end up thousands of years in the future, together with an over-intelligent and unfriendly AI. Fortunately they come across some super-beings that can actually send them back along the time stream; which they do. However, because of an inherent spatio-temporal limitation (you can be sent with limited precision to a given place and time, and the better you determine one, the more uncertain the other becomes; think Heisenberg!) they end up before Matt was actually born, in the late 1800s.
Why it's on this list: An engaging story, which suggests a solution to the 'temporal paradox' problem. If you can only go forward, you can't screw up the past. On the other hand, you can't ever go back either...
The second best of Koontz's novels (the best was 'Strangers') uses time-travel as a device by Adolf Hitler to change the outcome of WW2. (It didn't end too well for Adolf, and I guess he would like it to be different!) So he sends out agents to tweak things, but it seems like they don't always end up in the same universe, and that makes thing difficult. Like where is what happening and when? Confusing!
Why it's on the list: Well, it's Koontz, who, when he doesn't go off the rails with weirdo stuff, is a totally absorbing story teller. The time-travel element is complicated and unpredictable, but with one saving grace: paradoxes are not allowed to exist. Meaning you can't run into yourself for example; or go back to the point in time where you've been before. But you can do things in the past, like sending messages to the future, that will make people behave differently. That's the sneaky way of changing the future. Good fun and hard to put down.
Sending objects back in timethat is, from the 'now' to somewhere before the 'now'is pretty much the same things as sending 'information' in general. Same goes for the future. The speed of light sets limits to what can be done. That's unless you count in 'wormholes'. Ah, what the heck! This novel is about sending information back and what kind of stuff could hit the fan. In this instance, there's a lot of that stuff around, made all the worse by the possible existence of multiple time-streams, some of which might just be completely wiped out as a result of TMI in the wrong place and at the wrong time and sent from the wrong time in the future. Got a headache yet?
Why it's on the list: You've got to keep your wits together when you read this book, because, as they say, "it's complicated". But it's good fun nonetheless, and Hogan is a methodical thinker who ties strands togetheras much as that can be done, given the weird entanglements of past, present, future and parallel time-streams. And it all starts so innocently when the main protagonist just wants to see if he can fool the information-time-machineand the whole universe with itinto creating a temporal causality paradox. Bad idea!
The future, not so far away. Neo-fascists are still battling it out with liberals. Time machines exist. Eckles, hunter extraordinaire, wants to go back in time on a safari to hunt a T-Rex. I mean, why not? They don't get any meaner than that, do they, and if a man wants to prove how macho he is, a T-Rex must look like the ultimate prize. The catch is, when you go back in time, you've got to be careful not to do anything that's likely affect the future. To avoid stepping on anything importantthough it might not seem important in the grand scheme of thingsthey use levitating walkways and try to kill only creatures that were about to die anyway.
The T-Rex they're targeting was destined to be killed by a falling tree, shortly after. Problem is, Eckles panics when he faces the T-Rex (Don't blame the guy. Ever seen Jurassic Park? Those are big puppies!) and steps off the walkway. The other hunters kill the T-Rex, the tree falls on top of it, and they return to their presentwhich is somewhat different to the way they remember it: linguistically, politically and in other subtle ways. Why? What happened? Nobody knows, though the squashed butterfly on Eckles's mud-covered boots (from when he stepped off the walkway) might just turn out to have something to do with it. Ooops!
Why it's on the list: Solid Ray Bradbury tale. Predated the invention of the term "Butterfly Effect" by almost two decades. Go, Ray!
'Eternity' is an organization that's kind of 'above time', is that makes any sense at all. I mean, how can you be? Still, they are, and they can go here and there and everywhere and everyWHEN and tweak things to suit their purpose. Well, not quite everyWHEN. There's a barrier somewhere in the future, beyond which they cannot go.
The purpose of the organization? To minimize human suffering. On the average anyway. The result of their constant interference is that humanity's development has been arrested; societies are static and there appears to be no real 'drive' to do anything that pushes the envelope. Remind you of much of modern western urban civilization? Most people will choose safety and boredom over the insecurity of adventure and risk. That's just the way things are, and 'Eternity' encourages that. The story is about how all that is about to end; or, better said, how all that is never about to come about.
Why it's on the list: A thoughtful story; very complicated and needing your wits about you. The underlying subject is simple and Joss Whedon probably would love this tale if he knew it, because it's all about how we are deeply conflicted and how what makes us move forward is also what creates our greatest suffering but that's our lot, and we got to live with it. Else we cease to be human and the universe will just chew us up and spit us out.
Another tale about sending information back in time; only in this instance people are trying to avoid creating paradoxes at all costs, especially the 'Grandfather Paradox', which is shorthand for anything that you do with the past that would have the result of preventing you from doing it. (Think about that for a moment. It's really cool!) The information they're wanting to send back by about 35 years is meant to warn people of impending ecological disaster if the world of the early 1960s continues on its course. The attempt works, but since it changes past history, a parallel time-stream is created and that severs the information link from the future. Meaning that in the original time-stream nothing changes. But you figured that out for yourself already, right?
< Why it's on the list: Another good take on the 'send messages to the past' angle. Somewhat different to #6 on this list, taking a somewhat more 'global' view with strong eco-themes; but also taking recourse to 'parallel time-streams' speculations and the attendant consequences.
Another story about things gone bad in the future (the story's present). A gazillion nuclear wars, general pollutions and what-have-you, and the human gene-pool doesn't look too good by now. The civilization that calls itself 'The Last Age' (sounds like it!) decide to solve the problem by getting some fresh blood (sorry, that should be 'genes') by getting some humans from a past where the gene pool was still kind-of OK and regenerating the species on the space equivalent of some quarantine island. Like the folks in #7 they are trying to make sure that they collect only those who are about to die anyway. Of course, the 'Snatch Teams' are noticed and that means there are repercussions reverberating into the future 'now'. (Butterflies again.) In fact, during one raid a weapon was left behind that must be recovered at all costs if a serious paradox is to be avoided.
Why it's on the list: Good story, solidly told and sticking with the program. The trick with all these tales is not to become too complicated, but also to stay as real as you can get, based on the assumptions you start with. With anything having to do with time, that's never easy.
Time-travel tourism? Well, why not? If somebody can make money out of it, they find a way to do it. This story is about Brendan Doyle, a history-professor-turned-tourist-guide, who takes a bunch of rich tourists through the mysterious Anubis Gates to show them around the timescape and attend a lecture by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Doyle is kidnapped and becomes trapped in the 19th century, with predictably complicated consequences. In addition we have werewolves and body-swapping, evil magicians, a miscellany of monsters, intrigues and bloodshed, plus 19th century Egypt thrown in for good measure. And there's a final twist that you'll probably not see coming. What more can anybody ask for?
Why it's on the list: Tim Powers is a master at mixing SF tropes with a goodly dash of fantasy. This one is an intensely involving tale that twists and turns so much that it leaves you dizzy and gasping for air. Requires a goodly measure of attention anddare I say it?intelligence on the part of the reader. The technology of and basic ontological issues associated with, time-travel take a backseat in this novel, but that doesn't matter. It's good fun anyway.
Colonel McCulloch is a good old-fashioned white racist. Agent Troy Harmon, who is black, is supposed to find out what's going on when McCulloch becomes a murder suspect. McCulloch is head of security at a top secret research station near Washington. He is also taking a great interest in the period of the American Civil War, and has stockpiled a quarter of a million dollars in gold. When McCulloch disappears, Harmon discovers that the research station was conducting experiments in time-travel and he realizes that McCulloch plans to travel back to the time of the Civil War and alter history by providing the Confederacy victory through the introduction of the 'Sten' submachine gun; which had not yet been invented, but was well within the technological capabilities of the time. Only way to stop McCulloch: follow him, and brave the racial prejudices of that time.
Why it's on the list: This is about trying to prevent anybody from changing a historical past. Interesting take on racism and how someone not used to it would cope.
This novel was first published in 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation still fresh on people's minds. Hugh Farnham, a middle-aged competent Heinlein survivor type, manages to get his family and a visiting friend, Barbara, into a fallout shelter. After some explosions, one of them uncomfortably close and interrupting a tryst between Farnham and Barbara, they are forced to exit the shelter because of a lack of oxygen and find themselves in what looks like a distant future.
Their exploration of this world and their potential lives here are complicated by pregnancies not only of Farnham's daughter, but also Barbara; as well as the fact that they've landed in a world where racial dominance roles have been inverted; with slavery thrown into the mix for good measure. Hugh and Barbara refuse to adapt to being slaves and volunteer for a time-machine experiment that should send them back in time. They return just shortly before the nuclear attack, but find that the world they're in is subtly differentso maybe it's not the same universe they started out from. They survive the war and build a life with each other.
Why it's on the list: Heinlein here deviates from the linear time-travel-in-the-same-universe narrative of #1; acknowledging that alternate time streams may make it impossible to tell what's really going on. And how would we be able to tell? He uses the novel to explore the master-slave relationship by the inversion of racial stereotypes, and provides his very own inimitable analysis of human relationships. A different take on a theme also touched on in #12.
Among the infinity of unanswered questions there are a few about our so-called 'human nature' that will never be answered because we'll only find those answers in alternate universes or time-streams that we can't ever enter. Would societies and individuals today be more humane, thoughtful, responsible, far-sighted, if human history had been different? In other words, is today's 'human nature' a product not just of evolution, but also of historical contingency? Were there events that, like switches on railway tracks, put us onto the path we're on now; and which may, as the novel stipulates, destroy us all. Can we identify those events? If we could go back in time, could we actually change the whole course of history for the better? This novel answers all these question in the affirmative. In the aftermath of a devastating plague, two people are sent back to the dawn of civilization, to prevent a particular event, identified as being a critical nexus in history, from happening. Fix the past and hopefully the present will be bettereven though it's questionable if the same people that sent the time-travelers would still exist.
Why it's on the list: Because the premise is far from being as silly as many people seem to think it is, and Moscoe tells it credibly and engagingly. Followed by two sequels that round off the story. Of course, the time machine itself is just a tool. The whole issue of whether the actions of the time-travelers will lead to Grandfather Paradoxes is touched on, but ultimately not deeply explored. Or maybe time doesn't work that way at all. I mean, who even knows what it is, right?
Prison's overflowing, costing taxpayers too much money and occasioning bleeding-heart liberals to bemoan the terrible state of the penal system? Here's the solution: get rid of the blighters; without killing them and without them costing you anything once you've gotten rid of them. Find a kind of temporal Australia, penal colony extraordinaire. Especially if they're political prisoners! This is exactly what's been done: the men zipped to a penal settlement in the Precambrian era and women to the Silurian. Out of sight, out of mind, and never to return, because you can only travel backward in timeuntil, that is, technology advances to make forward travel possible and the oppressive government that invented this kind of disposal system has been overthrown. Except that after all these years in the penal colony, the middle-aged and elderly former rebels really don't know any other life and since their political enemies now have been overthrown, they've basically lost all purpose.
Why it's on the list: It's not really about time-travel here, but about the rationales of penal systems, especially with regards to political enemies; and about what happens when people lose their purpose in lifefor even though their lives could be better than they had been, they wouldn't really know what to do with themselves anymore.
Warning: This novel is probably offensive to the religiously inclined. Think 'Monty Python's Life of Brian' on speed. The protagonist, Karl, is far less likeable than Brian though. He's a bundle of 'issues', including misophobia, closeted sexual orientation, as well as a messiah complexwhich is a classic indicator of monomania and sociopathy. His fervour would do any fanatic proud. After arriving in 28 A.D. in a malfunctioning time machine capsule that nearly kills him on arrival, he runs into some stock bible characters, including Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Turns out they're nothing like their biblical depiction. Jesus particularly is a seriously mentally-challenged individual, who knows only one word, that being his name, which he repeats obsessively and incessantly. For Karl, being the fervent he is, this is not a turn-off, and he steps into the shoes of the dysfunctional Jesus and becomes known as Jesus of Nazareth himselfsuffering in due course, a similar fate, mostly through his own doing.
Why it's on the list: Well, it's a time-travel story, that's one reason. That Moorcock utilizes this particular SF trope for some juicy, some might say 'outrageous', satire just goes to show how useful it can be. Not everybody's taste, I'm sure. I'd be surprised if, in today's PC climate, it would ever see publication, even coming from Moorcock. And he'd targeted the wrong religion...
Unlike Hogan's 'Thrice Upon A Time' (#6), here we have people going back in time physically. The story is set in a universe in which the Axis countries (Germany, Italy, Japan) actually won WW2. A bunch of a group of special forces units, scientists and diplomats plan back to 1939 to change all that, after they discovere that a vast conspiracy of economic interests in their own FUTURE had actually build another time machine that could send people and modern weapons as back as far as the 1920s, in order to forge the Nazi party into a useful tool for them. That didn't work out, and now it's up to the second group to fix this mess operating in the year 1939. Fortunately they succeed, and the world we live in now is the result of that. Neat, huh?
Why it's on the list: Convoluted plot. Very cool. Lots of 'real' historical figures have cameos.
This novella was published in a collection of stories called 'Four Past Midnight'. Ten people awake on a red-eye flight, only to find that the other passengers and crew are gone and the plane's flying on autopilot. One of the survivors, an airline pilot, manages to land the plane on a deserted airport. They figure out that those left over have one thing in common: they were asleep. They speculate that they've gone through a 'time-rip' and ended up in the pastwhich isn't anymore and has to be tidied up to that there's nothing left over there, a la 'the past is dead and gone'. Which means they'd better hurry to get back to their own time and the present before being devoured by the giant meatball-like Langoliers, who tidy up the timeline by...well, eating whatever's left.
Why it's on the list: Because it's Stephen King. Time-travel with some serious nail-biting horror; and I love the notion of the past being eaten up by something, so that it's really 'gone'. Which would mean, of course, that you definitely couldn't actually travel too far back in time, because you'd be going into Nothing. That's it: Nothing. All eaten up. This story is maybe better not read immediately before going to sleep. Was adapted into a pretty good TV mini-series.
We're getting away from technology-driven time-traveling here. Henry has a genetic affliction: Chrono-Impairment (CI). Means he does spontaneous time-travel. His wife and the love of his life, Clare, is driven nuts by the whole thing. There seems to be no helping it. Henry has tried the lot: meditation, relaxation, exercise, drugs. Nothing works. And the thing gets worse, because when he travels, it's just him. No clothes. No passports. No money. Necessity being the mother of invention, Henry learns some useful survival skills, some of them also potentially useful to criminals. Understandably, Henry's and Clare's marriage isn't easy, and they even end up having a daughter, who also suffers from CI, but has more control than dad. Still, what a way to live! And even when Henry is accidentally shot and killed, the question is 'Which Henry?'
Why it's on the list: It's really touching. And it invents another way to do time-travel: genetic predisposition. Made into a serious tear-jerker, but quite good, movie with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams.
Story of a guy with serious cardiac and spontaneous time-travel issues. Think #19! Jeff, 43, dies of a heart attack in 1988. That kind of thing happens a lot. But not everybody then wakes up again in his 18-year old body in 1963, with all the memories of the now-dead Jeff. After adjusting to his situation he decides to lead a careful life and avoid those cardiac issues. Doesn't work. He dies again. Same time, on the button. Returns to 1963, but somewhat later. And the same thing again, and again, and again, returning to a later and later time, closer and closer to his eventual death. You can see where this is going. How will it end? And what about Pamela, a fellow sufferer, whom he encounters one day? As if ordinary relationships weren't already complicated enough!
Why it's on the list: It's an involving story that fully deserved its 1988 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. I couldn't put it down. Time-travel, like in #19, is an inherent capability that requires no technological aid, and which is in fact a pain in the neck for the sufferer and the people around him.
30-something screenwriter (sic!) is dying of a brain tumour and lives out his final days in a hotel, where he sees the photo of Elise, a famous actress from the late 1800s. He becomes obsessed and turns into a historical stalker; finds out everything he can about her (she was single and had an affair with someone while staying at this very same hotel in 1896), becomes even more obsessed and finally make a transition into some kind of madness, believing that he's the mystery guy. Which means, he's got to travel back in time to consummate their long-distance attraction.
He finds a suitable method for doing the time-travel thingie (self-hypnosis) and off he goes. Elise appears to recognize him instantly when she sees him, and they proceed have a hot, passionate night in her room. Still, complication ensure, especially since the 'time-traveler' now believes that his future self is actually an illusion of sorts that he has to get rid of. And there's more. And in the end he dies, of course.
Arguably, Heinlein's opus magnus, though people tend to argue the point. It's about the life of Lazarus Long (a.k.a. Woodrow Wilson Smith) the oldest living human. The guy's been kicking around for over two millennia, and is sick and tired of living! So his friends keep him talking and reminiscing, hoping that he'll snap out of his depression. The book is divided into several sections. Time-travel appears in the last one, entitled 'Da Capo'. Finally, Lazarus Long decides that he wants to see what the world and time he was born into would look like from his 2k+ year perspective.
So, he finds himself a time-machine and off he goesexcept that he doesn't land in 1919 as planned, but in 1916, just before the US got involved in WW1. Complications from this little slip include him meeting his mother and falling in love with her. This in turn, among other things, leads to him eventually enlisting in the army (long story). Before he leave for Europe, he and his mother actually 'consummate', as they say, their profound mutual and apparently irresistible attraction. Once in Europe, Lazarus is seriously wounded and almost dies, but is rescued just in time by his future friends and saved.
Why it's on the list: Because this is easily the most controversial use (some might say abuse) of a time-machine, right? Unless you count #16 maybe.
So, this is what happened in another universe. 2000 A.D. A town called Grantville, West Virginia, isn't there anymore. Some whimsical aliens drew a circle around it, about six miles wide and transported it and its power station to central Germany and the year 1631. Yes, that's what happened. At least in Flint's fictional alternate universe, where such things are possible. Still, apart from that little oddity, the people of Grantville are just your ordinary small-town folks (well, mostly), and they don't just say "Cool. Look at that." and get on with their lives. Things are a bit more complicated than that, what with 17th century power politics and contrasting levels of technology, and everything else that's going to be happening as a result.
Why it's on the list: Great variation on the theme of just a single person being displaced in time. I haven't read any other books from Flint's fictional universe, but they're definitely on my list. The whole displace-a-town thing reminds me bit of James Blish's "Cities in Flight" novels.
Scott and his buddy Hitch chance upon a huge monolith, made of an indestructible material, that suddenly appears in the Thai jungle. And it doesn't just appear quietly, but with a bang and some serious scorched earth around it. The scribblings on its side refer to a future military victory by someone called "Kuin". More of these things appear over the next 20 years, all over the world. Some of them appear in cities, killing millions. Without any apparent explanation-how could there be, since the writings refer to a future event and so the things must be coming from the future!it seems like everybody feels free makes out of it what they feel like. Typical human tendency to try and desperately make senseany kind of sense, no matter how dumb or unfounded out of the nonsensical, in the process overlooking the obvious, which is that it might be designed to do just what it's doing. Political movements and cults spring up around these objects and their presumed maker, "Kuin"; in some cases resulting in wars. Until some bright sparks catch on to the manipulative nature of these artefacts and decide to try and destroy them, even though they appear indestructible.
Why it's on the list: Fascinating concept: things appear out of time (the future presumably) for no apparent reason, freaking us all out. Don't know what. Don't know why. Don't know what's going to happen next. Ideal breeding ground for ignorant speculation, which eventually congeals into conviction, fanaticism and stupid wars.
This is a "Discworld" novel, written by Terry Pratchett; so be ready for tongue-in-cheek stuff and wry side-glances at the real world. Reason why this is here is one of Pratchett's quirky looks at the world. First of all, time here isn't an abstract concept but incarnated and personified. Secondly, the Auditors (godlike villains in the Discworld series) are irritated by the fact that humans and other races on Discworld behave unpredictably. (Yes, very irritating that...) They intend to deal with this problem by getting a clockmaker to build a perfect glass clock that will imprison Time and freeze it, thus removing the unpredictable element from human behavior. Perfectly logical. If there's no time, people can't do things.
Why it's on the list: Not strictly about time 'travel', but definitely about time and how to tweak it. It's one of those novels that stretches the whole 'time' concept, and makes you think things you might not have thought of before. Besides, it's Terry Pratchett. Not to be taken too seriously, but not to be taken too lightly either, despite tongue being firmly in the cheek.
Our Version of the List
At a Glance
- 1 The Door Into Summer (Robert A. Heinlein)
- 2 The Time Machine (H. G. Wells)
- 3 Footprints Of Thunder (James F. David)
- 4 The Accidental Time Machine (Joe Haldeman)
- 5 Lightning (Dean Koontz)
- 6 Thrice Upon A Time (James P. Hogan)
- 7 A Sound Of Thunder (Ray Bradbury)
- 8 The End Of Eternity (Isaac Asimov)
- 9 Timescape (Gregory Benford)
- 10 Millennium (John Varley)
- 11 The Anubis Gates (Tim Powers)
- 12 A Rebel In Time (Harry Harrison)
- 13 This Immortal (Roger Zelazny)
- 14 First Dawn (Mike Moscoe)
- 15 Hawksbill Station (Robert Silverberg)
- 16 Behold The Man (Michael Moorcock)
- 17 The Proteus Operation (James P. Hogan)
- 18 The Langoliers (Stephen King)
- 19 The Time-traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
- 20 Replay (Ken Grimwood)
- 21 Bid Time Return (Richard Matheson)
- 22 Time Enough For Love (Robert Heinlein)
- 23 1632 (Eric Flint)
- 24 The Chronoliths (Robert Charles Wilson)
- 25 Thief Of Time (Terry Pratchett)
Publicly Ranked Version of the List81 items >>
- 11 22 63 (Stephen King)
- Replay (Ken Grimwood)
- Time And Again (Jack Finney)
- The Time-traveler's Wife ()
- The Anubis Gates (Tim Powers)
- 1632 (Eric Flint)
- Doomsday Book (Connie Willis)
- Time Patrol (Poul Anderson)
- Millennium (Jeremy McCollum)
- Timescape (Gregory Benford)
- Blackout (Connie Willis)
- Time's Anchor ()
- Lightning (Dean Koontz)
- Green Darkness (Anya Seton)
- All Clear (Connie Willis)
- About Time (Jack Finney)
- Ark Of Time (Peter A. Kerr)
- Timequake (Kurt Vonnegut)
- Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)
- Timestorm (Steve Harrison)
- Extempore (Wilder Smith)