From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to HG Wells’ War of the Worlds – a lot of people’s fancy and fantasy have been captivated by stories of people having the ability to travel through time in search of buried treasures or answers to childhood dreams.
For many of those who were hooked, it’s because of the tickling prospect of revisiting the annals of history that they so want to experience first-hand. For others, it’s the possibility of seeing what lies in the near and distant future that keeps them turning the pages.
From the first novels, science fiction has considerably evolved. Today, the modern time travel novel as we know it benefits a lot from the current and predicted technological and scientific advancements. Combining all these information with the approach of earlier time travel novels, the modern authors are able to create highly complex plots with made-for-cinema presentation.
With this in mind, I’m sharing some of the best time travel novels that have greatly brought science fiction to the popular consciousness of readers around the world:
• Man in the Empty Suit. The sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates, Paul Levinson’s novel deals about a time traveler’s rather unique passion: visit himself and its versions from different time periods. The biggest twist happened when his 39-year-old self learned of his 40-year-old self’s death, when he in fact had older versions! His quest to find the answer how it could be possible turned out to be a matter of life and death not only for himself but for others as well.
• The Shining Girls. Lauren Beukes presented and answered a rather interesting question in this exceptional time travel novel: what will happen if a killer has the power to travel through time to commit murders? This chilling prospect is the driving force behind the novel that reeks of evil doings and a near victim’s race to exact justice against a time-travelling serial killer.
• 11/22/63. Based on the Dallas assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy, acclaimed novelist Stephen King tackles the possibility of changing the course of human history. In the novel, his protagonist, a high school English teacher, travels to 1958 in the quest to prevent perhaps one of the most publicized assassinations ever to have hit the United States. Along the way, he found love in the person of a librarian. This interesting mix of romance, intrigue, and murder makes for a gripping read.
• A Knight in Shining Armor. It is many girls’ dream to ultimately find a knight in shining armor who will love and protect them to death. But what happens if a modern damsel in broken-hearted distress got what he wished for: an authentic 16-century knight clad in a, well, shining armor? This bestselling novel has all the trappings of a romantic time travel novel and is a highly recommended book.
Admittedly, this list is like barely scraping the bottom of the barrel since there are still a lot of fine modern novels that deal specifically with time travel. These are just some of the ones that caught my fancy and ultimately helped me publish my very own time travel novel out in bookstores now.
KT Jae is the author of Riddle of the Red Bible, a novel about a woman’s quest to rediscover a childhood past that had haunted her well into adulthood. This is also the author’s first debut novel delving on time travel.