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Mysterious Time Travelers With Convincing Stories

Jen Lennon

Nearly everyone has heard a completely ludicrous time travel story at least once in their life, like the internet-famous Backwoods Home magazine ad which read, " Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 322, Oakview, CA 93022. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before." It was, of course, a hoax, as many similar stories are. But what about real time travelers? Do they exist?

That's something you have to decide for yourself, as no time travel stories can be conclusively proven. But there are some convincing stories of people who may have actually traveled through time and other mysterious figures . So strap in, because this list is going to take you through some of the most credible time travel stories.

Two Professors See Marie Antoinette At Versailles - In 1901

Two Professors See Marie Antoinette At Versailles - In 1901

In 1901, two professors from St. Hugh's College in Oxford, England, went to visit the Palace of Versailles. Versailles was, of course, the French royal home until the monarchy was abolished in 1792. Marie Antoinette, one of the last royals to live there, was executed in 1793.

So on that day in 1901, when professors Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain were walking the grounds of the palace, it's pretty safe to say they did not expect to see Marie Antoinette in the flesh just chillin' on a stool outside the Petit Trianon - a private retreat built for Antoinette by her hubby Louis XVI. And yet, there she was, sitting and sketching and completely oblivious to the fact that two women were gaping at her and all the other people in 1780s period attire who had appeared just as suddenly as Antoinette.

Antoinette and everyone else disappeared when a tour guide approached Moberly and Jourdain. Together, they wrote a book, An Adventure , about their experience, and the story gained notoriety because of how grounded it seemed. These were two highly educated and well-respected women; they wouldn't just make up a story like that. So what was it, then? Did they actually travel through time? It's one of the most thoroughly reported, compelling, and famous time travel stories that can't be explained.

Pilot Sees A Futuristic Plane

Pilot Sees A Futuristic Plane

Air Marshall Sir Robert Victor Goddard was sent to inspect an abandoned airfield in Edinburgh in 1935. It was dilapidated, of which he made note. He got back in his plane and took off, but heavy rain and low visibility prevented him from going too far. So, he turned around and headed back to the airfield to wait out the storm.

As he approached the landing strip, though, something very strange happened. The clouds cleared, the sun shone brightly, and he saw that the previously abandoned land was now bustling with mechanics in blue jumpsuits. There were four yellow planes on the tarmac, and one of them was a kind he had never seen before. Keep in mind, this guy was a military pilot. He was pretty familiar with all the different plane models available at the time.

Goddard was totally confused. Had he imagined it? Was he hallucinating? Was it a dream? It couldn't be real, certainly. But four years later, he was sent back to the airfield. Far from being abandoned, it was now in full use, complete with blue-jumpsuit-wearing mechanics and yellow planes. And sitting on the runway was the plane he couldn't identify in 1935: a Miles Magister. The Magister was first manufactured in 1938, three years after Goddard initially saw it.

Goddard's story is convincing because he wasn't even trying to travel through time - something unexplainable just happened to him. 

Journalist Experiences Air Raid 11 Years Before It Occurs

Journalist Experiences Air Raid 11 Years Before It Occurs

Journalist J. Bernard Hutton and photographer Joachim Brandt were sent by a German newspaper to do a story on the Hamburg shipyard in 1932 . It was an uneventful visit - until the bombs began raining down on them.

Hutton and Brandt realized they were caught in the middle of an air raid and high-tailed it out of there, but not before snapping some photographs. When they got back to the center of Hamburg, no one believed their story. They developed the photos they took, intending to prove to everyone that they weren't crazy. In fact, they proved the opposite: the photos showed no signs of an air raid.

Eleven years later, Hutton was living in London when he opened up a newspaper and probably nearly spit his coffee across his desk. There was a story about Operation Gomorrah , an air raid on Hamburg. The accompanying photos looked exactly like what he experienced in 1932.

The Green Children Of Woolpit

The Green Children Of Woolpit

In the 12th Century, a young boy and girl were found alone in Woolpit, England . They didn't speak English (or any other identifiable language, for that matter) and their skin was green. That's right, green.

They were taken in by a local villager, and though the boy died soon after, the girl survived and eventually learned to speak English. Finally, she was able to tell someone where she came from. She said she had come from a twilight-covered place called St. Martin's Land and that she and her brother were taking care of their father's sheep one day when they found a cave. They went into the cave, and after walking for what felt like a very long time, they emerged in Woolpit. 

Maybe it's just a folk tale. Or maybe they came from the future. After all, their story does sound suspiciously like a time slip. Unfortunately for them, they were never able to get back to where - or when - they came from.

Charlotte Warburton Travels Through Time Without Even Realizing It

Charlotte Warburton Travels Through Time Without Even Realizing It

In 1968, Charlotte Warburton entered a cafe she had never seen before. Nothing seemed amiss, but when she tried to go back a few days later, it had vanished. Charlotte later learned that there was, in fact, a cafe in that spot - many years ago.

It had been replaced by a supermarket long before Charlotte claims to have walked in and visited it.

A Police Officer Travels To The 1950s From 1996

A Police Officer Travels To The 1950s From 1996

In 1996, a police officer and his wife were shopping in Liverpool . His wife went into a bookshop while he took off for a CD store down the street. As he walked away from the bookstore, he noticed that everything was suddenly quiet. Then, a van that looked like it was from the 1950s honked and swerved around him. Somehow, he was standing in the middle of the street, and stranger than that, everyone around him was dressed in '50s-style clothing.

Confused, he tried to go back to the bookstore, but it wasn't there. In its place was a women's clothing shop named Cripps. So he went into the clothing shop, but as soon as he did, it was a bookstore again. He was back in 1996, but couldn't figure out what happened to him - until he learned that Cripps hadn't existed since the 1950s.

The Man From Taured

The Man From Taured

In 1954, a man trying to get through customs at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, had a bit of trouble with the customs agents. It wasn't because he "forgot" to declare something on his customs form, but because he claimed to be from a country that didn't exist - and he had a passport and stamps to prove it.

His passport was from a country named Taured , which he claimed was in between Spain and France. When customs officials pulled out a map and asked him if he meant Andorra, he became angry. He said that yes, the location was right, but Taured had existed for at least 1,000 years. He had never heard of Andorra.  

He was given a hotel room for the night while the police tried to figure out what was happening. Even though there were armed guards posted outside his room, the man had vanished by the next morning. His passport, which had been stored in the security office at the airport, was also gone. Officials never figured out the mystery of the man from Taured.

Jophar Vorin Claimed To Be From Laxaria

Jophar Vorin Claimed To Be From Laxaria

In 1850, a man named  Jophar Vorin was found in  Frankfort-on-the-Oder, Germany, and questioned. He spoke very broken German, which made his claims even more difficult to understand. He said he was from Laxaria, and spoke the languages Laxarian and Abramian. He said he was in search of his long-lost brother, but he was shipwrecked on the way to his destination.

Vorin didn't recognize any of the maps or globes that were presented to him. He claimed that the world as he knew it had five sections:  Sakria, Aflar, Aslar, Auslar, and Euplar. In the Year-Book of Facts in Science and Art ,  John Timbs reports Vorin was taken to Berlin to be questioned and studied. There's no doubt that Vorin existed; the question is, was he crazy? Or was he from a very distant future?

Four Friends Travel From 1979 To 1905

Four Friends Travel From 1979 To 1905

In 1979,  Geoff and Pauline Simpson and Len and Cynthia Gisby were traveling through France. When it became late, they decided to find a hotel for the night. They found a place not too far down the road they were traveling. It was an odd place; the doors to the rooms only had wooden latches, no locks. And the windows only had thick shutters, no glass. 

In the morning, they had breakfast at the hotel and encountered two gendarmes (armed French policemen) that were wearing old-looking uniforms, complete with capes. The whole experience at the hotel seemed strange, not least because their stay only cost 19 francs - other hotels in the area cost over 200 francs. Still, they happily went on their way, and on their return journey, tried to stop and stay at the hotel again. Except it had seemingly vanished into thin air. And the uniforms those gendarmes were wearing? They were from around 1905 .

A 20th Century Doctor Finds Himself In The 1800s

A 20th Century Doctor Finds Himself In The 1800s

In 1935, Dr. EG Moon was leaving the residence of one of his patients in Kent, England when he realized his car was not where he had left it. Both the driveway and the road seemed a lot rougher than he remembered. Dr. Moon spotted a man walking by the house, and he realized that the man was wearing several capes and a top hat and carrying a long-barreled gun. He looked to Moon like he was from the 19th century, not the 20th.

Dr. Moon turned to go back to the house, but as he did, he saw that the driveway was paved again, and his car was once again parked in it. He turned back towards the road to look for the man, but he had vanished.

In 2000, A Mysterious Man Named John Titor Claimed To Come From The Year 2036

In 2000, A Mysterious Man Named John Titor Claimed To Come From The Year 2036

In November 2000, the Time Travel Institute forums saw a spike in unusual activity. Nestled among the usual conspiracy theories and far-fetched UFO sightings were a string of posts from a man who called himself John Titor . He claimed to be from the year 2036, saying the government sent him back in time to 1975 to retrieve an IBM computer, which they needed in order to debug some computer programs. He hopped off his time machine in 2000 for personal reasons, and since he was already there, he decided to warn everyone about how crappy the future was going to get.

He claimed that civil unrest would begin in the United States in 2004 and there would be a full-blown civil war by 2012. By 2015, he said, a quick World War III would have come and gone. Of course, none of these things have happened, so you're probably wondering: why did people believe this wingnut?

It's because his posts about time travel were so detailed, the description of its mechanics and his machine so thorough, that it seemed almost impossible that he wasn't telling the truth. 

Two Men From 1969 Drive Straight To The 1940s

Two Men From 1969 Drive Straight To The 1940s

In 1969, two men were having lunch in a Southwestern Louisiana town. Afterward, they got in their car and headed back to work along US Route 167, a highway that spans much of the state. In the distance, they saw an old car . As they got closer to it, they realized it was moving very slowly and they could see the year "1940" printed on its license plate. The two men pulled up alongside the car and peered in to see if everything was okay; they were greeted by the sight of a woman, done up in full 1940s regalia, and a small child, both of whom looked very confused and even, they thought, frightened.

They gestured to the woman, indicating that she should pull over and they would help her. As she began to pull onto the side of the road, the two men stopped a few yards in front of her. When they turned around to make sure she had parked safely, the whole car had vanished into thin air.

Preston Nichols And Al Bielek Claim They Were Part Of The Alleged 'Montauk Project'

Preston Nichols And Al Bielek Claim They Were Part Of The Alleged 'Montauk Project'

At an Air Force base in Montauk, NY, at the eastern tip of Long Island,  Preston Nichols claims  some top-secret government time travel experiments took place. Nichols writes in The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time that, in the 1980s, he recovered repressed memories of working on the project. And his claims seem outlandish: they experimented on children; one child had psychic abilities; they created a time portal to 1943. But not just any moment in 1943: the portal opened up onto the USS Eldridge , the subject of another famous alleged government project, the Philadelphia Experiment. 

Proponents of the Philadelphia Experiment conspiracy theory purport that, at the height of World War II, the US conducted a series of tests to try and cloak its warships. They wanted their ships to be invisible and undetectable. In October 1943, they reportedly succeeded, but there was a side effect: the Eldridge traveled back ten minutes in time and the experience drove the crew mad. They were brainwashed afterward, their memories wiped of the whole incident. A film about these alleged events, The Philadelphia Experiment , was released in 1984. And wouldn't you know it, that film triggered some repressed memories in one Al Bielek.

Bielek began discussing these memories with the press, which brought him to the attention of Nichols. The two got in touch and together told a story that linked the Montauk Project and the Philadelphia Experiment. Bielek had traveled through the time portal from the USS Eldridge to Montauk. The scientists at Montauk pushed him back through to the Eldridge . 

It's easy to dismiss Nichols's and Bielek's claims as pure science fiction, but the tale is so compelling, so detailed and unbelievable, don't you almost want it to be true? 

  • Graveyard Shift
  • Time Travel

As they say in well-written scripts, "You mean... like time travel?" + also a few bizarre stories about real people who have claimed, despite every law of physics, they have traveled through time.

Pictures of Real Time Trave...

The 35 Best Books About Time Travel

Here's what to read after you finish Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

best books about time travel

Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

Gabaldon first published Outlander —the book that would eventually inspire the television series starring Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Sam Heughan as Jamie —in 1991, and the ninth novel in the series, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone , came out in November 2021.

Ahead of the seventh season of Outlander , now's the perfect time (ha) to dive into time travel books. From time traveling romance to alternate realities to murder mysteries, there's something for everyone here.

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife

Any list about time travel books must begin with The Time Traveler's Wife , right? This bestselling novel tells the love story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Plot sound familiar? The book was adapted into a 2009 film starring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana, and a 2022 TV show starring Theo James and Rose Leslie .

Read more: 20 of the best Time Travel Films Ever Made

A Murder in Time

A Murder in Time

Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI, until one disastrous raid when half her team is murdered and a mole in the FBI is uncovered. After she recovers from her wounds, she's determined to find the man responsible for the death of her team—yet upon her arrival in England, she stumbles back in time to 1815. Mistaken for a lady's maid, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the period as she figures out how to get back to her own timeline. There are five books in the Kendra Donovan series , so if you love a time travel mystery, don't miss these.


Author Octavia Butler is a queen of science fiction, and Kindred is her bestselling novel about time travel. In it, she tells the story of Dana, a Black woman, who is celebrating her 26th birthday in 1976. Abruptly, she's transported back to Maryland, circa 1815, where she's on a plantation and has to save Rufus, the white son of the plantation owner. It's not just a time travel book, but one that expertly weaves in narratives of enslaved people and explores the Antebellum South.

Faye, Faraway

Faye, Faraway

Diana Gabaldon herself called Faye, Faraway "a lovely, deeply moving story of loss and love and memory made real , " so you know it's going to be good. The plot focuses on Faye, a mother of two, who lost her own mother, Jeanie, when she was just 8 years old. When Faye suddenly finds herself transported back in time, she befriends her mother—but doesn't let on who she really is. Eventually, she has to choose between her past and her future.

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair

In this version of Great Britain circa 1985, time travel is routine. Our protagonist is Thursday Next, a literary detective, who is placed on a case when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë's novel.

Bonus: The Eyre Affair is the first in a seven book series following Thursday.

The River of No Return: A Novel

The River of No Return: A Novel

Lord Nicholas Davenant is about to die in the Napoleonic Wars in 1812, and wakes up 200 years later. But he longs to return back in time to his love, Julia. When he arrives in modern society, a mysterious organization called the Guild tells him "there is no return," until one day, they summon him to London and he learns it's possible to travel back through time. A spy thriller that's also historical romance that's also time travel... Say less.

One Last Stop

One Last Stop

Casey McQuiston's second novel ( following Red, White, and Royal blue, which is going to be a major motion picture this summer ) is a queer time-loop romance set on the Q train in New York City, and it's riveting. August is 23, working at a 24-hour diner, and meets a gorgeous, charming girl on the train: Jane. But she can't seem to meet up with her off the Q train—until they figure out Jane is stuck in time from the 1970s. How did she travel through time? Can August get Jane unstuck? Will they live happily ever after!? The questions abound.

What the Wind Knows

What the Wind Knows

Anne Gallagher grew up hearing her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. When she returns to the country to spread his ashes, she is transported back in time to 1921—and is drawn into the struggle for Irish independence. There, she meets Dr. Thomas Smith, and must decide whether or not she should return to her own timeline or stay in the past. As one reviewer wrote on Amazon, What the Wind Knows is a "spectacular time travel journey filled with love and loss."

The Midnight Library: A Novel

The Midnight Library: A Novel

Imagine a library with an infinite number of books—each containing an alternate reality about your life. That's the plot of The Midnight Library , where our protagonist Nora Seed enters different versions of her life. She undoes old breakups, follows her dream of becoming a glaciologist, and so much more—but what happens to her original life?

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: A Novel

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: A Novel

In this novel from Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland, magic existed—until 1851. A secret government organization, the Department of Diachronic Operations (or D.O.D.O. for short), is dedicated to bringing magic back, and its members will travel through time to change history to do so. As Kirkus Reviews wrote , the novel "blend[s] time travel with Bourne-worthy skulduggery." It's a delight for any fans of science fiction, with a slow burn romance between military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons and linguist Melisande Stokes.

This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, this epistolary romantic novel tells the story of two time-traveling rivals who fall in love. Agents Red and Blue travel back and forth throughout time, trying to alter universes on behalf of their warring empires—and start to leave each other messages. The messages begin taunting but soon turn flirtatious—and when Red's commander discovers her affection for Blue, they soon embark down a timeline they can't change.

The House on the Strand

The House on the Strand

Set at an ancient Cornish house called Kilmarth, where Daphne du Maurier lived from 1967, The House on the Strand story follows Dick Young, who has been offered use of Kilmarth by an old college friend, Magnus Lane. Magnus, a biophysicist, is developing a drug that enables people to travel back to the 14th century, and Dick reluctantly agrees to be a test subject. The catch: If you touch anyone, you're transported back to the present. As the story goes on, Dick's visits back to the 1300s become more frequent, and his life back in the modern world becomes unstable.

The Kingdoms

The Kingdoms

It’s 1898 and there’s a man named Joe, who lives in London, which is, in this alternate historical, a part of the French Empire as in this version of the past, Britain lost the Napoleonic Wars. Joe has gotten off a train from Scotland and cannot remember anything about who he is or where he’s from. He soon returns to his work, and after a few years, he is sent to repair a lighthouse in Eilean Mor in the Outer Hebrides. Joe then finds himself a century earlier, on a British boat with a mysterious captain, fighting the French and hoping for a future that is different than the one he came from. If you're into time travel and queer romance and alternate history, this is for you.

The Future of Another Timeline

The Future of Another Timeline

In 1992, 17-year-old Beth agrees to help hide the dead body of her friend's abusive boyfriend. The murder sets Beth and her friends on "a path of escalating violence and vengeance" to protect other young women. In 2022, Tess decides to use time travel to fight for change around key moments in history. When Tess believes she's found a way to make an edit to history that actually sticks, she encounters a group of time travelers bent on stopping her at any cost. Tess and Beth's lives intertwine, and war breaks out across the timeline.

Shadow of Night

Shadow of Night

The sequel to A Discovery of Witches , the plot of Shadow of Night picks up right where the story left off: With Matthew, a vampire, and Diana, a witch, traveling back in time to Elizabethan London to search for an enchanted manuscript. You really need to read the first book before reading Shadow of Night , but the series by Deborah Harkness is a swoony magical romance.

And: It's now a TV show! ( Season one is streaming on Amazon Prime Video .)

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

In The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, the same day happens again and again. Each day, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered at 11:00 p.m at Blackheath. And each day, our protagonist Aiden Bishop wakes up in the body of a different witness—and tries to solve her murder. He only has eight days, and it's a race against time to solve Evelyn's murder and to escape the time loop.

Recursion: A Novel

Recursion: A Novel

In 2018 New York City, detective Barry Sutton fails to talk Ann out of jumping off a building. But before Ann falls to her death, she tells him she is suffering from False Memory Syndrome—a new neurological disease where people are afflicted with memories of lives they never lived. The dissonance between their present and these memories drives them to death. This is best read unspoiled, but it's undoubtedly a time travel story you haven't read before.

The Mirror

On the eve of her wedding day, Shay Garrett looks into her grandmother's antique mirror and faints. When she wakes up, she's in the same house—but in the body of her grandmother, Brandy, as a young woman in 1900. And Brandy awakens in Shay's body in the present day in 1978. It's like Freaky Friday , but with time travel to the Victorian era.

Here and Now and Then

Here and Now and Then

Kin Stewart is a time traveler from 2142, stuck in 1990s suburban San Francisco. A rescue team arrives to bring Kin back to his timeline—but 18 years too late. Does Kin stay with his "new" family, and the life he's built for himself in San Francisco, or does he return to his original timeline? He's stuck between two families—and ultimately, this is a time travel tale about fatherhood.

A Knight in Shining Armor

A Knight in Shining Armor

Originally published in 1989, this romance novel features a present-day heroine and a knight from the 16th century who fall in love. Per the book's description: "Abandoned by a cruel fate, lovely Dougless Montgomery lies weeping upon a cold tombstone in an English church. Suddenly, the most extraordinary man appears. It is Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck…and according to his tombstone he died in 1564. Drawn to his side by a bond so sudden and compelling it overshadows reason, Dougless knows that Nicholas is nothing less than a miracle: a man who does not seek to change her, who finds her perfect, fascinating, just as she is. What Dougless never imagined was how strong the chains are that tie them to the past…or the grand adventure that lay before them."

Headshot of Emily Burack

Emily Burack (she/her) is the Senior News Editor for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Before joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma , a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram .

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20 best Time travel Short Stories with PDF

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  • June 21, 2023

20 of the best Time Travel Short Stories with PDF

Time Travel Short Stories

As a passionate science enthusiast (read as “amateur” like 99% of us out there) and a lover of any sci fi movies (read as nerd”.. ha ha… cry cry), I have always found myself absolutely captivated by time travel. The last article I wrote was on my favorite murder mystery short stories and then I jumped to my favorite stories about giants and giantesses . In 2019 there was a Netflix series called Dark which made the concept of time travel so confusing yet so well explained that millions across the world fell in love with it. Time travel explores and exposes infinite possibilities and that excites anyone and everyone, myself included.

There is something fantastic about time traversing which is basically travelling into the past and witnessing historical events firsthand and even being able to alter the course of history itself. So it is no wonder that time travel short  stories excites me! These compact narratives offer an incredible blend of science fiction, adventure, and intellectual exploration, immersing readers in mind-bending concepts that challenge our perceptions of reality.

In this article, let us go on a thrilling journey into the world of time travel short stories. I have noted down some classics penned by the great literary giants of the past and even some contemporary works of the modern world that seeks to push the boundaries of time travel. Let us jump into a selection of twenty well-known time travel short stories.

If you are interested in changing to other stories, perhaps you can try 10 best Native American Short stories and Folk Tales or perhaps read about the 10 best necromancer stories .

Also You can download a free PDF copy of the 20 best time travel short stories right below.

“The Magician’s Apprentice” by Trudi Canavan

The Magician's Apprentice

One my favorite short stories on time travel is of course “ The Magician’s Apprentice ” by Trudi Canavan . Simply put, it is one of the most captivating time travel novels out there and it is incredible. Straightway the story delves into the origins of a powerful magician. The story follows the young protagonist, Tessia, as she embarks on an extraordinary journey that shapes her destiny. In a world where magic exists, Tessia discovers her own latent abilities and becomes the apprentice of the skilled magician Lord Dakon. As she navigates the complexities of magic, politics, and her own inner struggles, Tessia uncovers secrets of the past and unravels the mysteries of time travel.

As Tessia grapples with her newfound powers and the responsibilities that come with them, she faces moral dilemmas and challenges the status quo. Canavan explores themes of power, destiny, and the consequences of one’s choices, as Tessia’s journey takes unexpected turns and forces her to confront her own limitations.

“The Magician’s Apprentice” is not only a thrilling tale of magic and adventure but also a coming-of-age story filled with personal growth and empowerment. Canavan’s imaginative world-building and compelling characters make this novel a must-read for fans of time travel and fantasy genres alike.

“The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells

The Time Machine Novel by H.G. Wells

“ The Time Machine ” by H.G. Wells is a captivating and visionary science fiction classic, the epitome of all time travel short stories,  that swept me away on an extraordinary journey through time and the future of humanity. In this thought-provoking tale, we accompany the Time Traveller as he ventures into the unknown, exploring the far reaches of time and encountering the enigmatic Eloi and the terrifying Morlocks.

H.G. Wells’ writing is concise and evocative, painting a vivid picture of the Time Traveller’s adventures and the stark landscapes he encounters. The author’s imaginative descriptions and attention to detail bring the future world to life, leaving an indelible impression on the reader’s mind.

“The Time Machine” delves into themes of evolution, social commentary, and the consequences of human progress. Wells presents a thought-provoking examination of class divisions and the potential future of civilization. The Time Traveller’s observations and encounters challenge our perceptions of society and humanity’s place in the world.

I would give this groundbreaking novel a visionary 9 out of 10! It is a seminal work of science fiction that continues to inspire readers with its imaginative concepts and social commentary. If you’re seeking a thought-provoking and thrilling adventure through time, “The Time Machine” is an absolute must-read that will transport you to a world of wonder and contemplation.

“The Goblin Emperor” by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor Novel by Katherine Addison

“ The Goblin Emperor ” by Katherine Addison is a captivating and enchanting fantasy novel that swept me away to a world of courtly intrigue, political maneuvering, and personal growth. In this enthralling tale, we follow Maia, a young half-goblin who unexpectedly becomes the Emperor of the Elflands after the death of his father and older brothers.

Katherine Addison’s writing is elegant and immersive, transporting readers to a meticulously crafted world filled with intricate court rituals, vibrant characters, and a richly imagined society. The author’s attention to detail and skillful characterization breathe life into the Elflands, making it a world that feels both familiar and unique. “The Goblin Emperor” explores themes of identity, compassion, and the challenges of leadership. Maia’s journey from a misunderstood and overlooked figure to a confident and compassionate ruler is both inspiring and heartwarming. The novel offers a nuanced portrayal of political complexities and the importance of empathy and understanding.

I would give this enchanting novel a mesmerizing 9 out of 10! It is a beautifully written and thought-provoking story that will captivate readers who appreciate intricate world-building and character-driven narratives. Prepare to be swept away by the courtly intrigues and personal triumphs of “The Goblin Emperor” as you embark on a journey of self-discovery alongside Maia.

“Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot” by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

“ Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot ” by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer is a delightful and whimsical fantasy of manners that transported me to an enchanting world of magic and Regency-era intrigue. In this captivating novel, we follow the adventures of cousins Kate and Cecelia as they navigate the social intricacies of London society while uncovering a magical mystery.

Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s writing is witty, charming, and infused with a sense of playful banter. The story unfolds through a series of letters exchanged between Kate and Cecelia, providing unique insights into their individual experiences and the unfolding events. The authors’ seamless collaboration creates a narrative that is engaging, clever, and filled with unexpected twists.

“Sorcery & Cecelia” effortlessly blends elements of historical fiction, romance, and fantasy, creating a delightful fusion of genres. The characters are vibrant and endearing, with Kate and Cecelia’s distinct personalities shining through their correspondence. The magical elements, including the enchanted chocolate pot, add a whimsical touch to the story.

I would give this enchanting novel a delightful 8.5 out of 10! It is a charming and light-hearted read that combines the elegance of the Regency era with the wonder of magic. If you’re seeking a delightful escape into a world of manners and mischief, “Sorcery & Cecelia” is the perfect choice to satisfy your craving for both romance and enchantment.

“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Novel by Susanna Clarke

“ Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell ”  by Susanna Clarke is a spellbinding and immersive historical fantasy that transported me to a world where magic is revived in 19th-century England. In this extraordinary novel, we follow the titular characters, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, as they navigate the intricate world of magic, facing personal and moral challenges along the way.

Susanna Clarke’s writing is exquisite, rich with historical detail and a deep understanding of folklore and mythology. The prose is dense and evocative, capturing the essence of the time period and immersing the reader in a world where magic and reality intertwine. Clarke’s meticulous world-building and extensive footnotes add depth and authenticity to the narrative.

“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” explores themes of power, obsession, and the consequences of playing with forces beyond one’s control. The characters are complex and multidimensional, with their own ambitions, flaws, and conflicts. The plot is a tapestry of intrigue, blending historical events with fantastical elements, and drawing the reader into a web of mystery and wonder.

I would give this remarkable novel a mesmerizing 9 out of 10! It is a true masterpiece of storytelling that seamlessly blends history and fantasy, inviting readers to explore the boundaries of imagination. Prepare to be enthralled by the world of “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” and embark on a captivating journey through the realms of magic and the human psyche.

“Sorcerer to the Crown” by Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown Novel by Zen Cho

“ Sorcerer to the Crown “by Zen Cho is a delightful and enchanting fantasy of manners that transported me to a world of magic, political intrigue, and social challenges. In this captivating novel, we are introduced to Zacharias Wythe, the first African Sorcerer Royal of England, as he grapples with his responsibilities, societal prejudices, and a country on the brink of magical crisis.

Zen Cho’s writing is elegant and immersive, capturing the essence of Regency-era manners and seamlessly blending it with elements of fantasy. The prose is filled with wit, charm, and a touch of whimsy that kept me engaged from start to finish. Cho’s exploration of race, class, and gender dynamics adds depth and relevance to the story. “Sorcerer to the Crown” combines intricate world-building with a cast of compelling characters. Zacharias Wythe is a charismatic protagonist, struggling to assert his authority in a world that questions his worthiness. Prunella Gentleman, a young woman with her own magical abilities, challenges societal norms and brings a refreshing perspective to the narrative.

I would give this delightful novel a bewitching 8.5 out of 10! It is a captivating blend of fantasy, social commentary, and adventure that will appeal to fans of both historical fiction and magical storytelling. Prepare to be charmed by the enchantment of “Sorcerer to the Crown” as you delve into a world where magic and manners intertwine in delightful and unexpected ways.

“Shades of Milk and Honey” by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey Novel by Mary Robinette Kowal

“ Shades of Milk and Honey ” by Mary Robinette Kowal is a charming and elegant fantasy of manners that transported me to a world where artistry and magic intertwine. In this enchanting novel, we follow the talented Jane Ellsworth, a skilled illusionist, as she navigates a society filled with social expectations, romantic entanglements, and the discovery of a secret that could change everything.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s writing is graceful and evocative, capturing the essence of Regency-era England with a touch of magic. The prose is imbued with a sense of romance and subtlety, reflecting the societal norms and artistic pursuits of the time. Kowal’s attention to detail and seamless integration of magical elements create a world that feels both familiar and fantastical.

“Shades of Milk and Honey” explores themes of love, ambition, and the power of creativity. Jane Ellsworth is a captivating protagonist, balancing her desires for both artistic recognition and personal happiness. The interactions between the characters are filled with wit, charm, and a touch of whimsy, making for a delightful reading experience.

I would give this enchanting novel a delightful 8 out of 10! It is a delightful blend of Regency-era romance, artistry, and subtle magic that will transport readers to a world where elegance and enchantment coexist. If you’re seeking a book that combines Jane Austen-esque manners with a touch of fantasy, “Shades of Milk and Honey” is a delightful choice that will leave you longing for more of its captivating world.

“Tooth and Claw” by Jo Walton

Tooth and Claw Novel by Jo Walton

“ Tooth and Claw ” by Jo Walton is a unique and enthralling fantasy of manners that transported me to a world populated by dragons and filled with family drama, social hierarchy, and the pursuit of power. In this captivating novel, dragons are the central characters, and we follow the lives of various dragon families as they navigate their complex society.

Jo Walton’s writing is imaginative and immersive, painting a vivid picture of a dragon society with its own rules, customs, and traditions. The prose is elegant and captures the essence of a Victorian-era novel, complete with its meticulous attention to societal norms and intricate social interactions.

“Tooth and Claw” explores themes of family, inheritance, and societal expectations. The dragon characters are engaging and multifaceted, each with their own motivations and desires. Walton expertly weaves together their individual stories, interweaving personal conflicts with broader societal changes.

I would give this intriguing novel a captivating 8 out of 10! It is a unique and refreshing take on the fantasy genre, offering a clever twist by featuring dragons in a world of manners and propriety. If you’re seeking a novel that combines fantasy with Victorian sensibilities and intricate family dynamics, “Tooth and Claw” is a captivating choice that will leave you eager to explore this dragon-filled world further.

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus Novel by Erin Morgenstern

“ The Night Circus ” by Erin Morgenstern is a mesmerizing and enchanting tale that transported me to a world of magic, wonder, and the captivating allure of a mysterious circus. In this spellbinding novel, we are drawn into the rivalry between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, as they showcase their extraordinary abilities within the confines of the Night Circus.

Erin Morgenstern’s writing is lyrical and evocative, painting a vivid and atmospheric landscape that immerses the reader in the ethereal world of the circus. The prose is rich with sensory detail, creating a sensory feast for the imagination. Morgenstern’s ability to evoke emotions and capture the essence of wonder and mystery is truly remarkable.

“The Night Circus” explores themes of love, sacrifice, and the transformative power of art. The characters are beautifully drawn, each with their own intricate storylines and connections to the circus. The interplay between magic, illusion, and reality adds depth and intrigue to the narrative, leaving the reader questioning what is real and what is mere illusion.

I would give this enchanting novel a captivating 9.5 out of 10! It is a breathtaking work of imagination and storytelling that will leave you awe-struck and longing for more. “The Night Circus” is a testament to the power of imagination and the beauty that can be found in the most extraordinary places. Step into the world of the circus and prepare to be captivated by its mystique and magic.

“The House of Shattered Wings” by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

“ The House of Shattered Wings ” by Aliette de Bodard is a dark and immersive fantasy of manners that took me on a haunting journey through a decaying Paris ruled by fallen angels and the remnants of once-mighty houses. In this captivating novel, we delve into a world ravaged by war and filled with political intrigue, ancient secrets, and the struggle for power.

Aliette de Bodard’s writing is atmospheric and evocative, painting a vivid picture of a city in ruins and a society teetering on the brink of collapse. The prose is rich with intricate details, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the world of fallen angels, magic, and complex relationships. De Bodard’s skillful blend of dark fantasy and a vividly realized setting creates a sense of unease and wonder.

“The House of Shattered Wings” explores themes of redemption, loyalty, and the consequences of past choices. The characters are multifaceted, with their own hidden agendas and haunted pasts. Their interactions are filled with tension and intrigue, as they navigate a world where allegiances are fragile and betrayal lurks in every shadow.

I would give this haunting novel a compelling 8.5 out of 10! It is a beautifully crafted work that combines elements of fantasy, mystery, and political drama. “The House of Shattered Wings” will transport you to a dark and atmospheric Paris, where the remnants of fallen angels and shattered dreams collide. Prepare to be captivated by the intricate web of secrets and the atmospheric world Aliette de Bodard has created.

“Enchantress from the Stars” by Sylvia Engdahl

“ Enchantress from the Stars ” by Sylvia Engdahl is a captivating and thought-provoking science fiction novel that seamlessly blends elements of fantasy and space exploration. In this enthralling tale, we follow Elana, a young anthropologist from an advanced civilization, as she embarks on a mission to a primitive planet to observe and guide its inhabitants.

Sylvia Engdahl’s writing is engaging and immersive, transporting readers to a world of interstellar travel and cultural exchange. The prose is accessible and filled with a sense of wonder, making it suitable for readers of various ages. Engdahl’s exploration of different societies, their beliefs, and their clash of ideologies adds depth and relevance to the narrative.

“Enchantress from the Stars” explores themes of understanding, empathy, and the power of perspective. Elana’s journey as she becomes deeply involved with the people of the primitive planet challenges her own preconceived notions and forces her to question her role as an observer. The novel raises important questions about the impact of intervention and the dangers of imposing one’s own values on others.

I would give this thought-provoking novel an enchanting 8 out of 10! It is a compelling blend of science fiction and fantasy that explores complex themes in a relatable and accessible manner. “Enchantress from the Stars” will transport readers on a journey of discovery, urging them to contemplate the power of compassion and understanding in a universe filled with diverse cultures and perspectives.

“The Silvered” by Tanya Huff

“ The Silvered ” by Tanya Huff is an exhilarating and imaginative fantasy novel that combines elements of steampunk, magic, and political intrigue. In this captivating book, we are introduced to a world where magic-wielding shapeshifters known as the Silvered are pitted against a ruthless empire in a battle for survival.

Tanya Huff’s writing is fast-paced and action-packed, immersing readers in a richly developed world filled with captivating characters and high-stakes adventures. The prose is dynamic, propelling the story forward with a sense of urgency and excitement. Huff’s skillful blend of magic and technology creates a unique and compelling setting.

“The Silvered” explores themes of resistance, sacrifice, and the power of unity. The characters are vibrant and multi-dimensional, with their own strengths and vulnerabilities. The interactions between the Silvered and the empire’s forces are filled with tension and strategic maneuvering, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

I would give this thrilling novel an adrenaline-fueled 8.5 out of 10! It is a fantastic blend of fantasy and steampunk, offering a fresh take on shape-shifting and political intrigue. “The Silvered” will sweep you into a world where magic and machinery collide, where loyalty is tested, and where unlikely alliances are forged. Prepare to be enthralled by Tanya Huff’s thrilling storytelling and embark on a high-stakes adventure that will leave you craving for more.

“The Glamourist Histories” series by Mary Robinette Kowal

“ The Glamourist Histories ” series by Mary Robinette Kowal is a delightful and enchanting collection of novels that seamlessly combines historical fiction with elements of fantasy and romance. Set in an alternate Regency era, these books follow the adventures of Jane Ellsworth and her husband, Vincent, as they navigate a world of glamour, artistry, and political intrigue.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s writing is elegant and immersive, capturing the manners and etiquette of the Regency period while infusing it with the magical art of glamour. The prose is laced with wit, charm, and a keen attention to detail, transporting readers to a world that feels both familiar and fantastical.

“The Glamourist Histories” explore themes of love, artistry, societal expectations, and the pursuit of personal happiness. Jane and Vincent’s relationship is a delight to follow, as they navigate the challenges of their artistic pursuits and the complexities of the world around them. Kowal’s meticulous research and seamless integration of glamour as a form of magic add depth and richness to the narrative.

I would give this enchanting series a sparkling 9 out of 10! It is a delightful blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, showcasing Mary Robinette Kowal’s skill in crafting engaging and immersive stories. “The Glamourist Histories” will transport you to a world where art and magic intertwine, where love and ambition collide, and where the power of imagination knows no bounds. Prepare to be swept away by the elegance and enchantment of these remarkable novels.

“A Natural History of Dragons” by Marie Brennan

“ A Natural History of Dragons ” by Marie Brennan is a captivating and immersive novel that invites readers to embark on a thrilling adventure filled with scientific exploration, daring discoveries, and the allure of dragons. In this enchanting book, we follow the remarkable Lady Trent, a naturalist and scholar, as she recounts her early years and her passion for studying dragons.

Marie Brennan’s writing is evocative and richly descriptive, painting a vivid picture of a world where dragons exist alongside human society. The prose is imbued with a sense of wonder and intellectual curiosity, mirroring Lady Trent’s own insatiable thirst for knowledge. Brennan’s attention to detail and her ability to create a believable scientific framework for dragon research add depth and authenticity to the narrative.

“A Natural History of Dragons” explores themes of curiosity, resilience, and the pursuit of knowledge. Lady Trent is a compelling protagonist, defying societal norms and overcoming numerous obstacles in her quest to study dragons. The supporting characters are equally well-developed, each adding their own unique perspectives and dynamics to the story.

I would give this enthralling novel an adventurous 8.5 out of 10! It is a delightful blend of fantasy, science, and exploration, offering a fresh take on dragons and their place in a meticulously crafted world. “A Natural History of Dragons” will transport you to a realm of discovery and fascination, where the boundaries of scientific inquiry and the allure of mythical creatures merge. Prepare to be captivated by Marie Brennan’s vivid storytelling and embark on an extraordinary journey into the realm of dragons.

“The Glamour Thieves” by Don Allmon

“ The Glamour Thieves ” is an exhilarating cyberpunk fantasy novel written by Don Allmon. Set in a futuristic world where magic and technology coexist, this fast-paced adventure takes readers on a thrilling ride through a world of hackers, thieves, and dangerous secrets.

The story follows the unlikely duo of Douglas and Kit, two skilled thieves with a knack for trouble. When a heist gone wrong leads them to acquire a powerful magical artifact, they find themselves caught in a web of intrigue and betrayal. As they navigate the treacherous underworld, they encounter captivating characters and face life-threatening challenges.

Allmon’s writing is gritty and immersive, painting a vivid picture of the cyberpunk landscape with its neon-lit streets and high-tech gadgets. The blend of magic and technology adds a unique and compelling twist to the narrative, creating a sense of wonder and danger.

With its gripping plot, dynamic characters, and a healthy dose of wit and humor, “The Glamour Thieves” keeps readers on the edge of their seats from start to finish. I would confidently give it a solid 9 out of 10, as it delivers a thrilling and captivating story that will leave fans of cyberpunk and fantasy craving for more.

“The Winter Witch” by Paula Brackston

“ The Winter Witch ” by Paula Brackston is an enchanting tale that effortlessly weaves together elements of fantasy, romance, and time travel. Set against the backdrop of a picturesque village, the story immerses readers in a world where magic lurks just beneath the surface.

As I delved into the pages of this captivating novel, I found myself irresistibly drawn to Morgana, the protagonist, a young woman with an extraordinary gift for manipulating the weather. Brackston’s vivid descriptions painted a vivid picture of Morgana’s struggles and triumphs, making her journey feel all the more real.

The introduction of time travel added an intriguing twist to the narrative, allowing for unexpected encounters and heart-wrenching choices. The author masterfully handled the complexities of time manipulation, seamlessly blending the past and present. Overall, I would give “The Winter Witch” a solid 8 out of 10. It’s a captivating and beautifully crafted tale that will transport you to a world where magic and love intertwine, leaving you yearning for more.

“The First Men in the Moon” by H.G. Wells

“ The First Men in the Moon ” by H.G. Wells takes readers on an exhilarating journey to the moon, where the incredible adventures of two explorers unfold. As a fan of science fiction, I was captivated by the masterful storytelling and imaginative concepts that Wells presents in this novel. The narrative follows the protagonist, Mr. Bedford, and the eccentric scientist, Mr. Cavor, as they embark on an unexpected lunar expedition.

Wells skillfully intertwines scientific exploration, social commentary, and elements of time travel to create a gripping tale. The book beautifully captures the awe-inspiring wonders of the moon, vividly describing its strange inhabitants and captivating landscapes. The scientific theories and technological innovations presented in the story add depth and credibility to the narrative.

“The First Men in the Moon” has stood the test of time and continues to be a beloved classic in the science fiction genre. With its thought-provoking themes and thrilling plot, it deserves the average score of 8 out of 10 given by readers on the internet. I highly recommend this novel to anyone seeking a compelling adventure into the realms of space and time.

20 best Time travel short stories – PDF

Time travel short stories have provided endless possibilities for authors to explore the complexities of temporal manipulation, causality, and the human experience. These twenty examples represent just a glimpse into the vast world of time travel short stories and fiction, each offering a unique perspective and captivating narrative. As readers delve into these time travel short stories, they are transported across time, embracing the wonder and dangers that lie within the temporal realm.

Please happily download the free PDF copy of the most famous Time travel short stories

20 of the best Time Travel Short Stories

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Sifa Elizabeth Reads

Hi, thanks for the link to my review, but please could you flag on this blog post who the links are going to? Just so people know what the links are and to credit the people you’re linking to. Thanks!

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Ancient Origins

Time Travel: From Ancient Mythology to Modern Science

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Time travel and time machines have been a topic of science fiction and countless movies for many decades. In fact, it appears that the possibility to travel in time, either into the future or into the past, has appealed to the imagination of mankind for centuries. While many may think it is absurd to believe that we could travel backwards or forwards in time, some of the world’s most brilliant scientists have investigated whether it could one day be made a reality.

Research into Time Travel

Albert Einstein for example, concluded in his later years that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously, and most are familiar with his well-known concept of relativity. That is, that time is relative and not absolute as Newton claimed. With the proper technology, such as a very fast spaceship, one person is able to experience several days while another person simultaneously experiences only a few hours or minutes. Yet the wisdom of Einstein's convictions had very little impact on cosmology or science in general.

  • Passing Through the Gates of Time: The Mind, Time Travel, and St Augustine
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The majority of physicists have been slow to give up the ordinary assumptions we make about time. However, if time travel really was possible, one can hardly contemplate what this may mean for humanity. Whoever had the power to move through time, would have the power to modify history. While this may sound attractive, it would be impossible to know the consequences of any alteration of past events, and how this would affect the future.

Illustration from the Menologion of Basil II of the Seven Sleepers, a medieval legend about a group of youths who hid in a cave to escape persecution and emerged over 300 years later. (Public domain)

Illustration from the Menologion of Basil II of the Seven Sleepers, a medieval legend about a group of youths who hid in a cave to escape persecution and emerged over 300 years later. ( Public domain )

Time Travel in Ancient Mythology

If we look at ancient texts, we can find a number of references to time travel. In Hindu mythology, there is the story of King Raivata Kakudmi who travels to meet the creator Brahma . Even if this trip didn’t last long, when Kakudmi returned back to Earth, 108 yugas had passed on Earth, and it is thought that each yuga represents about 4 million years. The explanation Brahma gave to Kakudmi is that time runs differently in different planes of existence.

Similarly, we have references in the Quran about the cave of Al-Kahf. The story refers to a group of young Christian people, who in 250 AD tried to escape persecution and retreated, under God’s guidance, to a cave where God put them to sleep. They woke up 309 years later. This story coincides with the Christian story of the  seven sleepers , with a few differences.

Another story comes from the Japanese legend of Urashima Taro, an individual who was said to visit the underwater palace of the Dragon God Ryujin. He stayed there for three days, but when he returned to the surface, 300 years had passed. In the Buddhist text , Pali Canon, it is written that in the heaven of the thirty Devas (the place of the Gods), time passes at a different pace where one hundred Earth years count as a single day for them. There are many more references to time travel to be found within ancient mythology.

Urashima Taro returning from the Dragon King's Palace, only to find that 300 years had passed. (Public domain)

Urashima Taro returning from the Dragon King's Palace, only to find that 300 years had passed. ( Public domain )

Scientific Research into Time Travel

Probably the most well-known story of accidental time travel is the Philadelphia experiment which allegedly took place in 1943 with the purpose of cloaking a ship and making it invisible to enemy radar . However, it was said that the experiment went terribly wrong – the ship not only vanished completely from Philadelphia but it was teleported to Norfolk and went back in time for 10 seconds.

When the ship appeared again some crew members were physically fused to bulkheads, others developed mental disorders , a few disappeared completely, and some reported travelling into the future and back. Allegedly, Nikola Tesla, who was the director of Engineering and Research at Radio Company of America at the time, was involved in the experiment by making all the necessary calculations and drawings and also providing the generators.

Have you heard about the Chronovisor? Supposedly invented in the 60's, it was a machine that could catch electromagnetic information remaining in the æther and visualize it, so you could literally watch history. — N'Golo 69%… (@NgoloTesla) June 22, 2020

In 1960, we have another interesting case report of scientist Pellegrino Ernetti, who claimed that he developed the Chronivisor, a machine that would enable someone to see in the past. His theory was that anything that happens leaves an energy mark that can never be destroyed (something like the mystical Akashic Records). Ernetti allegedly developed this machine that could detect, magnify and convert this energy into an image – something like a TV showing what happened in the past.

Scientists have long been curious as to the possibility of time travel. (drawlab19 / Adobe Stock)

Scientists have long been curious as to the possibility of time travel. ( drawlab19 / Adobe Stock)

Controversial Experiments Related to Time Travel

In the 1980s, there are reports of another controversial time travel experiment, the  Montauk project , which again allegedly experimented with time travel among other things. Whether the Philadelphia and Montauk experiments actually took place is still under debate. However, it is common sense to assume that the military would definitely be interested in the possibility of time travel and would engage in extensive research on the subject.

In 2004, Marlin Pohlman, a scientist, engineer, and member of Mensa with a Bachelor, MBA and PhD, applied for a patent for a method of gravity distortion and time displacement. In 2013 Wasfi Alshdaifat filed another patent for a space compression and time dilation machine that could be used for time travel.

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  • Chronovisor: The Time Machine That Captured The Crucifixion of Jesus

According to PHYS.ORG , the physicist Professor Ronald Lawrence Mallett of the University of Connecticut was working in 2006 on the concept of time travel , based on Einstein’s theory of relativity. At the time, Mallett was absolutely convinced that time travelling was possible. He predicted that human time travel will be possible in our century. Particle physicist  Brian Cox , quoted in a 2013 article published in HuffPost , agreed that time travel is possible but only in one direction.

We also have the mysterious story of Ali Razeqi, managing director of the Iranian Centre for Strategic Inventions, who The Daily Mail reported had claimed to have developed a device that could see anywhere from 3 to 5 years in the future . His initial story disappeared from the internet a few hours after it was published.

In theory, time travel is possible, even if it is difficult to comprehend. Has the research cited above brought us closer towards making time travel a reality? If so, we can only hope that the technology does not get into the wrong hands.

Top image: Is time travel possible? Source: rolffimages / Adobe Stock

By John Black

Arnold, L. 23 July 2013. “The Time Machine Chronicles: Where Nuts and Pencil-necks Collide” in Mysterious Universe.

Ozaki, Y. T. No date. “The Story of Urashima Taro, The Fisher Lad” in Japanese Fairy Tales . Available at:

Zyga, L. 4 April 2006. “Professor predicts human time travel this century” in PHYS.ORG . Available at:

In fact the more I think of it you don't need clunky machines. That would speak to the paradox theory. I often go back to sorcery as means of technology. Think of time travel or time more like a spell that you have to break in order to travel.

Deonte N. Ferino

The concept of time is like a cipher or puzzle. All the terminology reads like some sort of anagram. For instance all of its integrals add up to 666 60 secs 60 mins 24hr. Also the terms allude to bondage. Ti me, C Lock & "Watch" wouldn't be surprised if the inventors of the terms were adepts in the concept of time travel. There's lots more...have fun.


'Aliens' are really time travellers from the very distant future. They can't return to the past physically, in flesh and blood, but they can do so as sort of holographs, travelling fasted than the speed of light. The people of the very distant future may have actually dispensed with their flesh and blood bodies by that time, or they may have simply evolved into skinny people with huge heads and eyes. Either way, they cannot intefere with the past. It's physically impossible for them. Two things are for certain - there are aliens, but no aliens have a human form - which as that of an ape, after all.

What about the theory that states a paradox cannot exist? If you could go back in time and kill yourself or your parents then you never existed to be able to go back in time.

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Dr John (Ioannis) Syrigos initially began writing on Ancient Origins under the pen name John Black. He is both a co-owner and co-founder of Ancient Origins.

John is a computer & electrical engineer with a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, a... Read More

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How I Became Obsessed With Accidental Time Travel

The web is awash with ordinary peoples’ stories of “time slips.” Their real magic is what they can tell us about our relationship to time.

story of travel through time

By Lucie Elven

This year, I turned 30, a development that came with a breathless sense of dread at time’s passing. It wakes me up in the early mornings: Nocturnal terror breaks through the surface of sleep like a whale breaching for air. My ambition and fear kick in together until I get up, pour myself some water and look out the window at the squid-ink sky and the string of lights along my neighbors’ houses. I lie down again after finding firmer mental ground, dry land.

So when a guy that my friend was seeing evangelized about “time slips” — a genre of urban legend in which people claim that, while walking in particular places, they accidentally traveled back, and sometimes forward, in time — I was a ripe target. Curious and increasingly existential, I Googled these supposed time slips. I found a global community of believers building an archive of temporal dislocations from the present. These congregants gathered in corners of the internet to testify about how, in the right conditions, the dusting of alienation that settles over the world as we age can crystallize into collective fiction.

I was initially skeptical of the vague language that time-slip writers employed to convey experiences I already found dubious: too many uses of foggy words like “blunder” and “sporting”; detail lavished on varieties of hats encountered. But I was drawn in by their secretive tone — I sensed that sharing these anecdotes was compromising, even shameful (“People would laugh at you,” one poster wrote). Disapproval became attraction, and I returned to the message boards throughout the summer.

Here’s a classic that, like the best of these stories, was related secondhand on a paranormal blog: In a Liverpudlian street in 1996, an off-duty policeman named Frank was going to meet his wife, Carol, in a bookshop called Dillons when “suddenly, a small box van that looked like something out of the 1950s sped across his path, honking its horn as it narrowly missed him.” More disorienting still, Frank “saw that Dillons book store now had ‘Cripps’ over its entrance” and that there were stands of shoes and handbags in the window instead of new fiction. The only other person not wearing midcentury dress was a girl in a lime green sleeveless top. As Frank followed her into the old women’s wear boutique, “the interior of the building completely changed in a flash”; it was once again a bookshop.

I found a global community of believers building an archive of temporal dislocations from the present.

As with a spell of déjà vu, the experience was short-lived, and time was regained. According to the blogger’s detective-like report, Cripps “was later determined” to have been a business in the 1950s. In response to Frank’s slip, posters have told their own or related accounts they’ve heard from others: “This happened to my ex-boss, Glyn Jackson in London, England,” one begins. “Glyn’s story is Highly believable as Glyn is person who lacks imagination on such a scale that he could not put together a grade one story for English to save his life.” And on it goes.

I have never appreciated stories about the passage of time. I resent that I won’t ever get back the hours of my life that Richard Linklater stole with “Boyhood” — his two-and-three-quarter-hour film, shot over a 12-year period in which time is the force that overwhelms everything, not least the idea that our own actions drive our life stories. There’s a whole lot of unwelcome profundity there.

Time-slip anecdotes, though fashioned out of the ambient dread of living with the ticking clock, are childlike in their sense of wonder. They are light, playful and irrational, as frivolous and folky as a ghost story if it were narrated by the confused ghost instead of the people it haunts. One poster, as a girl, used to see a woman in a blue bathrobe in her room: “Her hair was long and messy, a reddish brown. I didn’t see her face because she was usually turned away. I used to mistake her for my mom.” Years later, grown up, the poster’s daughter slept in her former bedroom. “One day I realized ... I was wearing the same blue bathrobe,” the mother writes. Paranormal trappings aside, this story speaks to the feeling of whiplash brought on by time’s passing.

Slipping can be significant, as any Freudian will tell you, and these narratives are riddles whose answers might tell us about our relationship to time. I have begun considering the message boards on which they are exchanged to be narrow but important release valves, allowing posters to talk about the feelings that arise from being time-bound: depression, midlife crises, the dysmorphia of living in a human body. What ailed Miss Smith, whose car slid into a ditch after a cocktail party, and who witnessed “groups of Pictish warriors of the late seventh century, ca. 685 AD,” if not an understanding of her smallness in history’s vast expanse? Why did two academics, famous in the time-slip community for writing a book about spotting Marie Antoinette in the Versailles grounds, encounter trees that looked lifeless, “like wood worked in tapestry”? Perhaps in that instant, like the last queen of France’s Ancien Régime, they felt radically out of joint with their present moment.

If you suspend disbelief, you’ll find these threads constitute a philosophical inquiry about the place of the spirit in our physical beings. They debate the merits of subjectivity and objectivity and question the idea that time is a one-lane highway to death. These writers argue that our past and future can suffuse our present, unveiling an epic dimension of our quotidian existences in moments when we slip and, like Frank, feel eternity.

Lucie Elven is a writer whose first book of fiction, “The Weak Spot,” was published this year in the United States by Soft Skull Press and in Britain by Prototype.

Background photograph: George Marks/Getty Images

A beginner's guide to time travel

Learn exactly how Einstein's theory of relativity works, and discover how there's nothing in science that says time travel is impossible.

Actor Rod Taylor tests his time machine in a still from the film 'The Time Machine', directed by George Pal, 1960.

Everyone can travel in time . You do it whether you want to or not, at a steady rate of one second per second. You may think there's no similarity to traveling in one of the three spatial dimensions at, say, one foot per second. But according to Einstein 's theory of relativity , we live in a four-dimensional continuum — space-time — in which space and time are interchangeable.

Einstein found that the faster you move through space, the slower you move through time — you age more slowly, in other words. One of the key ideas in relativity is that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light — about 186,000 miles per second (300,000 kilometers per second), or one light-year per year). But you can get very close to it. If a spaceship were to fly at 99% of the speed of light, you'd see it travel a light-year of distance in just over a year of time. 

That's obvious enough, but now comes the weird part. For astronauts onboard that spaceship, the journey would take a mere seven weeks. It's a consequence of relativity called time dilation , and in effect, it means the astronauts have jumped about 10 months into the future. 

Traveling at high speed isn't the only way to produce time dilation. Einstein showed that gravitational fields produce a similar effect — even the relatively weak field here on the surface of Earth . We don't notice it, because we spend all our lives here, but more than 12,400 miles (20,000 kilometers) higher up gravity is measurably weaker— and time passes more quickly, by about 45 microseconds per day. That's more significant than you might think, because it's the altitude at which GPS satellites orbit Earth, and their clocks need to be precisely synchronized with ground-based ones for the system to work properly. 

The satellites have to compensate for time dilation effects due both to their higher altitude and their faster speed. So whenever you use the GPS feature on your smartphone or your car's satnav, there's a tiny element of time travel involved. You and the satellites are traveling into the future at very slightly different rates.

But for more dramatic effects, we need to look at much stronger gravitational fields, such as those around black holes , which can distort space-time so much that it folds back on itself. The result is a so-called wormhole, a concept that's familiar from sci-fi movies, but actually originates in Einstein's theory of relativity. In effect, a wormhole is a shortcut from one point in space-time to another. You enter one black hole, and emerge from another one somewhere else. Unfortunately, it's not as practical a means of transport as Hollywood makes it look. That's because the black hole's gravity would tear you to pieces as you approached it, but it really is possible in theory. And because we're talking about space-time, not just space, the wormhole's exit could be at an earlier time than its entrance; that means you would end up in the past rather than the future.

Trajectories in space-time that loop back into the past are given the technical name "closed timelike curves." If you search through serious academic journals, you'll find plenty of references to them — far more than you'll find to "time travel." But in effect, that's exactly what closed timelike curves are all about — time travel

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There's another way to produce a closed timelike curve that doesn't involve anything quite so exotic as a black hole or wormhole: You just need a simple rotating cylinder made of super-dense material. This so-called Tipler cylinder is the closest that real-world physics can get to an actual, genuine time machine. But it will likely never be built in the real world, so like a wormhole, it's more of an academic curiosity than a viable engineering design.

Yet as far-fetched as these things are in practical terms, there's no fundamental scientific reason — that we currently know of — that says they are impossible. That's a thought-provoking situation, because as the physicist Michio Kaku is fond of saying, "Everything not forbidden is compulsory" (borrowed from T.H. White's novel, "The Once And Future King"). He doesn't mean time travel has to happen everywhere all the time, but Kaku is suggesting that the universe is so vast it ought to happen somewhere at least occasionally. Maybe some super-advanced civilization in another galaxy knows how to build a working time machine, or perhaps closed timelike curves can even occur naturally under certain rare conditions.

This raises problems of a different kind — not in science or engineering, but in basic logic. If time travel is allowed by the laws of physics, then it's possible to envision a whole range of paradoxical scenarios . Some of these appear so illogical that it's difficult to imagine that they could ever occur. But if they can't, what's stopping them? 

Thoughts like these prompted Stephen Hawking , who was always skeptical about the idea of time travel into the past, to come up with his "chronology protection conjecture" — the notion that some as-yet-unknown law of physics prevents closed timelike curves from happening. But that conjecture is only an educated guess, and until it is supported by hard evidence, we can come to only one conclusion: Time travel is possible.

A party for time travelers 

Hawking was skeptical about the feasibility of time travel into the past, not because he had disproved it, but because he was bothered by the logical paradoxes it created. In his chronology protection conjecture, he surmised that physicists would eventually discover a flaw in the theory of closed timelike curves that made them impossible. 

In 2009, he came up with an amusing way to test this conjecture. Hawking held a champagne party (shown in his Discovery Channel program), but he only advertised it after it had happened. His reasoning was that, if time machines eventually become practical, someone in the future might read about the party and travel back to attend it. But no one did — Hawking sat through the whole evening on his own. This doesn't prove time travel is impossible, but it does suggest that it never becomes a commonplace occurrence here on Earth.

The arrow of time 

One of the distinctive things about time is that it has a direction — from past to future. A cup of hot coffee left at room temperature always cools down; it never heats up. Your cellphone loses battery charge when you use it; it never gains charge. These are examples of entropy , essentially a measure of the amount of "useless" as opposed to "useful" energy. The entropy of a closed system always increases, and it's the key factor determining the arrow of time.

It turns out that entropy is the only thing that makes a distinction between past and future. In other branches of physics, like relativity or quantum theory, time doesn't have a preferred direction. No one knows where time's arrow comes from. It may be that it only applies to large, complex systems, in which case subatomic particles may not experience the arrow of time.

Time travel paradox 

If it's possible to travel back into the past — even theoretically — it raises a number of brain-twisting paradoxes — such as the grandfather paradox — that even scientists and philosophers find extremely perplexing.

Killing Hitler

A time traveler might decide to go back and kill him in his infancy. If they succeeded, future history books wouldn't even mention Hitler — so what motivation would the time traveler have for going back in time and killing him?

Killing your grandfather

Instead of killing a young Hitler, you might, by accident, kill one of your own ancestors when they were very young. But then you would never be born, so you couldn't travel back in time to kill them, so you would be born after all, and so on … 

A closed loop

Suppose the plans for a time machine suddenly appear from thin air on your desk. You spend a few days building it, then use it to send the plans back to your earlier self. But where did those plans originate? Nowhere — they are just looping round and round in time.

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Andrew May

Andrew May holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Manchester University, U.K. For 30 years, he worked in the academic, government and private sectors, before becoming a science writer where he has written for Fortean Times, How It Works, All About Space, BBC Science Focus, among others. He has also written a selection of books including Cosmic Impact and Astrobiology: The Search for Life Elsewhere in the Universe, published by Icon Books.

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The 21 best books about time travel, from science fiction classics to time loop romances

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  • Time travel is a popular subgenre amongst science fiction readers .
  • Authors have used time travel to tell incredible stories, from romances to historic events.
  • These are 21 of the best time travel books, from ' Outlander ' to Octavia Butler's ' Kindred .'

Insider Today

Science fiction is a broad and exciting genre with plenty of fun subgenres for readers to explore, such as space operas where readers travel across galaxies or dystopian novels that provide a glimpse at terrifying possible futures. 

One popular science fiction subgenre is time travel, where characters cross time and space using parallel universes, advanced technology, or simply unexplainable magic. Time travel novels let readers imagine the limitless pasts and futures where anything is possible. 

To gather these recommendations, we looked at bestseller lists and popular recommendations from Amazon , Bookshop , and Goodreads . From epic romances to genre-bending classics, here are the best time travel books to take you on a reading adventure through time. 

The best time travel books to read in 2022:

An epic time travel love story.

story of travel through time

"Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.19

In this series that inspired a beloved TV show of the same name, Claire Randall and her husband are enjoying a second honeymoon after she returns from serving as a combat nurse in WWII. Their celebration is cut short, however, when Claire suddenly finds herself thrust back through time to 1743 Scotland. An outlander in this strange time, Claire meets a young warrior named James Fraser, whose love tears her heart between two times.

A modern time travel classic

story of travel through time

"The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.79

This contemporary time travel novel has quickly become a classic love story between Clare and Henry, who gravitate towards each other despite Henry's Chrono-Displacement Disorder, which causes him to be misplaced through time. Imaginative and original, " The Time Traveler's Wife " uses multiple points of view to tell an emotional story of love, friendship, and the effects of time on both.

A romantic time travel read

story of travel through time

"This Is How You Lose the Time War" by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.15

" This Is How You Lose the Time War " is a new, award-winning novel about rival agents Red and Blue who leave each other secret messages as they travel through time, altering history on behalf of their warring home empires. Though the messages begin as playful taunting, they soon become much more in this Queer, sci-fi romance .

A time travel novel from the king of horror

story of travel through time

"11/22/63" by Stephen King, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15

This nearly-1,000 page historical science fiction read is a gripping time travel thriller  — and one of the highest-reviewed Stephen King books . Jake Epping is a high school English teacher who discovers a secret portal to 1958 and is enlisted to go back in time and try to stop the Kennedy assassination, the effects of which can't be known until Jake either succeeds or fails.

A classic time travel tale

story of travel through time

"Kindred" by Octavia E. Butler, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.39

When Dana, a young, Black writer, is inexplicably thrust backward in time from 1976 to a pre-Civil War Maryland plantation, she's met with the drowning of a young white boy, whom she tries but fails to save. As she continues to drift between the past and present, Dana is accused of murdering the child, meets her ancestors, and is forced into slavery, all while trying to find her way back to the present.

A journey to the Medieval times

story of travel through time

"Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.27

Beginning in near-future London, time travel technology is used by universities to send historians back in time for research purposes. When Kivrin is sent to the past to experience a Medieval village, everything goes immediately wrong and Kivrin is stuck with no way to return home, a mysterious illness, and disaster coming her way in this page-turning novel that won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards in 1993.

An equally devastating and remarkable time travel novel

story of travel through time

"Recursion" by Blake Crouch, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.99

When a technology emerges that allows humans to return and re-experience their most precious and emotional memories, the effects begin to devastate the world as parallel worlds collide, unraveling society and threatening humanity in its entirety. " Recursion " is one of my all-time favorite novels, an undeniable page-turner that completely engrossed countless readers with Blake Crouch's masterful writing.

A non-linear time travel classic

story of travel through time

"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.35

" Slaughterhouse-Five " is an American classic and considered one of the greatest novels of all time . First published in 1969, this science fiction novel follows Billy Pilgrim from childhood through his time as a soldier during World War II,] and beyond as he travels back and forth through time and tells his story with messages about war, post-traumatic stress, life, and love.

A time travel love story

story of travel through time

"How to Stop Time" by Matt Haig, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.30

Tom Hazard has lived through many centuries but is ready to settle down as a high school history teacher and live a normal life. Because of his condition, he must not fall in love, but when the French teacher at school catches his eye, Tom flashes back through his many lives to help him figure out how to live in the present.

A time loop romance

story of travel through time

"One Last Stop" by Casey McQuiston, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.25

When cynical August moves to New York City, she doesn't believe in magical love stories, until she meets Jane on the Q train. As August continues to ride the Q train as often as she can to spend time with Jane, the two realize Jane is stuck there on a strange time loop, displaced from the 1970s and in desperate need of August's help to get her unstuck.

An original time travel novel featuring magical realism

story of travel through time

"Oona Out of Order" by Margarita Montimore, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $15.99

On New Year's Eve in 1982, Oona Lockhart is minutes away from turning 19 and has a life of opportunities ahead of her, until the clock strikes midnight and Oona wakes up on her 51st birthday. Destined to travel back and forth through time and live her life out of order, Oona must figure out how to navigate life, love, and everything in between.

A holiday-themed time travel read

story of travel through time

"In a Holidaze" by Christina Lauren, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.59

This holiday read is a rom-com fan-favorite about Maelyn Jones, who is on her way to the airport after a final family vacation at their beloved Utah cabin when she sees a truck hurtling towards their car. Just before the truck can hit them, Mae wakes up on the airplane headed to the cabin, stuck in a cycle of reliving the trip over and over until she can discover what makes her happy.

A devastating middle-grade time travel read

story of travel through time

"The Shape of Thunder" by Jasmine Warga, available at Amazon, $14.49

Cora and Quinn are next-door neighbors and best friends who haven't spoken to each other in a year since a tragedy changed both of their lives forever. When Quinn decides the only way to bridge the distance between them is by going back in time to stop that horrible day from ever happening, the two try to unravel the mysteries of time travel in this middle-grade novel about trauma, loss, and healing.

A time travel graphic novel about true events

story of travel through time

"Displacement" by Kiku Hughes, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.55

This incredible graphic novel is about Kiku Hughes, who is on vacation in San Francisco when she's abruptly transported back in time to witness the internment camp into which her grandmother was forcibly relocated during World War II. Unsure how or if she will be able to return to the present, Kiku learns her grandmother's true history and begins to see the long-term effects her experiences had on their family and countless other Japanese Americans.

A young adult time loop fantasy novel

story of travel through time

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $13.79

In this best-selling young adult fantasy book , Jacob Magellan Portman is taken to a remote island off the coast of Wales to deal with his trauma after a horrible family tragedy. Though the home is allegedly haunted by the inhabitants who died on September 3, 1940, Jacob discovers peculiar children stuck in a time loop, cared for by the equally peculiar Miss Peregrine.

A classic time travel story

story of travel through time

"A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $5.35

On a dark and stormy night, Meg Murry, along with her brother and her friend, set out on a dangerous but extraordinary adventure to rescue her father who mysteriously disappeared. With the help of supernatural friends, the group uses a tesseract to travel through space and time in this 1962 story of love, evil, and purpose.

A young adult novel about time travel and love

story of travel through time

"Opposite of Always" by Justin A. Reynolds, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $10.99

Jack and Kate are immediately drawn to each other when they meet at a party and begin to fall in love in the weeks that follow. When Kate tragically dies from a genetic disease, Jack finds himself back at the moment they met, determined to do anything to prevent her death, even if it means hurting others in the process.

A magical time travel manga

story of travel through time

"Tokyo Revengers" by Ken Wakui, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.99

Takemichi Hanagaki is stuck in his less-than-thrilling life when he learns his middle school girlfriend, Hinata, has been killed by a villainous gang. When an accident sends him 12 years back in time to middle school, Takemichi is determined to change his life and save Hinata in this time travel manga .

A time travel story of a father and son

story of travel through time

"How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe" by Charles Yu, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $11.69

Charles Yu lives in a science fiction reality, working as a time machine repairman and searching for his father, who invented time travel and has since disappeared. In this heartfelt read , Charles must navigate the universe with his companions to find a moment where he and his father can meet in memory.

A feminist time travel novel

story of travel through time

"The Future of Another Timeline" by Annalee Newitz, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $17.47

Told through alternating first-person narratives, this time travel story focuses on two main timelines as Beth finds herself in 1992 with a front-row seat to a murder while Tess is determined to use time travel to fight for a change in 2022. As the two stories intertwine across time, war threatens to destroy time travel in this smart, feminist read .

An irresistible time travel read

story of travel through time

"Here and Now and Then" by Mike Chen, available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $14.49

Kin Stewart may seem like an average man but has a secret: He's actually a time-traveling secret agent from the year 2142, stuck in the present ever since a mission failed 18 years ago. When his rescue team finally arrives, Kin is torn between his two families, trying to keep them both, until a risk to his daughter's existence stretches Kin's love across time to save her.

story of travel through time

  • Main content

A history of time travel: the how, the why and the when of turning back the clock

Pop on Aqua's 'Turn Back Time' and settle in

story of travel through time

For most of human history, the world didn’t change very quickly. Until the 1700s, kids could largely expect their lives to be similar to their parents, and that their children would have an experience very similar to their own, too. There were obviously changes in how humans lived over longer stretches of time, but nothing that even different generations could easily observe.

My first introduction to science fiction was Valérian and Laureline. I was ten years old. Every Wednesday there was a magazine called Pilote in France, and there was two pages of Valerian every week. It was the first time I’d seen a girl and a guy in space, agents travelling in time and space. That was amazing.

The past is written. The present? We have to deal with it. But the future is a white page. So I don’t understand why people on this white page are putting all this darkness.

God! Let’s have some color! Let’s have some fun! Let’s at least imagine a better world. Maybe we won’t be able to do it, but we have to try.

The industrial revolution changed all of this. For the first time in human history, the pace of technological change was visible within a human lifespan. 

It is not a coincidence that it was only after science and technological change became a normal part of the human experience, that time travel became something we dreamed of.

Time travel is actually somewhat unique in science fiction. Many core concepts have their origins earlier in history. 

The historical roots of the concept of a 'robot' can be seen in Jewish folklore for example: Golems were anthropomorphic beings sculpted from clay. In Greek mythology, characters would travel to other worlds, and it's no coincidence that The Matrix features a character called Persephone. But time travel is different.

The first real work to envisage travelling in time was The Time Machine by HG Wells, which was published in 1895. 

The book tells the story of a scientist who builds a machine that will take him to the year 802,701 - a world in which ape-like Morlocks are evolutionary descendants of humanity, and have regressed to a primitive lifestyle. 

The book was a product of its time - both in terms of the science played upon (Charles Darwin had only published Origin of the Species 35 years earlier), and the racist attitudes: it is speculated that the Morlocks were inspired by the Morlachs, a real ethnic group in the Balkans who were often characterised as “primitive”.

Real science

But of course, this was science fiction - what about science fact? The two have always been closely linked, and during the early days it was no different. In 1907, the physicist Hermann Minkowski first argued that Einstein’s Special Relativity could be expressed in geometric terms as a fourth dimension (to add to our known three) - which is exactly how Wells visualised time travel in his work of fiction.

The development of Special and then General Relativity was significant as it provided the theoretical backbone for how time travel could be conceived in scientific terms. In 1949 Kurt Gödel took Einstein’s work and came up with a solution which as a mathematical necessity included what he called “closed timelike curves” - the idea that if you travel far enough, time will loop back around (like how if you keep flying East, you’ll eventually end up back where you started).

In other words, using what became known as the Gödel Metric, it is theoretically possible to travel between any one point in time and space and any other. 

There was just one problem: for Gödel’s theory to be right, the universe would have to be spinning - and scientists don’t believe that it is. So while the maths might make sense, Gödel’s universe does not appear to be the one we’re actually living in. Though he never gave up hope that he might be right: Apparently even on this deathbed, he would ask if anyone has found evidence of a spinning universe. And if he does ever turn out to be right, it means that time travel can happen, and is actually fairly straightforward (well, as far as physics goes anyway).

Since Gödel, scientists have continued to hypothesise about time travel, with perhaps the best known example being tachyons - or particles that move faster than the speed of light (therefore, effectively travelling in time). So far, despite one false alarm at CERN in 2011, there is no evidence that they actually exist.

Chancers and hoaxes

Of course, the lack of real science when it comes to time travel has not stopped some people from claiming to have done it. With the likes of Marty McFly and Doctor Who on the brain, chancers and hoaxers have realised that time travel is immediately a compelling prospect. Here’s a couple of amusing examples.

At the turn of the millennium, when the internet was still in its infancy, forums were captivated by the story of John Titor. Titor claimed he was from the year 2036, and had been sent back in time by the government to obtain an IBM 5100 computer. The thinking appeared to be that by obtaining the computer, the government could find a solution to the UNIX 2038 bug - in which clocks could be reset, Millennium Bug-style, leading to chaos everywhere.

Posting on the 'Time Travel Institute' forums, Titor went into details on how his time machine worked:  It was powered by “two top-spin, dual positive singularities”, and used an X-ray venting system. He also gave a potted history of what humanity could expect: A new American civil war in 2004, and World War III in 2015. He also claimed the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum physics was true, hence why he wasn’t violating the so-called “grandfather paradox”.

Titor claimed he was from the year 2036, and had been sent back in time by the government to obtain an IBM 5100 computer.

Okay, so he probably wasn’t a real time traveller, but in the early days of the internet, when anonymity was more commonplace, he truly captured the imaginations of nerdy early adopters who perhaps, just a little bit, hoped that he might be the real thing.

More recently, in 2013, an Iranian scientist named Ali Razeghi claimed to have invented a time machine of sorts. It was supposedly capable of predicting the next 5-8 years for an individual, with up to 98% accuracy. According to The Telegraph , Razeghi said the invention fits into the size of a standard PC case and “It will not take you into the future, it will bring the future to you”. The idea is that the Iranian government could use it to predict future security threats and military confrontations. So perhaps it is time to check in and see if he managed to predict Donald Trump?

So is this the best we can do? Will we ever manage to crack time travel? Some scientists are still sceptical that it could ever be possible. This includes Stephen Hawking, who proposed the 'Chronology Protection Conjecture' – which is what it sounds like. Essentially, he argues that the laws of physics are as they are to specifically make time travel impossible – on all but “submicroscopic” scales. Essentially, this is to protect how causality works, as if we are suddenly allowed to travel back and kill our grandfathers, it would create massive time paradoxes.

Hawking revealed to Ars Technica in 2012 how he had held a party for time travellers, but only sent out invitations after the date it was held. So did the party support his argument that time travel is impossible? Or did he end up spending the evening in the company of John Titor and Doctor Who?

“I sat there a long time, but no one came”, he said, much to our disappointment.

Huge thanks to Stephen Jorgenson-Murray for walking us through some of the more brain-mangling science for this article.

To celebrate the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets , Luc Besson is today behind the lens at TechRadar. Here’s what we’ve got in store for you:

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is released in UK cinemas August 2nd, and is out now in the US.

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Time Travel Stories That Explore What It Means To Be Human

Holly smale recommends kate atkinson, octavia butler, and more.

The inspiration for Cassandra In Reverse came—as art sometimes does—from heartbreak, or something quite like it. A short but intense relationship that unravelled so quickly, and so unexpectedly, I was left reeling. What had gone wrong? Was it my fault? What could I have done differently?

Caught in a familiar, never-ending thought-loop, I spent months trapped inside my own head: obsessively re-running the entire relationship in enormous detail, looking for clues, searching for the point where it all went wrong. If I could just go back and tweak it—say the right thing, understand a facial expression I completely misinterpreted—would it have had a different ending? Would it, perhaps, not have ended at all?

As I worked through this familiar yet confusing process—carefully editing a memory and allowing my imagination to play out the consequences in detail—I slowly realized it was an idea for a book: a woman, gifted with the power of time travel, who initially uses it to try and fix her relationship. But, when I pitched it to my agent, she had a few understandable questions. Why would anyone become so hyper-fixated on a short-term relationship like that? Why obsess, and repeat, and re-run? Why not just… let go and move on?

The answer to that question came with my autism diagnosis, a few years later. As I grappled with understanding my own neurology properly for the first time, I realized that the way I thought and behaved was tied, inexorably, to the fact that I was autistic. The need to repeat, to loop, to hyper-fixate, to obsess, to examine, to study, to analyze: I did it because I was autistic. Thus, rather than being a time-travel book with an incidentally autistic protagonist, this was a protagonist who time travelled because she was autistic: because the very act of time travel was, on a macroscopic scale, a narrative version of what goes on in her brain anyway.

I think there’s a part of every human who wonders if editing a part of their life would make a difference to where they ended up. But, in using time travel to reflect my character’s internal workings, I was able to give Cassandra a way to show her distinct neurology, instead of just telling us.

So much of being autistic is in attempting—and often failing—to connect to the world around us, and time travel allows Cassie try, over and over again. It allows her to explore what it’s like to carry time with you—blessed, and cursed, with an intense long-term memory—and to see what life is like when you get a dress-rehearsal first. It allows her to search for love, just as I have searched, and to try to understand those around me, as I have also tried. And it allowed me, as the writer, to repeat, to loop, and to undo and redo, to my heart’s content.

My favorite books are those where character and plot become one and the same. And, while time travel has been done so many times, Cassandra in Reverse is, in many ways, simply autistic neurology writ large, which felt like a slightly new perspective worth bringing to the table.

The best time travel stories, for me, allow the writer to essentially explore what it means to be human, and the incredible books I have picked below do exactly that.

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

In this beautiful novel, Kate Atkinson uses a form of time-travel to investigate the fragility of being alive in a warm, luminous and witty way. Ursula is consistently dying and being re-born—with each life repeating until she uses her memories (and often instinct) to send it in slightly different directions and make alternative choices. One of the biggest issues of writing a time travel book is making sure that the repetition isn’t boring for the reader, and this book does that sublimely. Every sentence is so beautifully and clearly observed, and its companion book ( A God In Ruins ) plays with an off-shoot of the same basic idea: where would we all end up if we got another chance?

Octavia Butler, Kindred

Kindred by Octavia Butler

An incredibly powerful novel, Kindred centers on the lives and experiences of slaves through the eyes of Dana—a Black woman living in 1976—who finds herself repeatedly pulled through time to the slave plantation of one of her ancestors in 1815. Time travel is used with enormous poignancy to explore race, gender and power dynamics through the eyes of a woman with modern sensibilities: a woman who cannot escape the time she has been thrown into, or the inevitable pain and struggle that comes with it. Every character feels alive, every story is explored and compassion is woven into every line: even for the brutal white plantation owners, who also seem caught in a time they cannot escape from. An astonishing book, as well as a vibrant and fascinating narrative that pulls the reader backwards in time along with its heroine.

story of travel through time

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

No list about time travel would be complete without a nod to what is generally considered the first book to popularize the concept, as well as the first to coin the term ‘time-machine’. In his novella, H.G. Wells uses the eponymous Time Traveller—never given a name—to question the “fourth dimension,” and a human’s ability to travel through time as well as space. He uses time travel to move only forward, thus the book becomes a searing social dystopian examination of what human society—and the earth itself—will eventually become if it continues on the same path, and peers at the living standards of the working class through the lens of the underground Morlocks. Weird, dark, morbid but brilliant, this book opened up a brand new genre and still has enormous power.

story of travel through time

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger

The focus of The Time Traveler’s Wife is love, predominantly from the perspective of the person who doesn’t time-travel: who is, essentially, left behind with the consequences. The connection between Henry, a man with a genetic condition that causes him to time-travel, and Clare—the woman he falls in love with—feels so real, as does the heartbreak, but it is the impact of waiting that really stands out: a sense of longing for a person, or a time, that has been or yet to come.

story of travel through time

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

An incredibly entertaining and poignant novel, Oona is a unique character: one gifted—or cursed—with experiencing each year of her life in the wrong order: hopping forwards and backwards in time, and attempting to piece it together into one cohesive whole. It’s a novel that explores the impact our life choices have on us, externally and internally, and allows the characters to develop organically on the inside, even as her outside jumps around. It also has immense fun with technology, the use of ‘seeing the future’ to financially profit, and how foresight doesn’t necessarily prevent it all happening again, but this is a book that predominantly focuses on the importance of making mistakes, as well as embracing every age of being human.


story of travel through time

Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale is available from MIRA Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Is Time Travel Possible?

We all travel in time! We travel one year in time between birthdays, for example. And we are all traveling in time at approximately the same speed: 1 second per second.

We typically experience time at one second per second. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's space telescopes also give us a way to look back in time. Telescopes help us see stars and galaxies that are very far away . It takes a long time for the light from faraway galaxies to reach us. So, when we look into the sky with a telescope, we are seeing what those stars and galaxies looked like a very long time ago.

However, when we think of the phrase "time travel," we are usually thinking of traveling faster than 1 second per second. That kind of time travel sounds like something you'd only see in movies or science fiction books. Could it be real? Science says yes!

Image of galaxies, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows galaxies that are very far away as they existed a very long time ago. Credit: NASA, ESA and R. Thompson (Univ. Arizona)

How do we know that time travel is possible?

More than 100 years ago, a famous scientist named Albert Einstein came up with an idea about how time works. He called it relativity. This theory says that time and space are linked together. Einstein also said our universe has a speed limit: nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).

Einstein's theory of relativity says that space and time are linked together. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

What does this mean for time travel? Well, according to this theory, the faster you travel, the slower you experience time. Scientists have done some experiments to show that this is true.

For example, there was an experiment that used two clocks set to the exact same time. One clock stayed on Earth, while the other flew in an airplane (going in the same direction Earth rotates).

After the airplane flew around the world, scientists compared the two clocks. The clock on the fast-moving airplane was slightly behind the clock on the ground. So, the clock on the airplane was traveling slightly slower in time than 1 second per second.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Can we use time travel in everyday life?

We can't use a time machine to travel hundreds of years into the past or future. That kind of time travel only happens in books and movies. But the math of time travel does affect the things we use every day.

For example, we use GPS satellites to help us figure out how to get to new places. (Check out our video about how GPS satellites work .) NASA scientists also use a high-accuracy version of GPS to keep track of where satellites are in space. But did you know that GPS relies on time-travel calculations to help you get around town?

GPS satellites orbit around Earth very quickly at about 8,700 miles (14,000 kilometers) per hour. This slows down GPS satellite clocks by a small fraction of a second (similar to the airplane example above).

Illustration of GPS satellites orbiting around Earth

GPS satellites orbit around Earth at about 8,700 miles (14,000 kilometers) per hour. Credit:

However, the satellites are also orbiting Earth about 12,550 miles (20,200 km) above the surface. This actually speeds up GPS satellite clocks by a slighter larger fraction of a second.

Here's how: Einstein's theory also says that gravity curves space and time, causing the passage of time to slow down. High up where the satellites orbit, Earth's gravity is much weaker. This causes the clocks on GPS satellites to run faster than clocks on the ground.

The combined result is that the clocks on GPS satellites experience time at a rate slightly faster than 1 second per second. Luckily, scientists can use math to correct these differences in time.

Illustration of a hand holding a phone with a maps application active.

If scientists didn't correct the GPS clocks, there would be big problems. GPS satellites wouldn't be able to correctly calculate their position or yours. The errors would add up to a few miles each day, which is a big deal. GPS maps might think your home is nowhere near where it actually is!

In Summary:

Yes, time travel is indeed a real thing. But it's not quite what you've probably seen in the movies. Under certain conditions, it is possible to experience time passing at a different rate than 1 second per second. And there are important reasons why we need to understand this real-world form of time travel.

If you liked this, you may like:

Illustration of a game controller that links to the Space Place Games menu.


5 Unique Tips To Write A Time Travel Story

Writing time travel fiction.

How to write a time travel story

What about time travel keeps us coming back to it in our stories? Some of the earliest time travel stories we know are hundreds of years old. Despite all our technological advancements, we continue to write stories about it and a time travel story. One or more characters either deliberately or accidentally gained the ability to travel into the past or future. Within such a story, they may be able to travel at will, or there are limits on how and when they will travel.

There are three main types of time travel stories that you’ll see today. The first type is preserving the status quo. The second is changing the status quo. The third type is time travel tourism. Preserving the status quo means that the hero needs to ensure that a particular action either does or does not occur. The next one, changing the status quo, is where specific past or present actions must be changed to prevent an undesirable outcome.

First and foremost, time travel gives you the power of what if something had happened differently or hadn’t happened. You can attempt to answer these questions by telling a time travel story. It completely contradicts our world, where we can’t change the past or see the future. We can’t press a reset button and try again. I’m fully supportive of people who want to tell these time travel stories as long as it serves their message. So, stay with me if you want to learn more.

How to write a time travel story?

Time travel stories allow the heroes to fix everything in the present with little to no consequences. It leads to lazy stories resolved with a time machine where everything returns to normal. Every decision we make in the real world has lasting consequences and cannot be undone. Despite this, it’s still important to push for change and improvement.

We’re going to talk about writing stories about time travel. These can be tricky because there are so many things to consider, and all-time paradoxes will drive you nuts. But I want to give you 5 tips that’ll simplify the process and help you decide whether you want to write a story about time travel and how you should execute such a story. Let’s travel!

1. Ask yourself

If you are writing about time travel, you need to ask yourself the question Why? Why are you writing about time travel? Often you don’t necessarily need to incorporate time travel elements into your story instead of writing a story about someone going to the past. Maybe you want to write about historical fiction.

Maybe you want to write a story that’s set back there, and you don’t need anybody from the present day in that setting. Or if you’re writing about somebody going to the future, you’re better off writing a story about a future society or the apocalypse.

Often, writers don’t want to write about time travel so much as they want to write about different periods or different futures. So keep that in mind. If you ever are in the situation where you think you have a good idea for a time travel story, ask yourself:

  • Is the time travel necessary?
  • What are the characters going to learn from the story?
  • Why are they going back or forward in time?
  • What is the purpose of all this?

2. Make decisions and device matter

Timeline is one of my favorite time travel novels for various reasons. At the story’s beginning, a team of archaeologists describes a significant battle. Once the time travel story starts unfolding, the macro details of the battle remain largely unchanged. However, the characters were able to use their future knowledge to nudge the past ever so slightly to make the story worth reading. That’s how to write an incredible time travel story, even when the details were already written in stone.

Also, the time travel vehicle or device matters. One major discrepancy between the book (Timeline) and the movie is that the book gave intention to the date and location that was being traveled to in the past.

On the other hand, in the movie, the scientists accidentally open up a wormhole to a random point in history. Then they recruited archaeologists who happened to be studying the castle that was nearby where the wormhole opened. It made the time travel mechanic of the story largely an accident in which the archaeologists happened to arrive shortly before the pivotal battle they were researching.

If the characters can go to any time or place, there should be a reason why they end up at a specific point, even if it isn’t known to the characters at that time. ‘Doctor Who’ does a wonderful job with this, where the TARDIS, the mechanism that they travel through time and space, is sentient and sends the doctor into harm’s way on an episodic basis.

3. Set a goal and give lessons

Characters who make time jumps there they’re going to learn some lessons. Maybe they go to the past and learn to appreciate the future more. Or they go to the future and learn to change themselves before the world becomes a worse place. When you start writing a time travel story. So, set an individual goal to achieve and give some lessons or experience while the characters are on their mission.

Readers don’t like stories where characters know what will happen to them. There was a critically acclaimed space opera, which I never enjoyed for various reasons, but the primary one was that the character knew their future.

All sense of drama about the character surviving was removed when the tension was automatically diffused for every trial. In the early part of the Harry Potter series, I understand why the characters couldn’t use time travel as they might mistake it for the work of an evil wizard. That makes sense. However, once they learned about time travel, they should have used it to their advantage.

4. Establish time travel rules

Another essential thing to remember is to establish the rules of time travel in your story. Who is capable of time travel? How many people can use time travel? Is there a specific device you need, or is there a magic spell? What are the consequences of using time travel? What if they get stuck in time? Can they get stuck in time?

All those different questions need to be asked and answered by the writer before you get into the storytelling. If you don’t understand the rules of time travel in your story, your readers will see through it. They’re going to see it as a fake story they’re not going to get into. You want to sell the idea, and you need to stick to the rules if you do that.

If something happened to a time traveler in the past, then it would have already happened. So when they return to the present and go home and go to sleep, there shouldn’t be a shift in time around them after a given, unspecified, inconsistent amount of time has passed. The biggest thing I’ll say about time travel rules is that they need to remain consistent.

There are plenty of time travel stories that selectively apply. Whatever their self-contained rules are set, the plot can continue and then ignore them whenever it doesn’t affect the plot. Failing to think about the what fully or why of time travel or applying it unravels these stories.

5. Focus on the primary trope

How seriously do you want to take time travel in your story? It’s fine if you want to write a story about time travel and its fun and lighthearted trope. Also, it doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of how it works. For instance, the story Groundhog Day is about Bill Murray reliving the same day over and over again until he finally becomes a better person. They never explain how time travel works in that story or why it exists. But nobody complains about that because it’s a great story.

However, if you are writing a much more serious and scientific story, you will want to do your research and get your details correct because those types of audiences will be much more critical of you. It’ll take them right out of the story if you get anything wrong.

Types Of Time Travel Stories (Tropes/Prompts)

Once you establish your story rules, you must decide what type of time travel story you will write. There are hundreds of time travel tropes, but none are more important than the message of your story. It’s important to consider setting limits on time travel or what it costs the hero. What could potentially stop you from being able to time travel? Maintain these limits throughout your stories.

Finding the balance between complete freedom and structure in your story is a good idea. Your story may be better served with a degree of logic added. So, it’s essential to consider the sociological implications of time travel in your world and how they affect your characters and the world you’ve built. Here are 4 types of time travel stories/tropes you can use in your story.

  • Travel to the past.
  • Travel to the future.
  • Present is invaded.
  • Time travel gimmicks.

Travel to past

The most common one is the story where someone from the present goes back in time to the past. If you are writing this type of story, you’re writing a historical fiction story with a sci-fi twist because you include that time travel.

To write a great historical fiction story, you must research the period you’re writing about. You need to be very knowledgeable about it. What was the technology and the world in general? What kind of expectations did they have for the future? What were the social customs? If you are writing a story about the past, you should find a way to get your readers invested in that time period. One of the best ways to do it is to get the details right and get a good feel for this story world.

Try to present life as it was so your readers could truly appreciate it. One major thing to be aware of when writing stories about characters who go to the past is the butterfly effect. If you have a time traveler who goes to the past, every change they make to this world will have consequences for the future.

If you do have people going into the past, remember that if they kill someone or prevent someone from being killed, that will have consequences in the future. So keep that in mind.

Travel to future

The next type of time travel story is one where characters go from the present into the future, and they may go into the future for various reasons. Maybe they go from the inferno of it because they invented the time machine that can take them into the future. Or, they might have to go to the future to stop some future evil from occurring.

Typically, those stories can get a little foolish because you have to ask yourself some questions. If they must go into the future to stop evil from happening, why don’t they take precautions now? Or why don’t they wait for the future to come to them?

So if you are looking at this type of story, ask yourself: Is it necessary for future time travel to happen? Aside from time travel stories, your main characters go into the past or future.

Present is invaded

Your characters stay in the present, and another character, usually a villain, comes to the present, either from the future or the past, and starts causing problems. The best example of this is Terminator one, an eighties movie that takes place during the eighties. But the main conflict arises because a machine comes from the future to kill Sarah Connor in the present. There isn’t much worldbuilding early on, and we can instantly empathize with Sarah Connor. It’s another technique you can keep in your arsenal.

If you are thinking about time travel stories, be aware that you do have to do the proper worldbuilding for the future or the past, even if you’re bringing one or two characters into that present.

Time travel gimmick

The fourth and final type of time travel story is one where there is a time travel gimmick involved. For instance, in the movie Groundhog Day, the gimmick is that Bill Murray’s character repeats the same day repeatedly until he becomes a better person.

Another example would be the video game, The Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask. It is about a fantasy world about to be destroyed in three days when the moon crashes into Earth. However, the main character can play the ocarina to go back in time three days and repeat the process until he can finally solve the problem.

We can tell stories based on a world that exists in a hypothetical parallel universe to our own, one that could technically exist. It adds a degree of commitment missing from most time travel stories. Every decision your characters make last within the world that they’re in. Even if they leave that world, the decisions are still there. Also, some people need to live with the consequences of those actions.

When writing a story, sharing your work with a group of people you trust for feedback is essential. It can be beneficial for others to read your work because they can give you ideas for improvement that you had never even considered. So, I encourage you to create a group of people you trust where you can share your stories and ultimately be creative.

What is your all-time favorite time travel story? Let me know in the comments section below.

Learn more from books:

17 Time Travel Romance Books

10 Post Apocalyptic Romance

10 Medieval Romance Novels

15 Historical Romance Books

More writing tips:

10 Tips To Write Male Characters

10 Tips To Write A Woman Character

10 Tips For Naming Characters In A Book

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How to Write a Time Travel Story Without Paradoxes


The concept of time travel has long been a popular theme in fiction and film. Traveling back in time to alter the course of history is an alluring idea that has enthralled not just fiction writers but scientists as well. Yet, if you've ever seen or read a time travel story, you're aware that time travel is a tricky concept to grasp. It might be challenging to stay faithful to your worldbuilding concepts while simultaneously incorporating suitable temporal paradoxes.

For this reason, we will explore different paradoxes and go through various tips to help you write a time travel story without the risk of paradoxes.

Where does the idea of time travel come from?

Traveling across time is a shared universal dream. But where did the fascination with time travel begin, and why does the concept appeal to so many people? The lure of time travel has deeper origins. Appearing in some of our oldest stories , it is woven into the very fabric of our language and imagines a world without constraints of time and space. Its roots may be traced back to ancient tales of time travel found in numerous civilizations throughout the world, giving the notion its distinct characteristics derived from different cultures.

We come across time travel stories in ancient cultures throughout the world , although we cannot claim to know where the concept originally came from and who pioneered it. However, we can observe that the genre rose to prominence in the nineteenth century. From this time period comes Charles Dickens' classic novella A Christmas Carol , in which Ebenezer Scrooge travels both ahead and backwards in time. Around the same period, H.G. Wells popularized time travel in literature with his timeless novel The Time Machine , which featured the concept of a "time machine," which featured a vehicle that could travel purposefully and selectively in time. Inspired by this emblematic icon, many beloved time-travel stories published after this have incorporated some form of the time machine. Such is the famous TARDIS in the long-running BBC classic series Doctor Who , a blue box that can transcend time and space. Doctor who interestingly explores time travel paradoxes, with time paradoxes taking a center stage for many of its episodes.

Time travel paradoxes

There are many logical contradictions when it comes to time travel. Here are some of the major paradoxes:

Bootstrap paradox

The Bootstrap Paradox is a theoretical paradox of time travel that arises when an object transported back in time becomes locked within an unending cause-effect loop. This occurs as the travel in time takes place as a response to a specific event.

Consistency paradox

Consistency Paradoxes , such as the Grandfather Paradox , or the Hitler paradox , a type of timeline mismatch that arises from the prospect of changing the past. These paradoxes change history in such a way that time travel into the past, which caused such action in the first place, is no longer possible. To simply illustrate the paradox, in the film The Time Machine , a protagonist builds a time machine to travel back in time in order to save his fiancé from death. Her rescue, on the other hand, would lead to a future in which the machine never existed since her death was the direct motivation for its creation. But then, how is it you can go back and save your fiancé if her death hasn't given you the push to create the time machine? It results in a paradox. The timeline is no longer self-consistent.

Butterfly effect

The Butterfly Effect is based on Chaos Theory , which states that seemingly minor changes may have massive cascade responses over extended periods of time and that even minor changes can fundamentally reshape history. The name "Butterfly Effect" originates from Ray Bradbury's short tale " A Sound of Thunder ," in which a character in prehistoric times walks on a butterfly, causing massive changes in the future.

How to avoid these paradoxes

The self-healing hypothesis.

Writers seeking to escape the paradoxes of time travel have devised a variety of inventive methods for presenting a more consistent picture of reality. The self-healing hypothesis is one of the most basic solutions to any time travel paradox, implying that no matter what is changed in the timeline, the principles of quantum physics will self-correct to prevent a contradiction from arising and sustain the existing flow .

Because events would adapt themselves, a paradox would not occur. So, changing the past will trigger another alternative chain reaction that will keep the present unaltered. This effectively states that the likelihood of a paradox arising in any given circumstance is zero. The self-healing hypothesis simply indicates that no matter what a traveler has done in the past, the end outcome is the same in terms of global conditions. This does not rule out the possibility of changing the past, but it does eliminate the prospect of minor changes having the power to generate massive ones. Most crucially, as an author, you are not obligated to describe the particular events that repair time. It is enough to affirm that they take place and ensure that your event sequences and their conclusion are consistent.

Time traveling monitor

Another way to avoid temporal paradox would be creating the time traveling monitor that would follow the timeline protection hypothesis , which posits that any attempt to create a paradox would fail to owe to a probability distortion. The monitor would adjust the probability in order to avert any damaging events occurring, which would also give you free rein to come up with creative scenarios. Nonetheless, to prevent an impossible event from taking place, the universe must favor an improbable event occurring.

Balancing the timeline

The paradoxes themselves are intertwined and they can as well occur simultaneously. No one knows if a real-life paradox would result in a large-scale timeline alteration, or if the closed-loop is kind of automatically self-correcting since everything works out equally in the end. Going back to the Consistency Paradox, yet another approach to avoid it is to acknowledge, regretfully, that you can't and shouldn't attempt to change the past. That is unless you can rule out any chance of a bad domino effect as a result of your activities. In this manner, you can attempt to alter the past while keeping the chronology intact. This means following up the time-change event with another change that balances out the activities and ensures that the outcome remains the same despite the intervention.

The notion of a time loop is one of the most prevalent strategies to get away with time travel in science fiction. You may travel through time here, but any changes you make are predetermined. For example, suppose you were pushed out of the way of a car one day. You return to your timeline from the future and realize that that person was in reality you.

Paradoxes are avoided with this method of time travel, but everything is predetermined. If you wish to prevent a tragic incident from occurring in your past, there's nothing you can do since even if you could, it would still happen in the time loop. Whatever you did, the key events would just re-calibrate around you. This could be the solution for the Grandfather Paradox — that would mean that the event propelling you back in time would happen regardless of your actions, providing your younger self with the incentive to go back and stop it. To put it another way, a time traveler could make adjustments, but the original conclusion would still occur — perhaps not exactly as it did in the initial timeline, but near enough.

Parallel universe

There is also another possibility: creating a parallel universe . The future or past you visit might become a parallel reality. Consider it as a huge fortress where you may construct or demolish as many castles as you like, but it has no bearing on your primal stronghold. When you travel back in time, the future is gone, it never happened, and the universe will evolve anew, even if you do nothing to influence it. It does not affect the future you experienced, but it does affect the future of the reset world. That can entail creating a scenario in which the protagonists travel to the past and discover themselves in a parallel world or multiverse, with no change to their original chronology.

Countless science fiction stories have examined the conundrum of what would happen if you could travel back in time and do something that would jeopardize the future. Please note that you are free to make your own rules for it. This is your work of fiction. The universe will be as you will design it in your story. If the paradoxes do not exist in your story, then you may make up your own rules around it. You can as well bypass the rules your worldbuilding has established if you have a valid cause for doing so and if this is what your writing demands.

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These were the most on-time airlines last year

The 2023 rankings are in from the airline schedule data firm oag.

If you flew Delta Air Lines last year, there’s a good chance your flight was on time. The carrier was the most punctual in the United States, according to new rankings from airline schedule data firm OAG. By this measure, 83.2 percent of Delta’s 1.6 million global flights arrived without a hitch.

And the airport with the most punctual flights? Few will be surprised that it was Minneapolis-St. Paul, a large Delta hub, where about 82.6 percent of flights left on schedule, despite its snow-packed location.

An on-time flight is defined as one that arrives within 15 minutes of its scheduled arrival. Airlines supplied OAG with the data for its rankings, which include only carriers that provide information on at least 80 percent of their flights.

The on-time performance came during a challenging year for airlines. It kicked off with the outage of a key Federal Aviation Administration notification system in January that prompted the first nationwide halt in air traffic since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A national air traffic controller shortage forced airlines to prune schedules. And severe weather disrupted flights in New York and elsewhere over the summer.

What airlines did right in 2023

“Strong on-time performance results from Delta, American, United, and others point to a collective effort by the industry to overcome challenges,” OAG’s chief analyst, John Grant, said in a news release. He cited the operational issues airlines faced, as well as industry-wide maintenance and supply chain challenges.

After Delta, Alaska Airlines was the second most punctual among domestic carriers — and seventh worldwide — with 81 percent of flights arriving on time, OAG’s data shows. American Airlines flights were 79 percent on time, United Airlines nearly 79 percent and Southwest nearly 76 percent. Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways rounded out the list of U.S. airlines in OAG’s rankings, with 69.5 percent and 68.3 percent of flights, respectively, arriving on schedule.

Most U.S. airlines were more punctual last year than in 2022. Delta, Alaska and American improved by roughly two percentage points, while United performed about the same. Even laggard JetBlue improved by about four points.

Delta executives throughout the year praised the airline’s staff for its reliable operation. “Our people consistently deliver operational excellence with the relentless focus on raising the bar at every stage of the travel journey,” CEO Ed Bastian said earlier this month. The secret to on-time flights, however, runs deeper.

“The way you keep an airline on time is you schedule flights for a realistic amount of time, and have enough time on the ground between flights ,” said Atmosphere Research Group travel analyst Henry Harteveldt. Delta, he continued, does both, scheduling flights for an appropriate duration, then providing enough time on the ground for staff to fully prepare planes for the next flight.

It helps that Delta’s busiest airports are Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul, none of which faces the same level of congestion in the air or on the tarmac that plagues many airports in the northeast and Florida.

What hurt airline reliability last year

Most flight delays in 2023 were airlines’ fault, according to the Transportation Department — due to aircraft maintenance or a late crew, for example.

When a delay is the airline’s fault, it is responsible for accommodating travelers on another flight and, in some cases, offering meal or hotel vouchers, or even a refund. The DOT has a dashboard of travelers’ rights when airlines are responsible for the delay or cancellation.

But the shortage of air traffic controllers , coupled with severe weather last summer, played a significant role in punctuality in 2023.

In March, the FAA said national air traffic controller staffing was at 81 percent of target levels and, in the center that manages flights in and around New York City, at only 54 percent. As a result, it allowed airlines to cut flights by 10 percent at New York’s three main airports — John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty — over the summer to minimize disruptions. Still, JetBlue faced 68 days of “significant operational disruption” in New York during the three months ending in September, airline President Joanna Geraghty said in an earnings call.

“Far worse September weather” and “unprecedented [air traffic control] restrictions” caused the disruptions, Geraghty said. Add to that the fact that a greater percentage of JetBlue’s flights than any other airline is in congested New York airspace, and the delays multiplied.

“If you are always driving on a congested highway, you are more prone to adverse conditions that might affect performance,” said Ahmed Abdelghany, associate dean in the David B. O’Maley College of Business at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. This means airlines flying in congested areas — like JetBlue in the northeast — are more susceptible to flight delays and cancellations.

Airports are all about capacity

Airport on-time rankings are largely outside of their direct control. Ones with plenty of capacity — runways, gates and other facilities to accommodate their full allotment of scheduled flights — are less likely to see delays than congested airports that operate near or at capacity, Abdelghany said.

Lack of congestion in the skies above is also important. For example, in New York, the FAA has very specific — and separate — routes for flights into and out of JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. If a direction is blocked by storms, one airport can see flight delays and cancellations spike while another continues to operate smoothly.

Then there is the simple fact that if an airport’s main airline is reliable, that airport probably is, too. The three airports with the most on-time departures in the United States last year — Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle-Tacoma and Atlanta — are all Delta hubs. Charlotte and Reagan National Airport rounded out the Top 5.

Edward Russell is an aviation and transport reporter based in D.C. Follow him on X: @ByERussell .

A previous version of this article gave an incorrect number of 2023 flights for Delta. Delta had 1.6 million flights, not 1.3 million. The article has been corrected.

More travel news

How we travel now: More people are taking booze-free trips — and airlines and hotels are taking note. Some couples are ditching the traditional honeymoon for a “buddymoon” with their pals. Interested? Here are the best tools for making a group trip work.

Bad behavior: Entitled tourists are running amok, defacing the Colosseum , getting rowdy in Bali and messing with wild animals in national parks. Some destinations are fighting back with public awareness campaigns — or just by telling out-of-control visitors to stay away .

Safety concerns: A door blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 jet, leaving passengers traumatized — but without serious injuries. The ordeal led to widespread flight cancellations after the jet was grounded, and some travelers have taken steps to avoid the plane in the future. The incident has also sparked a fresh discussion about whether it’s safe to fly with a baby on your lap .

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Watch CBS News

Maryland Weather: Dry streak continues into next week

By Derek Beasley, Meg McNamara

Updated on: February 1, 2024 / 6:33 AM EST / CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE - It's a frigid start to what will be a fabulous first day of February! You may want to give yourself a few extra minutes to defrost and warm up your car this morning because we're waking up to temperatures in the upper 20s and low 30s. We do make some good progress through the today. Mostly sunny skies will bring us highs in the 50s this afternoon.

FRIGID START TO FEBRUARY: Give yourself some extra time to defrost and warm up your car this morning because we're waking up to temperatures in the upper 20s and low 30s. Plentiful sunshine will leave us with afternoon highs in the mid 50s. #WJZ #MDWX #FirstAlert #Baltimore — Meg McNamara (@MegWJZ) February 1, 2024

A cold front will swing through tonight into Friday morning, bringing us more clouds and a slight chance for showers. The potential wet weather won't be around long enough to have any significant impacts on the day though. Temperatures on Friday will start in the upper 30s and low 40s and then top out just shy of 50°.

The weekend looks gorgeous! We'll have plenty of sunshine with highs in the upper 40s and low 50s. Overnight temperatures will drop into the 30s.

The next storm system will pass south of the area early next week. Aside from an increase in northeast winds, we likely will avoid any direct impacts. 

Aside from that, most of next week looks nice with highs in the 40s and 50s and lows in the 20s and 30s. As it stands now, our next chance for any rain won't arrive until next weekend. 

  • Winter Storm
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Derek Beasley joined the WJZ First Alert Weather Team in March 2022. He was promoted in March 2023 to become WJZ's first-ever Chief Meteorologist.

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story of travel through time

  • Rail passenger experience

The Great British Rail Sale returns: discounts on over a million rail tickets

Discounted rail ticket prices will apply to journeys between 30 January and 15 March 2024 across England and Wales.

story of travel through time

  • the week-long sale starts on 23 January 2024, slashing rail ticket prices on many routes over 6 weeks
  • comes as government seeks to reform the railways and bring more passengers back to the rail network
  • offers on journeys on thousands of popular routes across England and Wales

Passengers will have from 23 to 29 January 2024 to claim up to 50% off selected advance and off-peak rail tickets, through the Great British Rail Sale.

Over a million discounted tickets will be available to destinations across England and Wales, as well as on cross-border trips into Scotland, for journeys taking place between 30 January and 15 March 2024.

Whether it’s a city break, family holiday or countryside escape, passengers are encouraged to make the most of this sale to get to popular destinations across the country.

Popular journeys passengers could claim savings* on tickets for include:

The government is committed to helping families with the cost of living, and working with industry to offer up to half-price rail tickets will not only boost tourism and encourage sustainable travel but also help connect friends and families across the UK.

This follows a  significant intervention to cap this year’s rail fare increase at 4.9% , considerably below the 9% July’s retail price index (RPI) figure on which they are historically based.

This comes as the government delivered its commitment to halve inflation by the end of last year – helping to keep travel costs lower in the long term.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said:

The return of the Great British Rail Sale is good news for passengers, following the success of the previous sale which saw passengers benefit from around £7 million in savings on their travel costs. With discounts on more than a million tickets, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to connect with friends and family and explore great destinations across the country – I hope passengers make the most of this sale and choose to travel by rail.

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

Train travel is the greenest way to explore our towns and cities as well as connect with your family and friends because nothing beats being there in person for those special moments. Following the success of the Great British Rail Sale in 2022, we are really excited that it’s coming back, and customers will be able to once again purchase over a million advance ticket fares starting on 23 January 2024 and enjoy what rail has to offer.

The Great British Railways Transition Team ( GBRTT ) estimate that the first Great British Rail Sale in 2022 saw passengers save around £7 million on rail tickets and encouraged around 70,000 adults who had not travelled by train since the COVID-19 pandemic to take a trip.**

The government and industry are, therefore, launching a second Great British Rail Sale to save passengers money and get more people using our railways.

The Great British Rail Sale is just one way the government is seeking to improve rail passengers’ experience, with London North Eastern Railway ( LNER ) launching a pilot scheme for simpler fares earlier this week, removing the complex web of ticket types and replacing them with options that are simpler, more flexible and better suit passengers’ needs.

Suzanne Donnelly, Passenger Revenue Director at GBRTT , said:

I’m delighted the rail industry has, once again, come together to deliver another huge round of savings on tickets for passengers. At GBRTT , we are focused on driving initiatives that will boost the number of rail journeys people make to reduce the cost of running the railway for taxpayers, whilst providing value for money for customers. The Great British Rail Sale is just one example of what can be achieved through a one railway, joined-up approach.

Sale tickets will start to become available from midnight on 23 January 2024. The Rail Delivery Group will host a central webpage, helping customers find the best deals. Tickets can also be found on all ticket retailer websites for journeys taking place between 30 January and 15 March 2024. Only a limited number of tickets are available, and no further sale tickets will go on offer once sold out.***

Operators are not offering sale tickets on days when their services might be impacted by the strikes announced by ASLEF on 15 and 18 January 2024.

* The savings quoted are against a typical advance purchase ticket, as these tickets vary in price the exact savings may be more or less compared to what a passenger usually purchases.

** Estimate is based on survey data from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and scaled using YouGov data.

*** Travel periods may differ across operators, with few or no tickets available on days impacted by industrial action. More tickets will be made available on days unaffected by industrial action.

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How many Brightline deaths have there been on the Treasure Coast? Where have they occurred?

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There have been two Brightline fatalities on the Treasure Coast since the passenger railroad began service between Miami to Orlando last year.

The latest was Monday night, when a 29-year-old Wesley Alan Ducheneaux Walsh was struck and killed by a northbound Brightline train in Indian River County, the Sheriff's Office said. He was the second fatality in less than six months since the railroad began full operations Sept. 22.

The first was Sept. 28, 2023, when a 25-year-old man was killed north of Midway Road in St. Lucie County. The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said he was homeless and "may potentially have committed suicide."

TCPalm has compiled a database of all Brightline incidents since Sept. 22, when the railroad began running trains between Orlando International Airport and downtown Miami.

Train crash database: See Brightline incidents on the Treasure Coast

Where have Brightline deaths occurred on the Treasure Coast?

The two Brightline fatal accidents occurred in St. Lucie and Indian River counties, respectively.

How fast do Brightline trains travel through the Treasure Coast?

Brightline trains travel up to 82 mph throughout the Treasure Coast, a TCPalm investigation found . This is slower than what Brightline has indicated in the past.

Brightline has said top speeds through the region would be 110 mph but 70 mph-80 mph through its downtowns.

TCPalm conducted its own speed checks of Brightline trains, using a radar gun, over several days in October. Here are the findings:

  • 23-31 mph:  53rd Street in Gifford
  • 32 mph:  Confusion Corner in Stuart
  • 34 mph:  Stuart railroad bridge and Walton Road in Port St. Lucie
  • 35 mph:  Walton Road in Port St. Lucie
  • 38 mph:  Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce
  • 40 mph:  Sebastian Center
  • 42-48 mph:  Main Street in Sebastian
  • 44 mph:  Langford Park in Jensen Beach
  • 45 mph:  Oslo Road in Vero Beach
  • 51 mph:  Schumman Drive in Sebastian and County Road 707 in Rio
  • 53 mph:  American Icon Brewery in Vero Beach
  • 58 mph:  77th Street in Wabasso
  • 63 mph:  St. Sebastian River railroad bridge in Roseland
  • 64 mph:  Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound
  • 68 mph:  St. Lucie Village in Fort Pierce
  • 69 mph:  Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce
  • 70 mph:  Midway Road in Fort Pierce and roundabout in downtown Jensen Beach
  • 78 mph:  87th Street in Wabasso
  • 79 mph:  20th Street in Vero Beach
  • 82 mph:  Monterey Road in Stuart

How many Brightline trains a day pass through the Treasure Coast?

Brightline has service between Miami and Orlando, 235 miles, with 32 trains daily through Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.

When a Brightline station is built on the Treasure Coast — slated for completion in 2028 — there will be at least two northbound and southbound trains stopping at the station daily, according to a 2018 legal settlement.

Five proposals have been submitted to Brightline for a station in either St. Lucie or Martin county. Brightline's choice is to be announced by March.

TCPalm staff Corey Arwood, Laurie K. Blandford, Katie Delk, Ed Killer, Lindsey Leake and Cheryl Smith contributed to this report.

Gianna Montesano  is TCPalm’s trending reporter. You can contact her at  [email protected] , 772-409-1429, or follow her on X (formerly Twitter)  @gonthescene .

2024's total solar eclipse will pass through over a dozen states. Here's where to see it.

story of travel through time

You may not have to travel too far to get a glimpse of the total solar eclipse this spring. 

More than a dozen U.S. states from Texas to Maine are in the path of totality for the April 8 phenomenon, when the moon entirely blocks the face of the sun as it passes between the sun and Earth, according to NASA.

The total eclipse will start over the South Pacific Ocean, hitting the coast of Mexico shortly after 11 a.m. PDT and exiting continental North America over Newfoundland in Canada at 5:16 p.m. NDT. The path will also stretch through:

  • Pennsylvania.
  • New Hampshire.

Parts of Tennessee and Michigan will also be able to see the total eclipse.

Learn more: Best travel insurance

“The sky will darken, as if it were dawn or dusk,” NASA said on its website . “Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by the bright face of the sun.” Totality lasts as long as around four-and-a-half minutes depending on where the viewer is.

You can check your proximity to the path on NASA’s map here . The next total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous U.S. will not take place until 2044.

Totality is also the only time during a solar eclipse when it is safe to watch directly with your eyes. During the partial phases, viewers need to wear protective eyewear – regular sunglasses won’t cut it – or use a safe solar viewer.

“Viewing any part of the bright sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury,” NASA’s website reads.

If you can’t travel, though, don’t despair. Even outside the path of totality, however, viewers in the contiguous U.S. – and beyond – will be able to see a partial eclipse.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at [email protected].


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    Angelus Silesius, a sixth-century philosopher and poet, thought the flow of time could be suspended by mental powers: Time is of your own making; its clock ticks in your head. The moment you stop ...

  17. Time Travel Stories That Explore What It Means To Be Human

    Kindred by Octavia Butler. An incredibly powerful novel, Kindred centers on the lives and experiences of slaves through the eyes of Dana—a Black woman living in 1976—who finds herself repeatedly pulled through time to the slave plantation of one of her ancestors in 1815. Time travel is used with enormous poignancy to explore race, gender ...

  18. Journeys Through Time

    Albert Cionyata · Follow 11 min read · Apr 17, 2023 -- Early balance spring watch by Thomas Tompion Let's go on a journey through time. T he idea of time travel has been a popular subject...

  19. 43 Terrific Time Travel Prompts »

    43 Terrific Time Travel Prompts. Oh yeah…. you have just discovered some terrific time travel writing prompts for you and your writers (of all ages). This brand new list of prompts will help writers spin tales about traveling through time in their fiction stories — or journal writing — just for fun. There are time travel prompts here for ...

  20. Is Time Travel Possible?

    More than 100 years ago, a famous scientist named Albert Einstein came up with an idea about how time works. He called it relativity. This theory says that time and space are linked together. Einstein also said our universe has a speed limit: nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).

  21. 5 Unique Tips To Write A Time Travel Story

    Time travel stories allow the heroes to fix everything in the present with little to no consequences. It leads to lazy stories resolved with a time machine where everything returns to normal. Every decision we make in the real world has lasting consequences and cannot be undone. Despite this, it's still important to push for change and improvement.

  22. History for kids

    History for kids - Travel through Time - Compilation Smile and Learn - English 916K subscribers Subscribe Subscribed 989 Share 202K views 6 years ago All the collection of Travel through...

  23. How to Write a Time Travel Story Without Paradoxes

    The concept of time travel has long been a popular theme in fiction and film. Traveling back in time to alter the course of history is an alluring idea that has enthralled not just fiction writers but scientists as well. Yet, if you've ever seen or read a time travel story, you're aware that time travel is a tricky concept to grasp. It might be challenging to stay faithful to your ...

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  25. These airlines were the most on-time in 2023

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  26. Maryland Weather: Dry streak continues into next week

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  29. Where can I see the total solar eclipse? Head to these US states

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