Friday, 28 March 2014

Three Other Time Travel Novels

There are at least three time travel novels by other authors that should be read alongside Poul Anderson's six time travel volumes.

The Technicolor Time Machine by Harry Harrison: familiar Andersonian territory - Vinland, circular causality and humor;

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers: circular causality and fantasy;

Bid Time Return/Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson: like The Time Traveler's Wife, a romantic novel of time travel.

I said earlier that "the cleverest kind of time travel story" was one in which past events seem not to proceed as they should but then the author gets them back on track. Anderson does this in The Dancer From Atlantis but it is a technique perfected by Powers and Matheson.

In The Anubis Gates:

The Times reports a talk by Lord Byron on a particular date;
a coach party of time travelers, suitably attired in period costumes, arrives to hear the talk;
they have arrived a week too early!;
however, since Lord Byron is to hand and since so many people have traveled so far to hear him (!), he agrees to deliver the talk a week earlier than planned;
a journalist attends and takes notes;
this is the talk that is reported in The Times.


it is recorded that our hero's dead body was found on a particular date;
fighting his (magically generated) clone on the appointed date, he sustains a wound that was not recorded and suddenly realizes that it is the clone's body that is to be found;
passing the presumed date of his death, he happily regains the freedom of the unknown...

In Bid Time Return:

the central character, having read a hotel register decades later, knows exactly when he signed in at a hotel and which room he stayed in;
approaching the hotel lobby, he pauses in order not to arrive too soon, then hurries in order not to arrive too late, although it is impossible that he arrive any earlier or later than he did arrive;
the hotel clerk starts to give him the wrong room key and he must restrain himself from saying, "That's the wrong room!;"
a second clerk says, "That room has been booked," and the first clerk gives him the right key after all.

Ingenious. If I were on the Desert Island with only one work of fiction, it would be Time Patrol but, if I were to be allowed a few more volumes, then they would include a small time travel library.

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