Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's do the time warp again!

I'm a sucker for time travel stories. Generally, I gravitate more toward realistic fiction than toward science fiction and fantasy, and that's been true since childhood. But for just as long, I've been fascinated by stories that put any sort of quirk in the space-time continuum, whether the characters are Locked in Time, reliving Groundhog Day, or just trying to get Back to the Future.

For me, the human stories trump the flux capacitors. Time travelers are classic fish out of water, and they're also magnets for deep, dark secrets about their own families. Even better, since the traveler's point of origin or destination is usually somewhere around the book or film's release date, a time travel story is a great way to look at ourselves through unconditioned eyes; we can be amazed at our horseless carriages or proud of ourselves for living without jet packs.

Other time-based premises also give us a chance to think differently about ourselves. What would we do if we experienced the same day over and over? What if we were--ugh--trapped at age 13 forever?

And how many of you wish you could go back to the moment before I got "The Time Warp" stuck in your heads?


  1. Have you read Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking series? Not really time travel, although time and travel are both involved. I just finished the first one, and it is wicked good.

  2. Nope. I'll have to check it out!

  3. Another vote for Patrick Ness's books - so good! I assume you've read When You Reach Me? Also, Before I Fall had a great Groundhog Day premise (and it was really well-written). I guess I enjoy a good time travel story too!

  4. See, now I read a lot of SciFi, and I've never read a story that was actually about the flux capacitor or whatever other techno babble is involved. It's always about the people, and looking at ourselves not just from different times but from different (potentially alien) perspectives. Even the aliens are just one big metaphor for humanity.

  5. Anna, yes! When You Reach Me is a tough one to hand-sell on the basis of the coolest things about it because mentioning time travel is a spoiler, but it's such a worthwhile surprise. And I want to read Before I Fall, but I may need to chase it with something super-light. (Groundhog Day?)

    nicole, good point. I find myself noticing a lot lately that particular stories could easily be transplanted into other settings or genres; the characters, plots, and themes are what carry them. It's all about finding the way into a story that works for you, methinks.