The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 1941

   “The Mechanical Mice”
by Eric Frank Russell
First publication: Astounding, 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.

 I pinched the idea. What makes it madder is that I wasnt quite sure of what I was stealing, and, crazier still, I dont know from whence I stole it. 

[Apr 2012]

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

 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? 

[Mar 2012]

The story was reprinted in the 1949 Winter issue of the UK Unknown.   “The Crossroads”
by L. Ron Hubbard
First publication: Unknown, Feb 1942

When the guvvermunt wants to pay depression-era farmer Eben Smith to plow his crops under, he has a different idea: take his goods to the city where he can barter them for wealth. But on the way, Eben and his trusty horse Lucy encounter an odd intersection of four roads, each with a people from a different disturbing future.

 Then an oddity struck Eben. For the past few minutes that he had been on this intersection the sun had been at high noon! He put his tumb in his eye and peered at it accusingly and then because it was quite definitely the sun and obviously there, he shook his head and muttered:
“Never can tell what the goldurned guvvermunt is going to do next!”
 

[Feb 2016]

   “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.

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

[Nov 2013]

   “Poker Face”
by Theodore Sturgeon
First publication: Astounding, 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?

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

[Jul 2001]

   “Not the First”
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding, Apr 1941

As Earth’s first starship passes the light-speed barrier, strange things happen to its acceleration—and to the passage of time.

 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. 

[Dec 2010]

   “Don’t Be a Goose”
aka “The Hero Equation”
by Robert Arthur, Jr.
First publication: Argosy, 3 May 1941
Reprinted in: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Jun 1959

In the third of Murchison Morks’ tall tales at the gentlemen’s club, he tells of mathematics professor Alexander Peabody who discovers an equation that, if concentrated upon firmly, projects him back into the body of a goose at the time of a Celtic attack on Rome.

 He was sure it would work. But when he confided his dreams to his sister Martha, she, woman-like, merely sniffed. She called him a goose. 

[Jun 2016]

   “Time Wants a Skeleton”
by Ross Rocklynne
First publication: Astounding, 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.

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

[Dec 2011]

   “Yesterday Was Monday”
by Theodore Sturgeon
First publication: Unknown, 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.

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

[Jul 2001]

   “I Killed Hitler”
by Ralph Milne Farley
First publication: Weird Tales, Jul 1941

This story does get bonus points for being the earliest kill-hitler time-travel story that I know of (and for predicting Pearl Harbor), but I didn’t fully follow the ending (after the killing) of this story where a distant cousin to the great dictator goes back to 1899 to gain the trust of the boy he knows will grow up to cruelly rule Europe.

 “You think so?” The Swami shook his head. “Ah, no. For it is written that there must be a Dictator—not only a Dictator, but this particular Dictator”to rule over docile Europe, and plunge the world in war.” 

[Feb 2015]

The story also appeared in this 2000 collection.   “The Probable Man”
by Alfred Bester
First publication: Astounding, 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.

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

[Jan 2012]

   “Sidetrack in Time”
by William P. McGivern
First publication: Amazing, 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 professor also got rid of any chance more than half a star in my rating.

 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. 

[Apr 2014]



   The Weapon Shop Stories
by A.E. van Vogt
First story: Astounding, 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.
  1. The Seesaw (Jul 1941) Astounding
  2. The Weapon Shops (Dec 1942) Astounding
  3. The Weapon Makers (Feb-Apr 1943) Astounding
  4. The Weapon Shops of Isher (Feb 1949) Thrilling Wonder Stories

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

[Jul 1969]

   “Backlash”
by Jack Williamson
First publication: Astounding, 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.

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

[Dec 2011]

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, Sep 1941

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

 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 dont have your eyes so fixed on the road that you miss the short cut. 

[Feb 1980]

   “The Man Who Saw Through Time”
by Leonard Raphael
First publication: Fantastic Adventures, Sep 1941

Walter Yale and his best friend Gary Fraxer build a time machine in the desert. Fraxer wins the right to use it first, but when he returns from the future, hes intent on killing Yale.

 They had wanted a place where no one would disturb them. So they had come out here and pretended to be doing astronomical observations. Actually, they were perfecting a time machine. 

[Sep 2015]

Asimov’s “Nightfall” also appeared in this issue.   “Short-Circuited Probability”
by Norman L. Knight
First publication: Astounding, 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.

 This is a story of something that did—or didnt—happen. Question is, can it be properly said that it did or did not? 

—Campbell’s introduction to the story

[Dec 2010]

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

 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 didnt remember the script, there were some things that he knew “Joe” hadnt 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— 

[Dec 1974]

   “Flame for the Future”
by William P. McGivern
First publication: Amazing, Oct 1941

In 1990 with worldwide war still underway, a Hitleresque Leader sends two lieutenants into the future to recruit soldiers from the super race that he is creating, but the lieutenants seem to find only a barren Earth where they discuss the situation and smoke their cigarettes.

 “The object before you is a Time Machine,” he said with repressed pride. “The result of our Ingenuity and skill. With it we will draw new support to our Cause. Two of my most trusted Lieutenants are to travel into the future to enlist the aid of the races which will be created by us.” 

[Sep 2015]

   “Bandits of Time”
by Ray Cummings
First publication: Amazing, Dec 1941

Bob Manse and his fiancée Doris are invited by a peculiar man calling himself Tork to a cult-like meeting at 3 A.M. where, says Tork, they will be taken to a New Era in the future with no troubles, no worries, no problems giving eyesight to the blind-from-birth Doris—and no problems kidnapping Doris whether she wants to go or not.

 Three A.M. A distant church spire in the city behind us boomed the hour, floating here on the heavy night-air. Abruptly figures were around us in the woods; arriving me. A man carrying the limp form of a girl. From the ship a tiny beam of white light struck on them. Tork! I recognized him. But more than that Blake and I both recognized the unconscious, inert girl. So great a horror swept me that for a second the weird scene blurred before me. 

[Aug 2015]

   “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.

 Then as soon as I release you from that pentacle, youre to bring me tomorrows newspaper. 

[Jan 2013]
 

Additional Adventures (without Time Travel)

I often see potential time-travel stories that, alas, have no time travel. I track them, so that I don’t process these same chronotypical stories over and over in a time loop of my very own.
1941

 These arent the droids youre looking for . . . move along. 


 1941
“—And He Built a Crooked House” by Robert A. Heinlein [4D spacial topology]

“Borrowed Glory” by L. Ron Hubbard [fountain of youth]

“Dead End” by Malcolm Jameson [viewing the past]

“The Fountain” by Nelson S. Bond [fountain of youth]

“El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan” by Jorge Luís Borges [alternate timelines]
                aka “The Garden of Forking Paths”

Tumbledown Ranch in Arizona by Milton Raison [just a dream]

Methuselah's Children by Robert A. Heinlein [prequel]


28 items are in the time-travel list for these search settings.
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)