I recently stumbled on this GoodReads group that proposes a weekly meme whose aim is to give a list of Top Five… anything, as long as they are book related. It sounds fun, and something I can manage even with my too-often-limited time.
And TIME is indeed the topic for this week, or rather: Books that feature Time Travel
There is a huge number of books dealing with time travel, but having to create a list for this week’s Top Five I discovered I read far too few of them, barely enough to fill the meme’s requirements…
H.G. Wells’ THE TIME MACHINE is undoubtedly both a classic of the genre and the best known book featuring time travel. The main character, a Victorian era inventor, uses his own contraption – the titular Time Machine – to travel to the future, where he discovers that what remains of humanity is divided into the childlike Eloi and the apelike Morlocks. The success of the book, and its theme, is testified by its various adaptations both for radio and screen, big and small.
Michael Crichton’s TIMELINE focuses on a group of history students who travel back to the 14th Century to rescue their professor, accidentally marooned there after having gone back through a time machine built by the professor’s sponsor, a corporation with shady goals – after all, how could a corporation not pursue shady goals? This book as well was translated into a movie for the big screen.
R.A. Heinlein’s THE DOOR INTO SUMMER is something of a walk down memory lane for me, since I read it a few decades ago: despite the long years, I still remember it dealt with a man who has lost everything – his company and his fiancée – to a dastardly plot, and manages to get his revenge by playing with time. What’s interesting here is that time travel is accomplished in two different ways: a more “conventional” machine and cryo-sleep. And I remember that a beloved cat was involved…
THE MANY-COLORED LAND by Julian May is another book I remember fondly: here the time travel is a form of permanent exile for people who don’t find themselves at ease in a time when contact with alien species and the formation of a galactic society are at the root of everyday life. So they choose to emigrate into the distant past, the Pliocene Era, where they discover, to their dismayed surprise, they are not alone as far as intelligent species go.
Last, but by no means least, the latest book on time travel I read: THE SHINING GIRLS by Lauren Beukes. It’s a wonderful, harrowing story about a Depression era amoral drifter who stumbles on a peculiar house that can take him to other times in the future, where he proceeds to kill young, promising women – the Shining Girls, those with a bright potential he feels the burning need to snuff out. The only potential victim who manages to survive, Kirby Mazrachi, will be the one who sets on his trail and transforms the hunter into the hunted. One of the best books I read in recent times, indeed.