Time-Travel Fiction

  Storypilot’s Big List of Adventures in Time Travel


“Bombardment in Reverse”
by Norman L. Knight
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Feb 1940

Jamie Todd Rubin wrote about this story as part of his Vacation in the Golden Age, and I got a pdf copy on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. The story tells of two alien nations at war—a somewhat amateurish was by Martian or Terrestrial standards, but one in which time-traveling weapons target where the enemy was in the past. [Nov 2012]

 The Nyandrians are attacking Strofander with shells which traverse not only space, but time as well. 

This mimeographed Futurian publication was probably printed on the same mimeograph machine as the first mimeo of
“The Final Men.”

“The Final Men”
by H.G. Wells
First separate publication: Mar 1940 by Futurian Robert W. Lowndes

The first complete, published version of The Time Machine appeared as a five-part serial in the January through May 1895 issues of New Review, edited by William Ernest Henley. In the introduction to the 1924 edition, Wells wrote about the back-and-forth between himself and Henley, saying that “There was a slight struggle between the writer and W.E. Henley who wanted, he said, to put a little ‘writing’ into the tale.”

One piece of that writing was a short episode after the traveller leaves the Eloi and the Morlocks, just before visiting the red sun and the end of the world. This episode was deleted from both the American (Holt text) and the British (Heinemann text) published book editions of the novel, but it did appear as a 7-page mimeographed and stapled publication from American fan and Futurian Robert W. Lowndes in 1940, and it appeared in a number of other places, sometimes called “The Grey Man” and once called “The Missing Pages.” [Jan 2013]

 No doubt, too, the rain and snow had long since washed out the Morlock tunnels. A nipping breeze stung my hands and face. So far as I could see there were neither hills, nor trees, nor rivers: only an uneven stretch of cheerless plateau. 


Silver Streak Comics
by Jack Cole, et. al.
First time travel: Dickie Dean in Silver Streak 3, Mar 1940

Jack Cole, the Playboy cartoonist, must have been a little boy when he wrote the adventures of Boy Inventor Dickie Dean. Dickie’s inventions included a machine to capture conversations from the past (Silver Streak Comics 3), a time camera (probably in issue 10). You could argue that neither of these is real time travel, but never mind.

I’ll bet there was more time travel in Silver Streak; for example, #1 has a story called “As Time Stops” starring Mister Midnight. But the originals are nearly impossible to track down, so I may never know whether they have time travel for sure. [Jun 2012]

 Without getting technical, this is a “time camera”! It is possible to reconstruct and photogaph scenes of the past with this machine! 


“Hindsight”
by Jack Williamson
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, May 1950

Years ago, engineer Bill Webster abandoned Earth for the employ of the piratical Astrarch; now the Astrarch is aiming the final blow at a defeated Earth, and Bill wonders whether the gunsites that he invented can site—and change!—events in the past. [Jun 2011]

 He didn’t like to be called the Renegade. 


“The Mosaic”
by J.B. Ryan
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1940
Emir Ismail (a soldier and scientist in a Muslim-led 20th century) travels back to the crucial Battle of Tours in 732 A.D.

This is the first story that I read via electronic interlibrary loan with the help of the University of Colorado librarians. [Aug 2011]

 History is built event by incident—and each is a brick in its structure. If one small piece should slip— 
—John W. Campbell’s introductory blurb for the story


“Who’s Cribbing”
by Todd Thromberry
First publication: Macabre Adventures, Aug 1940

 Dear Mr. Gates,
   ...Please write and tell me what you think of my theory.
Respectfully,
Jack Lewis
 


“Sunspot Purge”
by Clifford Simak
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Nov 1940

“Read the News Before It Happens!” That’s the slogan that reporter Mike Hamilton proposes when the Globe buys a time machine. But when Mike goes onto the future beat, it’s more than just the stock market and the Minnesota-Wisconsin football game that he runs into—it’s the world of 2450 with only scattered population. [Aug 2011]

 Think of the opportunities a time machine offers a newspaper. The other papers can tell them what has happened and what is happening, but, by Godrey, they’ll have to read the Globe to know what is going to happen. 


“Trouble in Time”
by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth (as by S.D. Gottesman)
First publication: Astounding Stories, Dec 1940
I enjoyed this early effort from the two young Futurians, especially the beginning where chemical engineer Mabel Evans of Colchester, Vermont, goes to visit the newly arrived mad scientist who offers her ethyl alcohol and a trip to the future. [Dec 2013]

 That was approximately what Stephen had said, so I supposed that he was. “Right as rarebits,” I said. 


“The Mechanical Mice”
by Eric Frank Russell
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jan 1941 (as by Maurice G. Hugi)
Slightly mad scientist Burman invents a time machine that lets him see the future, from whence he brings back other inventions including a swarm of reproducing mechanical beasties. [Apr 2012]

 I pinched the idea. What makes it madder is that I wasn’t quite sure of what I was stealing, and, crazier still, I don’t know from whence I stole it. 


“The Best-Laid Scheme”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Feb 1941

I like the verb that de Camp coined for forward time travel—vanwinkling—but when the hero, De Witt, chases Hedges back in time, they start changing things and everyone (including them) remembers both the old time and the new. It’s beyond me to grok that form of time travel, but I give credit for creativity. [Mar 2012]

 The problem of backward-jumping has not hitherto been solved. It involves an obvious paradox. If I go back and slay my own grandfather, what becomes of me? 


“Doubled and Redoubled”
by Malcolm Jameson
First publication: Unknown, Feb 1941

Jimmy Childers was certain of two things: that last night he’d set the alarm to silent (even though it went off this morning) and that yesterday, June 14th, was the perfect day, the likes of which could certainly never be repeated again.

This is the earliest sf story that I’ve seen with a time loop, although there was the earlier 1939 episode of The Shadow[Nov 2013]

 Jimmy had the queer feeling, which comes over one at times, he was reliving something that had already happened. 


“Poker Face”
by Theodore Sturgeon
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Mar 1941
The accountant, Mr. Face, joins the poker game and, among other things, has the remarkable ability to rig any deal without even touching the cards—what else would you expect for a man who’s traveled some 30,000 years from the future? [Jul 2001]

 “Now spill it. Just where did you come from?”
   “Geographically,” said Face, “not very far from here. Chronologically, a hell of a long way.”
 


“Not the First”
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Apr 1941
As Earth’s first starship passes the light-speed barrier, strange things happen to its acceleration—and to the passage of time. [Dec 2010]

 Still, it was odd that the lighting system should have gone on the blink on this first ‘night’ of this first trip of the first spaceship powered by the new, stupendous atomic drive. 


“Time Wants a Skeleton”
by Ross Rocklynne
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1941
After seeing a skeleton with a well-known ring on its finger, a spaceship is thrown back in time and the crew believes that one of them is fated to become that skeleton. This is an early story that addresses the question of whether something known about the future must become true. [Dec 2011]

 He could feel the supple firmness of her body even through the folds of her undistended pressure suit. 


“Yesterday Was Monday”
by Theodore Sturgeon
First publication: Unknown Fantasy Fiction, Jun 1941

Harry Wright goes to bed on Monday night, skips over Tuesday, and wakes up in a Wednesday that’s not quite been built yet. [Jul 2001]

 The weather makers put .006 of one percent too little moisture in the air on this set. There’s three-sevenths of an ounce too little gasoline in the storage tanks under here. 




Fawcett Comics
First time travel: Wow Comics 2, Summer 1941


Time travel made it to the Marvel family in 1942, or at least the the earliest instance that I’ve spotted was a Captain Marvel story of that year (“The Amazing Trip into Time” in Whiz Comics #26 from 23 Jan 1942). Between then and the lawful demise of Fawcett’s Marvels, the whole family (the Captain, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., the Lieutenant Marvels) and the evil Dr. Sivana had a myriad of time-travel episodes by various means from Father Time to the doctor’s time pill to the captain’s time chair.

Fawcett also had other comics, some with time travel, such as Atom Blake who met himself in time in Wow Comics 2 and Nyoka, the Jungle Girl who traveled to prehistoric times in issue 10. As I find more of those, I’ll list them on my time-travel comics page. [circa 1970]

 OMIGOSH! Now I remember everything! I went to the past in order to prevent Captain Marvel from ever existing! But when I got to the past, all I did was re-live the same events as before! Curses! 
—Dr. Sirvana from Captain Marvel Adventures #80


Methuselah's Children
by Robert A. Heinlein
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul/Aug/Sep 1941

The time travelin’ didn’t commence until 1973 in Time Enough for Love, but trust me and read this one anyhow to get Lazarus’s back story. [Jul 1969]

 “‘Life is short—’”
“‘—but the years are long.’”
“‘Not,’” Mary responded, “‘while the evil days come not.’”
 

The story also appeared in this 2000 collection.
“The Probable Man”
by Alfred Bester
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1941
Years before The Demolished Man, there was Bester’s probable man. I looked forward to reading it as the first story of my retirement, and I enjoyed the time-travel model that Bester set up: David Conn travels backward from 2941 to World War II, but then returns to a vastly changed future. For me, though, I found the naïve attitude toward war unappealing. [Jan 2012]

 She’d be Hilda Pietjen, daughter of the prime minister, just another chip in the Nazi poker game. And he’d be dead in a bunker, a thousand years before he’d been born. 


“Sidetrack in Time”
by William P. McGivern
First publication: Amazing Stories, Jul 1941
Philip Kingley has a plan to get rid of his time-traveling professor some 5000 years in the future. Unfortunately, the ending to Philip’s also got rid of any chance more than half a star in my rating. [Apr 2014]

 He scrambled out of the machine, the delirious feeling of success and power coursing through his veins like strong drink. His eyes traveled about the laboratory, slowly, gloatingly. All of it his. The equipment, the formulas, and most of all—the time machine. 




The Weapon Shop Stories
by A.E. van Vogt
First story: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1941



Time travel plays only a small role in Van Vogt’s three stories and a serial. The stories follow the immortal founder of The Weapon Shops, an organization that puts science to work to ensure that the common man is never dominated by government or corporations. Along the way, a 20th century man becomes a time-travel pawn, a young man seven millennia in the future takes advantage of a much shorter time-travel escapade, and you’ll spot at least one other time-travel moment.

All the stories were fixed up into two books, The Weapon Shops of Isher and The Weapon Makers, and the SFBC gathered both those into The Empire of Isher[Jul 1969]
 TitlePublication 
“The Seesaw”Astounding, Jul 1941
“The Weapon Shops”Astounding, Dec 1942
“The Weapon Makers”Astounding, Feb-Apr 1943
“The Weapon Shops of Isher”Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb 1949

 What did happen to McAllister from the instant that he found the door of the gunshop unlocked? 


“Backlash”
by Jack Williamson
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Aug 1941

Although it doesn’t involve Hitler by name, this story may be the start of the Use-a-Time-Machine-to-Kill-Hitler subgenre. [Dec 2011]

 With the new tri-polar units I can deflect the projection field back through time. That’s where I’m going to attack Levin—in his vulnerable past. 

The story also appears in the 1953 collection Assignment in Eternity, including this copy which I bought at Heathrow while waiting for my mother to arrive for my wedding.
“Elsewhere”
aka "Elsewhen"
by Robert A. Heinlein (as by Caleb Saunders)
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1941


Professor Arthur Frost has a small but willing class of students who explore elsewhere and elsewhen. [Feb 1980]

 Most people think of time as a track that they run on from birth to death as inexorably as a train follows its rails—they feel instinctively that time follows a straight line, the past lying behind, the future lying in front. Now I have reason to believe—to know—that time is analogous to a surface rather than a line, and a rolling hilly surface at that. Think of this track we follow over the surface of time as a winding road cut through hills. Every little way the road branches and the branches follow side canyons. At these branches the crucial decisions of your life take place. You can turn right or left into entirely different futures. Occasionally there is a switchback where one can scramble up or down a bank and skip over a few thousand or million years—if you don’t have your eyes so fixed on the road that you miss the short cut. 

Asimov’s “Nightfall” also appeared in this issue.
“Short-Circuited Probability”
by Norman L. Knight
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1941
Our hero, Mark Livingston, finds a dead human body that is older than the human race—but still quite clearly his own body along with a highly evolved traveling companion. [Dec 2010]

 This is a story of something that did—or didn’t—happen. Question is, can it be properly said that it did or did not? 
—Campbell’s introduction to the story


“By His Bootstraps”
by Robert A. Heinlein (as by Anson MacDonald)
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Oct 1941


Bob Wilson, Ph.D. student, throws himself 30,000 years into the future, where he tries to figure out what began this whole adventure.

Evan Zweifel gave me a copy of this magazine as a present! [Dec 1974]

 Wait a minute now—he was under no compulsion. He was sure of that. Everything he did and said was the result of his own free will. Even if he didn’t remember the script, there were some things that he knew “Joe” hadn’t said. “Mary had a little lamb,” for example. He would recite a nursery rhyme and get off this damned repetitive treadmill. He opened his mouth— 


“Snulbug”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Unknown Worlds, Dec 1941

In need of $10,000 to open a medical clinic, Bill Hitchens calls forth Snulbug, a one-inch high demon who likes the warmth in Bill’s pipe, and orders the demon to retrieve tomorrow’s newspaper and bring it back to today. [Jan 2013]

 Then as soon as I release you from that pentacle, you’re to bring me tomorrow’s newspaper. 








DC Superhero Comics
First time travel: Adventure Comics 71, Feb 1942
As a kid, I never read DC (Why would I? Excelsior!), but I’ve read some DC time-travel comics since then (don’t tell Stan). The earliest DC time travel that I’ve found was in 1942, but as for the big boys, the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder got the jump on the Man of Steel by a few months: Batman’s first travel was back to ancient Rome in Batman #24 via hypnosis by Professor Carter Nichols. Here’s a table of notable DC first time-travel experiences that I’ve found through 1969 (after that, everything became time-travel chaos): [circa 1990]
 CharacterFirst Time Travel 
StarmanAdventure Comics 71, Feb 1942
Green Arrow, et. al.Leading Comics 3, Jun 1942
Green LanternGreen Lantern 7, Spring 1943
Justice Society of America   All Star Comics 10, Apr/May 1942
The Shining KnightAdventure Comics 86, Jul 1943
Batman and RobinWorld’s Finest 11, Fall 1943
Wonder WomanWonder Woman 20, Nov 1946
SupermanSuperman 44, Jan-Feb 1947
Johnny QuickAdventure Comics 134, Nov 1948
SuperboySuperboy 2, May/Jun 1949
Lois LaneAction Comics 152, Jan 1951
Blackhawk CommandosBlackhawk 47, Dec 1951
Rex the Wonder DogRex 17, Oct 1954
Jimmy OlsenJimmy Olsen 7, Sep 1955
The FlashShowcase 4, Oct 1956
Legion of Super-HeroesAdventure Comics 247, Apr 1958
AquamanAdventure Comics 251, Aug 1958
ChallengersChal. of the Unknown 4, Nov 1958
Rip HunterDC Showcase 20, May 1959
SupergirlAction Comics 255, Aug 1959
Adam StrangeMystery in Space 62, Dec 1960
The Atomic KnightsStrange Adventures 129, Jun 1961
Elongated ManThe Flash 124, Nov 1961
JLAJustice League of America 10, Mar 1962
The AtomThe Atom 3, Nov 1962
J’onn J’onzzDetective Comics 305, Dec 1962
The SpectreShowcase 61, Apr 1966
EclipsoHouse of Secrets 79, Jul 1966
Prince Ra-ManHouse of Secrets 79, Jul 1966
Sea DevilsSea Devils 32, Dec 1966

“Recruiting Station”
aka Masters of Time (1942); Earth’s Last Fortress (1960)
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Mar 1942

When the Glorious begin shanghaiing military recruits throughout time, Miss Norma Matheson and her once-and-future boyfriend Jack Garson are caught up in 18 versions of our solar system and a Glorious-vs-Planetarians war. [Mar 2012]

 We are masters of time. We live at the farthest frontier of time itself, and all the ages belong to us. No words could begin to describe the vastness of our empire or the futility of opposing us. 


“Some Curious Effects of Time Travel”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Apr 1942
The very first Probability Zero story in Astounding took us on a romp back in time by the members of the Drinkwhiskey Institute to obtain saleable specimens of Pleistocene fauna, we learn that time travel has an effect on aging (coincidentally, the same effect described by Gaspar in Chapter 9 of El Anacronópete). [Nov 2012]

 A curious feature of time travel back from the present is that one gets younger and younger, becoming successively a youth, a child, an embryo and finally nothing at all. 


“Time Pussy”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Apr 1942 (as by George E. Dale)

Mr. Mac tells of the troubles of trying to preserve the body of a four-dimensional cat. [Jul 1972]

 ‘Four-dimensional, Mr. Mac? But the fourth dimension is time.’ I had learned that the year before, in the third grade. 

This issue also contains Asimov’s first Foundation story.
“Forever Is Not So Long”
by F. Anton Reeds
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, May 1942
The professor’s handsome assistant, Stephen Darville, is in love with the professor’s beautiful daughter and wants to spend every waking moment with her, but duty calls—duty to build a time machine, of course, in which the youthful assistant can go ten years into the future to return with the more polished time machines that will be produced by the professor’s very own technicians over the next ten years. [Dec 2012]

 The technicians would “save” themselves ten years of labor and the new sweeping highway in the future and the past would be open to mankind within the life of its discoverer. 


“The Ghost of Me”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Unknown Worlds, Jun 1942

After Dr. John Adams is murdered, his ghost accidentally begins haunting some time before the murder occurred. [Jan 2013]

 I’ve simply come back into time at the wrong point. 

The story also appears in Groff Conklin’s 1952 anthology, The Omnibus of Science Fiction.
“Heritage”
by Robert Abernathy
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1942
Nick Doody, inventor of the time machine and sole explorer through time, ventures some nine millennia beyond what he reckons was the fall of mankind. [Apr 2012]

 Are you not a Man, and do not Men know everything? But I am only a... 

The story also appeared in this 1975 collection.
“My Name Is Legion”
by Lester del Rey
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1942
At the end of World War II, as the Allies occupation army closes in on Hitler, a man offers him a way to bring back thousands of copies of himself from the future. [Apr 2007]

 Years ago in one of those American magazines, there was a story of a man who saw himself. He came through a woods somewhere and stumbled on a machine, got in, and it took him three days back in time. Then, he lived forward again, saw himself get in the machine and go back. 


“Time Dredge”
by Robert Arthur, Jr.
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1942

I haven’t yet read this story which appeared only in Astounding, but Jamie Todd Rubin writes that the story is of two men who seek a German professor who plans to pull things out of ancient South America to help the Germany win World War II. [Based on Rubin]

 The German professor had a nice idea for making archeology a branch of Blitzkrieg technique—with the aid of a little tinkering with Time. 
—John W. Campbell’s introduction to the story

The story also appeared in this 2003 collection.
“Secret Unattainable”
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1942
After his brother is killed by the Nazis, Herr Professor Johann Kenrube invents a machine that promises a little of everything to Hitler—unlimited energy and natural resources, instant transportation behind enemy lines, even a smidgden of time travel—but only after the Germans have over-committed themselves, does the truth about the machine emerge. [May 2012]

 Kenrube was at Gribe Schloss before two P.M., March 21st. This completely nullifies the six P.M. story. Place these scoundrels under arrest, and bring them before me at eight o’clock tonight. 
—comment on a memo from Himmler


“About Quarrels, about the Past”
by John Pierce
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1942
In addition to A.E. van Vogt’s “Secret Unattainable,” the July 1942 Astounding also had three short, short time travel stories as part of the magazine’s Probability Zero series. In this story, our narrator tells of the quirky Quarrels who took his time machine into the past—or we should say some past— to woo the winsome Nephertiti. [May 2012]

 Well, didn’t you realize that this uncertainty holds for the past, too? I hadn’t until Quarrels pointed it out. All we have is a lot of incomplete data. Is it just because we’re stupid? Not at all. We can’t find a unique wave function. 

Some other flag covers from July 1942
“The Strange Case of the Missing Hero”
by Frank Holby
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1942
Many magazines across the U.S. featured a flag on the cover in this patriotic month. In this second Probability Zero story of the issue, Elliot Gallant, hero to the people and beacon light of courage, was the first man to travel through time; Sebastian Lelong, editor of the Encyclopedia Galactica, aims to find out why he never returned.

This is the earliest story that I’ve spotted anywhere with the time traveler coming to know his own mother. [May 2012]

 Elliot Gallant went back into time thirty years. He liked the peaceful days of yesteryear. He married, had a son. 

Interior artwork for the Probability Zero series
“That Mysterious Bomb Raid”
by Bob Tucker
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1942
Sitting around Hinkle’s, the narrator tells the story of how he, Hinkle and the local university scientist took a bomb back in time in an attempt to nip World War II in the bud. [May 2012]

 Well, sir, that little machine traveled so fast that before we could stop it we found ourselves in the last century. Somewhere in the 1890s. We were going to drop our oil drip there but I happened to remember that my grandfather was spending his honeymoon in Tokyo sometime during that decade— 


“Time Marches On”
by Ted Carnell
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Aug 1942
Also appearing in the first ever Probability Zero column (along with de Camp’s story, listed above, and a story by Malcolm Jameson) is Asimov’s tale of a group of science fiction authors who explore the consequences of a simple time machine that can be built from radio parts, but can take the traveler only into the future. [Sep 2012]

 Yes, they were practically all here, thought Doc Smith, as his gaze moved from one to another of the circle. Williamson, Miller, Hubbard, Bond, McClary, Rocklynne, Heinlein and MacDonald, and many others who had once written about the mysteries of time travel—so many hundreds of years ago now. 


“Barrier”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1942
John Brent travels 500 years into the future only to find that he can’t return because the authoritarian state has erected barriers to change that include regularization of all verbs and temporal barriers that prevent backward time travel. [Nov 2012]

 That is only to be expected when you jump five hundred years, but it is nonetheless perplexing to have your first query of" “What city is this?” answered by the sentence: “Stappers will get you. Or be you Slanduch?” 

The story also appeared in Healy and McComas’s famous 1946 anthology, Adventures in Time and Space.
“The Twonky”
by by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore (as by Lewis Padgett)
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1942

A dazed man (apparently dazed from running into a temporal snag) appears in a radio factory, whereupon (before returning to his own time) he makes a radio that’s actually a twonky which gets shipped to a Mr. Kerry Westerfield, who is initially quite confounded and amazed at all it can do. [Sep 2012]

 The—robot— was trying to be helpful. Only Kerry would have preferred to remain drunk. 


The Anachron Stories
by Malcolm Jameson
First story: Astounding Science Fiction, Oct 1942
Golden-age favorite Malcolm Jameson wrote three stories of Anachron, Inc., a company that recruits ex-commandos for their “foreign” department—a euphemism for intertemporal commerce. [Nov 2012]
 TitlePublication 
“Anachron, Inc.”Astounding, Oct 1942
“Barrius, Imp.”Astounding, Jan 1943
“When Is When?”Astounding, Aug 1943

 We can use a limited number of agents for our “foreign” department, but they must be wiry, active, of unusually sound constitution, and familiar with the use of all types of weapons. They MUST be resourceful, of quick decision, tact and of proven courage, as they may be called upon to work in difficult and dangerous situations without guidance or supervision. Previous experience in purchasing or sales work desirable but not necessary. EX-COMMANDO MEN usually do well with us. 


“The Case of the Baby Dinosaur”
by Walter Kubilius (as by J.S. Klimaris)
First publication: Future Fantasy and Science Fiction, Oct 1942
Futurian Walter Kubilius wrote this story about Wilbur and Stevenson, two members of the Society for the Investigation of Unusual Phenomena, who must track down a time-machinist jokester who, among other things, drops a baby dinosaur in Times Square, plops Cleopatra into a modern beauty contest, and brings Shakespeare to a modern-day theater. [Apr 2014]

 A time-machinist with a sense of humor! 


The Thunderbolt
drawn by Rafael Astarita
First publication: Doc Savage Comics #10, Nov 1942

According to the Michigan State University Comic Art Collection index, Doc Savage #10 included a 7-page origin of a superhero called The Thunderbolt (aka Dr. Adams). The story involved a scientific princess and time travel, but the hero was never heard from again. (Maybe he/she is lost in time.)

 With the aid of the mystic powers of Princess Ione, mistress of scientific wonders... 
—from the splash page

A translation appeard in the all-Boucher issue of Urania (10 Feb 1991). Strangely enough, “snulbug” translates as “snulbug” in Italian; however “Elsewhen” is “Viaggio nel tempo.”
“Elsewhen”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jan 1943
Private detective Fergus O’Breen investigates Harrison Patrigde, inventor and ne’er-do-well, who accidentally invents a short-range time machine, causing him to envision how the world (and the lovely Faith Preston) will admire him if only he can get enough money to build a bigger version (perhaps via a murder with the time machine providing an alibi). [Nov 2012]

 Time can pass quickly when you are absorbed in your work, but not so quickly as all that. Mr. Partridge looked at his pocket watch. It said nine thirty-one. Suddely, in the space of seconds, the best chronometer available had gained forty-two minutes. 


“The Search”
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jan 1943
When salesman Ralph Carson Drake tries to recover his missing memory of the past two weeks, he discovers that he had interactions with a woman named Selanie Johns who sold remarkable futuristic devices for one dollar, her father, and an old gray-eyed, man who is feared by Selanie and her father.

Van Vogt combined this with two other stories and a little fix-up material for his 1970 publication of Quest for the Future[Apr 2012]

 “Just grab his right shoulder with that glove, from behind,” SpockPrice was saying. “Press below the collarbone with the points of your fingers, press hard.” 

The story also appeared in this 1952 collection.
“Time Locker”
by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore (as by Lewis Padgett)
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jan 1943
Once again, drunken genius Gallegher invents something without knowing that he has done so’this time, a box that swallows things up until they reappear at now + x. [Dec 2010]

 He was, Vanning reflected, an odd duck. Galloway was essentially amoral, thoroughly out of place in this too-complicated world. He seemed to watch, with a certain wry amusement, from a vantage point of his own, rather disinterested for the most part. And he made things— 


“The Angelic Angleworm”
by Fredric Brown
First publication: Unknown Worlds, Feb 1943
If Charlie Wills and you have patience, then Charlie will figure out what’s causing those strange occurrences (such as an angleworm turning into an angel) and you will figure out that angels can time travel. [Aug 2011]

 We can drop you anywhere in the continuum. 


“Mimsy Were the Borogroves”
by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore (as by Lewis Padgett)
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Feb 1943


A scientist in the far future sends back two boxes of educational toys to test his time machine. One is discovered by Charles Dodgson’s niece in the 19th century, and the other by two children in 1942.

This story was in the first book that I got from the SF Book Club in the summer of 1970, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1 (edited by Robert Silverberg). I read and reread those stories until the book fell apart. [Jul 1970]

 Neither Paradine nor Jane guessed how much of an effect the contents of the time machine were having on the kids. 


“Sanctuary”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1943
Mr. Holding, an American poet in Vichy France before the U.S. came into the war, visits an American scientist who is trying to stay neutral as he builds his time machine. [Jan 2013]

 I am, sir, a citizen of the world of science. 


“Paradox Lost”
by Fredric Brown
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Oct 1943
During a philosophy lecture, the left hand of bored college student Shorty McCabe disappears, at which point Shorty figures he may as well follow whereever the hand went, which turns out to be into a time machine invented by the only kind of person who could invent such a thing—a crazy man. [Dec 2012]

 But a time machine is impossible. It is a paradox. Your professors will explain that a time machine cannot be, because it would mean that two things could occupy the same space at the same time. And a man could go back and kill himself when he was younger, and—oh, all sorts of stuff like that. It’s completely impossible. Only a crazy man could— 


Dick Devins, King of Futuria
First appearance: Mystery Comics 1, 1944

Dick Devins was a 20th century time traveler who protected the 30th century from all that was evil. He appeared in the four 1944 issues of Mystery Comics (#1-4) and in at least four 1947 issues of Wonder Comics (#11-14). [Jun 2012]

 Twenty-four hours in the 30th century, eh? Sounds interesting—if your time machine works! I’ll take your offer, professor! 
—from the splash page in Mystery Comics 1


“As Never Was”
by P. Schuyler Miller
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jan 1944

One of the first inexplicable finds by archealogists traveling to the future is the blue knife made of no known material brought back by Walter Toynbee who promptly dies, leaving it to his grandson to explain the origin of the knife. [Mar 2012]

 I knew grandfather. He would go as far as his machine could take him. I had duplicated that. He would look around him for a promising site, get out his tools, and pitch in. Well, I could do that, too. 

The story also appeared in August Derleth’s 1948 anthology, Strange Ports of Call.
“Far Centaurus”
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jan 1944
Four men set out for Alpha Centauri on a 500-year journey where each will awaken only a handful of times. That’s not time travel, of course, but be patient.

Van Vogt combined this with two other stories and some fix-up material (especially for “Far Centaurus”) for his 1970 publication of Quest for the Future[Apr 2012]

 We’re here! It’s over, the long night, the incredible journey. We’ll all be waking, seeing each other, as well as the civilization out there. Seeing, too, the great Centauri suns. 


Archie Comics
created by John L. Goldwater, Vic Bloom and Bob Montana
First time travel: Archie 7, Mar 1944

I’d like to know more about time travel by Riverdale’s upstanding citizens. The earliest I found was in “Time Trouble” from Archie 7 (Mar 1944), which did get the jump on Batman by five months. Later episodes were in Pep 131 (Feb 1959) and at least a handful of 1960s stories. [Dec 2010]

“And Adam Begot”
by Arch Oboler
First publication: Out of This World, May 1944
I haven’t yet read this story, which came from Oboler’s 1939 radio play of the same name. It was later turned into a tv episode of Lights Out and was the basis of a Steve Ditko story in the Black Magic comic book (1953).

Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies Cartoons
voices by Mel Blanc
First time travel: 28 Oct 1944


I hope I’ll find more time travel in the Warner Brothers cartoons, but for starters, there’s “The Old Grey Hare” where Elmer Fudd is taken far into the future—past 1990!— where he chases bugs with the Buck Rogers Lightning Quick Rabbit Killer, and Daffy Duck with Speedy Gonzalez in “See Ya Later, Gladiator” (1968). [Jul 2013]

 When you hear the sound of the gong, it will be exactly twoooooo thowwwwwsand Ayyyyy Deee! 


“The Pink Caterpillar”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Adventure, Feb 1945
After Norm Harker tells of a magic man who can bring you back a single item from the future (for the right price), Anthony Boucher’s detective Fergus O’Breen tops the story with the tale of how he figured out why a dead American living in Mexico liked to call himself a doctor. [Dec 2012]

 At least that’s the firm belief everywhere on the island: a tualala can go forward in time and bring you back any single item you specify, for a price. We used to spend the night watches speculating on what would be the one best thing to order. 


Classic Comics’
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

adapted by Jack Hearne
First publication: Classic Comics #24, Sep 1945

Jack Hearne’s illustrations provided an abbreviated but accurate adaptation of Hank Morgan’s medieval travails. [Jun 2011]

 Ah! I’ve got it! On June 21st, 528, there was a total eclipse of the sun, but in 1879 there was none...now to wait...that will prove everything! 


“Mr. Lupescu”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Weird Tales, Sep 1945

Time travel makes a cameo appearance in this story in which young Bobby tells his Uncle Alan about his godfather, Mr. Lupescu, who has a great big red nose, red gloves, red eyes, and little red wings that twitch. [Jan 2013]

 But one of Mr. Lupescu’s friends, now, was captain of a ship, only it went in time, and Mr. Lupescu took trips with him and came back and told you all about what was happening this very minute five hundred years ago. 


“What You Need”
by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore (as by Lewis Padgett)
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Oct 1945
Reporter Tim Carmichael visits Peter Talley, a shopkeeper on Park Avenue who provides for a select clientele things that they will need in the future.

I never include prescience stories in my list, but like Heinlein’s “Life-Line,” this one is an exception. [Apr 2012]

   


“The Chronokinesis of Jonathan Hull”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1946
Private Eye Fergus O’Breen is back for his third and final encounter with time travel, this time with a time traveler who shows up dead in his room one day and is alive and walking in a stilted manner the next. In the process of explaining himself, the traveler also displays knowledge of Boucher’ traveler in “Barrier” and also of Breen’s other time travel encounters. [Dec 2012]

 And now, I realize, Mr. O’Breen, why I was inclined to trust you the moment I saw yoiur card. It was through a fortunately preserved letter of your sister’s, which found its way into our archives, that we knew of the early fiasco of Harrison Partridge and your part therein. We knew, too, of the researches of Dr. Derringer, and how he gave up in despair after his time traveler failed to return, having encountered who knows what unimaginable future barrier. 


“Film Library”
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1946
Each time a film goes through Peter Caxton’s projector at Tichenor Collegiate, it gets replaced with a different film from the future.

Van Vogt combined this with two other stories and a little fix-up material for his 1970 publication of Quest for the Future[Apr 2012]

 Not that he would necessarily have suspected anyway that he had come into possession of films that had been made more than fifty years in the future. 


Prize Comics’ Frankenstein
by Dirk Briefer
First time travel: Jul 1946


I’m always on the lookout for early depictions outside of sf with a climb-in-able time machine where you set the dials and go. Briefer’s humorous Frankenstein had just a such a machine in a 9-page story in issue #3 (Jul 1946). Frankenstein runs into Professor Goniph, and they travel in his machine to 2046 and 1646, although there is a twist at the end. [Jan 2012]

 It works!! It works!!! I am a genius!! We are in 2046!!! 

The story also appeared in this 1982 collection.
“Blind Time”
by George O. Smith
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1946
Oak Tool Works has developed a handy time treatment whereby a portion of any tool can be sent into the future for a limited time, but it's movements during that time must exactly mirror the movements of the rest of the tool during the current time. Peter Wright is the insurance adjuster who must examine an accident that the treatment is going to cause at 8pm. [Mar 2012]

 There is that element of wonder, too, you know. Every man in the place knows that someone is going to get clipped with that crane. 


“Vintage Season”
by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1946

More and more strange people are appearing each day in and around Oliver Wilson’s home; the explanation from the euphoric redhead leads him to believe they are time travelers gathering for an important event. [Jun 2011]

 Looking backward later, Oliver thought that in that moment, for the first time clearly, he began to suspect the truth. But he had no time to ponder it, for after the brief instant of enmity the three people from—elsewhere—began to speak all at once, as if in a belated attempt to cover something they did not want noticed. 


Timely Comics
founded by Martin Goodman
First time travel: All Winners Comics 21, Winter ’46-47

Timely was the predecessor to Atlas which became Marvel Comics in the ’60s. Some of their superheroes survived that transition (Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, and an android Human Torch, among others). I’ve only begun to dig up their time travel, finding one issue of All Winners Comics where Captain America and the All Winners Squad do battle with a man from 1,000,000 A.D. Also, in 1948, the Timely superhuman, comical boxer, Powerhouse Pepper, visited the pilgrims via time machine (#4, Sep 1948). [Jun 2012]

 Project yourselves for into the fture...to the year one million A.D. The Earth is almost unfit for human life! 
—Captain America in All Winners Comics 21


“The Man Who Never Grew Young”
by Fritz Leiber, Jr.
First publication: in Night’s Black Agents, 1947

Without knowing why, our narrator describes his life as a man who stays the same for millennia, even as others, one-by-one, are disintered, slowly grow younger and younger.

The story is soft-spoken but moving, and for me, it was a good complement to T.H. White’s backward-time-traveler, Merlyn. [Apr 2012]

 It is the same in all we do. Our houses grow new and we dismantle them and stow the materials inconspicuously away, in mine and quarry, forest and field. Our clothes grow new and we put them off. And we grow new and forget and blindly seek a mother. 


“Time and Time Again”
by H. Beam Piper
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Apr 1947


At 43 years old, Allan Hartley is caught in a flash-bomb at the Battle of Buffalo, only to wake up in his own 13-year-old body on the day before Hiroshima.

Piper’s first short story impacted me because I fantasize about the same thing (perhaps we all do). What would you do? Who would you tell? What would you try to change? What would you fear changing? [Jan 2012]

 Here; if you can remember the next thirty years, suppose you tell me when the War’s going to end. This one, I mean. 


“Tomorrow and Tomorrow”
by Ray Bradbury
First publication: Fantastic Adventures, May 1947
When a typewriter appears on the floor of his boarding room and begins typing messages from the future, down-on-his-luck Steve Temple thinks that it must be his old jokester friend Harry—but he’s wrong about that, and the fate of the world 500 years down the line now depends on what Steve does about the upcoming election.

“Tomorrow and Tomorrow” doesn’t have the notority of that other Bradbury story about time travel and an elected official, but even though this one’s riddled with ridiculous ideas on time, it does accurately predict text messaging! [Apr 2012]

 Sorry. Not Harry. Name is Ellen Abbot. Female. 26 years old. Year 2442. Five feet ten inches tall. Blonde hair, blue eyes—semantician and dimentional research expert. Sorry. Not Harry. 


“Errand Boy”
by William Tenn
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1947
When invention mogul Malcolm Blyn spots an unusual can of paint that a young boy brings to his factory, he begins to wonder whether it came from the future and what else the future may hold. [Apr 2012]

 I hand him an empty can and say I want it filled with green paint—it should have orange polka dots. 


“Meddler’s Moon”
by George O. Smith
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1947
Joseph Hedgerly travels back in time some 60 years to ensure that his grandfather marries the right woman. [Mar 2012]

 Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan. If our lives are written in the Book of Acts, then no effort is worth the candle. For there will be those who will eternally strive to be good and yet shall fail. There will be others who care not nor strive not and yet will thrive. Why? Only because it is so written. And by whom? By the omnipotent God. Who, my friends, has then written into our lives both the good and the evil that we do ourselves! He moves us as pawns, directs us to strive against odds, yet knows that we must fail, because he planned it that way. 




DC Funny Comics
First time travel: All Funny Comics 20, Nov 1947
It seems that everyone in the DC stable wanted to get in on the road to time travel including the earliest that I’ve found so far in the Nov 1947 issue of All Funny Comics. Later, there were Bob Hope (in Bob Hope 43) and Jerry Lewis (in Jerry Lewis 43 and 54). In Bob’s story, he gets sent into the future by Carolyn Spooner. It also had a cover with Bob as a caveman. As I find others, I’ll list them in my time-travel comic books page. [Jun 2012]

 This can’t be the stone age!—I’m just putty in the hands of a girl like you! 
—from the cover of Bob Hope 43


Brick Bradford Movie Serial
by George Plympton, Arthur Hoerl and Lewis Clay
First release: 18 Dec 1947


In fifteen episodes, Brick travels to the moon to protect a rocket interceptor while his pals take the time top to the 18th century to find a critical hidden formula. [Dec 2010]

 Maybe tomorrow you’ll be visiting your great, great grandmother. 


“Me, Myself and I”
by William Tenn
First publication: Planet Stories, Winter 1947

As an experiment, a scientist sends unemployed strongman Cartney back 110 million years to make a small change. He makes this first change, which changes things in the present, and then he must go back again and again, whereupon he meets himself and him.

I keep finding earlier and earlier stories with the idea of destroying mankind by squishing a bug, and I am wondering whether this is the earliest linchpin bug (although that doesn’t actually happen here). [Jan 2012]

 Maybe tomorrow you’ll be visiting your great, great grandmother. 


“The Monster”
aka "The Brighton Monster"
by Gerald Kersh
First publication: Saturday Evening Post, 21 Feb 1948
In April of 1947, a man makes a connection between a tattooed Japanese man and a monster that washed up in Brighton two centuries earlier. [Jan 2014]

 I should never have taken the trouble to pocket his Account of a Strange Monster Captured Near Brighthelmstone in the County of Sussex on August 6th in the Year of Our Lord 1745. 




The Thiotimoline Stories
by Isaac Asimov
First story: Astounding Science Fiction, Mar 1948

I don’t know if this is time travel or not, but it certainly violates causality when the time for thiotimoline to dissolve in water is minus 1.12 seconds. [Apr 2012]
 TitlePublication 
“The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline”Astounding, Mar 1948
“The Micropsychiatric Properties of Thiotimoline”Astounding, Dec 1953
“Thiotimoline and the Space Age”Analog, Oct 1960
“Thiotimoline to the Stars”Analog, Nov 1973
“Antithiotimoline”Analog, Dec 1977

 Mr. Asimov, tell us something about the thermodynamic properties of the compound thiotimoline. 
—Professor Ralph S. Halford to Asimov at the conclusion of his Ph.D. oral exam on May 20, 1948.


“Time Trap”
by Charles Harness
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Aug 1948
The story presents a fixed series of events, which includes a man disappearing at one point in the future and (from his point of view) reappearing at the start of the story to then interact with himself, his own wife, and the evil alien.

It’s nice that there’s no talk of the universe exploding when he meets himself, but even so, the story suffers from a murkiness that is often part of time-travel stories that are otherwise enjoyable. The murkiness stems from two points: (1) That somehow the events are repeating over and over again—but from whose viewpoint? (2) The events are deterministic and must be acted out exactly the same each time. I enjoy clever stories that espouse the viewpoint of the second item (“By His Bootstraps”). But this does not play well with the first item, and (as with many stories), Harness did not address that conflict nor the consequent issue of free will. Still, I enjoyed the story and wish I’d met Harness when I traveled to Penn State University in the spring of 1982. [Jul 2011]

 But searching down time, Troy-Poole now found only the old combination of Troy and Poole he knew so well. Hundreds, thousands, millions of them, each preceding the other. As far back as he could sense, there was always a Poole hovering over a Troy. Now he would become the next Poole, enmesh the next Troy in the web of time, and go his own way to bloody death. 


“The Brooklyn Project”
by William Tenn
First publication: Planet Stories, Fall 1948

So far, this is the earliest story I’ve read with the thought that a miniscule change in the past can cause major changes to our time. The setting is a press conference where the Secretary of Security presents the time-travel device to twelve reporters. [Jul 2011]

 ...shifting a molecule of hydrogen that in our past really was never shifted. 


ACG Anthoology Comics
founded by Benjamin W. Sangor
First time travel: Adventures into the Unknown 4, Apr 1949

ACG had a handful of weird story comic books including Adventures into the Unknown, Forbidden Worlds and Forbidden Worlds. I picked up a few of these at garage sales as a kid, but never really got into them. The earliest time travel that I’ve found so far was a story called “Back to Yesterday” in Adventures into the Unknown 4. Some of the issues are now available on google books. [Jun 1965]

 It’s supposed to work by producing a displacement in the hyper-temporal field by means of a powerful mesotronic stasis of the continuum—and anyone near the machine’s field will immediately be projected into the future! 
——Hugh Martinson in “Adventure into the Future”


Mighty Mouse Comics
First time travel: Mighty Mouse 11, Jun 1949

Surely Mighty Mouse time traveled in his comics many times, but the one that I ran across in the Michgan State University library records is a 2-page text piece called “The Time Machine”in #11. I haven’t read it, so I can’t say whether it’s fiction or perhaps something on H.G. Wells’s story.

The mouse did save the day himself via time travel in 1961 (Mighty Mouse 152). As I find other instances, I’ll add them to my time-travel comics page.

What Mad Universe
by Fredric Brown
First publication: Oct 1949

Suppose that a novel has no time travel, but when the hero, Keith Winton, is blown into parallel universe (replete with alien invaders, a bigger-than-life hero, and scantily clad spacefaring women), the only way he can make a living is writing a time-travel story. Do I include the novel in my list? Normally, no—but this is Fredric Brown! [Nov 2012]

 It was a time-travel story about a man who went back to prehistoric times—told from the point of view of the cave man who encountered the time traveler. 


82 items are in the time-travel list for these years.
Thanks for visiting my time-travel page, and thanks to the many sources that provided stories and more (see the Links and Credits in the menu at the top). —Michael (
main@colorado.edu)