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New Views on Time Travel

Partially as a result of my love for Doctor Who, and partially from my overly creative childhood imagination, there’s one thing that will always hold true for me: I LOVE the concept of time travel.

I enjoy debates with friends about a person’s ability to alter the past (and by virtue also changing the present), applying the various arguments to some of the more iconic time travel movies...

 

  • Could the Terminator really kill John Connor? Or more importantly, could the future Kyle Reese actually be John Connor’s father? 
  • Could Marty McFly really alter his parents’ marriage, his dad’s job, or Biff’s future?
  • Is time traveling really a 4th dimension by which you can travel to a different time but not alter the geographic location, such as in H.G Wells’ The Time Machine? Or can you travel to different places in time like Doctor Who?

It’s safe to say that time travel can be analyzed in many different ways, beyond the simple enjoyment of experiencing events that occurred in the distant past or will occur far in the future. But beyond discussions of theatrical presentations of time travel, my greatest enjoyment in those analyses is the vastly different interpretations of time travel presented in literature.

Recently, two disparate time travel plot lines caught my attention, and I highly recommend them both to anyone interested in the time travel theme.

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway features a secret society focused on preserving the events of the past, with a delicious layer of romance. Presenting time travel as a fluid, emotion-based ability found in select members of the world’s population, characters interact with one another on a broad time span of almost 2000 years, with the majority of the book set in 1815. Ridgway skillfully interweaves time period customs, laws, and taboos, especially those concerning women, and plays on the discrepancies between eras. Part regency romance, mystery, science fiction, and historical fiction, this genre-bending tale of time travel carries appeal for a broad audience.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is an edgy mystery thriller featuring a time traveling serial killer. The killer travels at the urging of the House, an abandoned building that seems to remain a constant fixture across the span of the century. Imagine the breathtaking suspense and creepy atmosphere created by seeing the perspective of the killer, as well as the victim, play by play. Then imagine seeing the perspective of the sole survivor as she seeks justice from her would-be killer. The book’s chronology is not linear in time, requiring the reader to sort things out mentally, but the order in which Beukes presents the experiences vastly heightens the suspense for the reader. The Shining Girls is well worth the read—but if you get nightmares, don’t read late into the night like I did!

I hope you enjoy these two great books!

-Amber

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