Three Must-Read Time-Travel Novels

Time Travel fiction is one of the oldest and most celebrated genres of science fiction. Even more intriguing and impossible than space travel, time travel appeals to us on a very personal level. What if you could undo your past mistakes? What if you could foretell the future? What if you could rewrite history?

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Finding a good modern time travel novel is an adventure all in itself. It’s one of those genres that has to be done really, really well or else it falls flat on its face. After all, you must break so many laws of physics and still convince the reader that this is remotely plausible. And what about the paradox issue?

I recently acquired a number of time travel novels and started reading them. I found a lot of gems, a few flops, and have generally renewed interest in the genre. So here are three of my favorites from the last month that you should definitely check out.


 

51hxLgnBe5L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Timebound by Rysa Walker

Timebound is set in the past–our present. It follows the story of Kate Pierce-Keller– the granddaughter of a time traveller, in a world where time travel is genetic. Her grandmother was stranded in the past following the sabotage of the time travel technology by a fellow traveller. Now he’s using his descendent to rewrite time in his image, and Kate is the only person who can stop him. But changing the timeline comes at a terrible price…

Timebound is one of those novels that I avoided for a long time because it’s in the YA genre and…it was time travel. I just didn’t trust a YA author to do time travel right. Boy was I wrong. While the novel features many of the usual YA tropes it treats them differently. Walker uses the love triangle setup to illustrate one of the main plot points of the novel–the cost of changing timelines. Because in Timebound time is not inviolable. Every paradox and fear that people have if time travel could exist? Well…it can happen, and it does, on multiple occasions.


 

Snipers coverSnipers by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Sofie Brandstadter is a best-selling history writer. Her latest book focuses on the Carnival Sniper–an unsolved murder case from 1913 almost as famous as Jack the Ripper. She hopes to use modern forensics to finally solve the case, and enlists the help of the grandson of the lead detective from the case. But all the evidence points to an impossible theory…

One of the most common arguments against the existence of time travel is that if we invented it in the future then we would have see the evidence of it here in the past. Snipers takes that theory and runs with it. It reads like a crime thriller rather than a time travel novel, but that’s just part of what makes it so brilliant. Through every day events we start to realize that this world, so similar to our own, has a completely different history. Through the journal of the detective trying to solve the Sniper case we realize that the shooter clearly wasn’t your ordinary killer with a gun. And as Sophie gets the lab tests back they don’t point to the past…they point to the future.


The Empire of TimeThe Empire of Time by David Wingrove

Doctor Who took the idea of a time war and immortalized it. But you haven’t seen a real time war until you’ve read Empire of Time. It’s the story of a rassemkampf–a race war. It spans a purely enormous period of history, from the Neolithic era to the distant future. The plot follows the personal timeline of Otto Behr, a German time agent fighting for history against the Russians. Otto has been trained since birth to travel through time, and tweak historical events to benefit the German people. But the war they’re fighting is a losing one, and any mistake can throw the balance of favour.

The Empire of Time is one of the mostly highly technical time travel novels I’ve read. It’s a world where black holes are harnessed for their energy, and time bases are built at the zero points of the space time continuum. Time can be rewritten, and the dead can be brought back to life. The timeline will heal itself, but it can also be damaged beyond repair. Changing your own timeline can rewrite memories, and the same mission can be executed a dozen times and still feel brand new. It’s an intimidating length, but a surprisingly easy read, with a plot that will twist your brain into knots trying to guess the next twist.

What are some of your favorite modern time travel novels that you’ve read?


 

Katie Lynn Daniels is the author of Supervillain of the Day, and the mastermind behind Vaguely Circular. She blogs about science and things that are peripherally related to science. You can read all her posts here.


 

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