Time travel is one of the best travelled staples of science-fiction, from books to television shows to movies, it is the ultimate form of exploration. The concept of time travel is almost as old as the history of writing, with the first known written example dating to around 400 BCE. In the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata, King Raivata Kakudmi journeys to heaven to meet Brahma, the Hindu creator god. When he returns to the moral world, centuries have passed. Time travel in fiction, from this ancient epic to Stargate and Doctor Who, usually involves physically transporting one-self through time, bringing your body and memories with you. Threats include meeting your past self, or encountering the grandfather paradox, or making changes to the past which may affect the future. Very rarely do we get a novel in a similar vein to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, where time travel is a person journey into your own memories.
Welcome to 2019! In honor of our continued traveling forward in time, the first book review of this brand-new year is all about time travel into the not-so-distant past. As always, full spoilers are expected here.
There is a certain allure about time travel, even though it is far from the most widespread literary genre. We all know the great classics: A Sound of Thunder, The Time Machine, Doctor Who, etc. But time travel, while infinitely interesting, is difficult to write about. The amount of research it requires into past events rivals that of any nonfiction. Yet, we are drawn to it. It is a way to experiment with “what if’s” and “maybes.” It is also the ultimate power fantasy. Go back in time, fix one event or stop another from happening, and you fix everything that is wrong with the world. Who would ever pass that up?