Time Travel as a Foil for Fiction Writers

Time travel has been used by science fiction and alternate history writers to drive their stories for well over a hundred years. Most trace the start to HG Wells 1895 novel, “The Time Machine”. However, in that one the protagonist ventured into the future, observing the changes mankind wrought upon themselves. Most time travel stories move back in time to affect some event in their present or from the future to cause havoc in our present.

The impact of travelling into the past and altering history was best exemplified by Ray Bardbury’s 1952 short story, “A Sound of Thunder”.  It made the term “the butterfly effect” well known even outside the sci fi community. It showed how changing a single miniscule event in the past could have a chilling impact on the world as we know it.

Those types of tales are fascinating to me because they basically ask the question “What if?” It forces the reader to see history as a living series of events and not some cold static fact. The impact of a few events in time radically changed the world as we know it.  Exploring those twists that switch the path of history onto a new trail is at the core of most of my novels.

I conducted a short survey among friends and family and came up with a long list of popular movies and books that fit in this category. 

  • Terminator
  • Looper
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Back to the Future
  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • Mr. Peabody and Sherman (featuring his aptly named, Wayback Machine)

As you can see from this compilation, the time travel encompasses a wide gamut of storylines. I’m sure with a little thought you could add several to this list.

For me, the most memorable time traveler was Ebenezer Scrooge in the Christmas Carol. Observing himself, and others, in the past and the future made him declare, “I’m not the man I was.” Hence changing the course of (his) history.

Published by jcaligiuri

John Caligiuri is a novelist who has a lifelong passion for literature and pens primarily Science Fiction and Fantasy. He has been able to blend his fascination with history and his professional background in software engineering to come up with some unusual story twists. His stories emerged from his curiosity about historical watershed events and asking, “what if”. John lives in Rochester, New York with his wife Linda. She’s been married to him for over forty years and has supported his writing from the beginning. They have three grown children scattered around the country along with their first grandchild. For relaxation John enjoys gardening (which stretches his intellect attempting to outwit the rabbits and deer) red wine and distance running.

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