The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 1994

   “Another Story or
a Fisherman of the Inland Sea”

by Ursula K. Le Guin
First publication: A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (1994)

At 18, Hideo leaves his family and his planet, O, to become part of a group that invents instantaneous tranportation—a device that ends up taking him back to the time that he first left Planet O

 So: once upon a time when I was twenty-one years old I left my home and came on the NAFAL ship Terraces of Darranda to study at the Ekumenical Schools on Hain. 

[Jul 2011]

   “Women on the Brink of a Cataclysm”
by Molly Brown
First publication: Interzone, Jan 1994

Joanna, a successful sculptor in New York, agrees to be the traveler for her friend Toni’s time machine, but what neither of them knows is that any travel backward in time will start an avalanche of various artist Joannas going back and forth between alternate universes.

 “Even if youve found a way, Im not going back,” she said. “No way am I going back. Ever. This is my life now, my world, and I like it. Though . . .” She paused a moment, and her face—my face—crumpled into a mass of lines. Oh God, I thought, I dont look as old as her, do I? She blinked hard, several times, as if she was trying not to cry. “Hows Katie? Is she all right?” 

[Jul 2015]

   “The Tourist”
by Paul Park
First publication: Interzone, Feb 1994

Once the time-travel tourist business gets going, there’s no stopping it, not to mention all those travelers who feel they have business with Hitler or Stalin—which brings about an interesting theory of time not being a continuum at all, all told through the personal lens of one recently divorced man who buys a ticket for Paleolithic Spain and sets out after his ex-wife.

 We just cant keep our hands off, and as a result, Cuba has invaded prehistoric Texas, the Empire of Ashok has become a Chinese client state, and Napoleon is in some kind of indirect communication with Genghis Khan. 

[Apr 2014]

   The Quantum Physics of Time Travel
by David Deutsch and Michael Lockwood
First publication: Scientific American, Mar 1994

I propose that all writers of time travel fiction should be required to read certain articles, and this is the first. Deutsch and Lockwood do an admirable job of describing the well-known Grandfather Paradox and the lesser known paradox of the causal loop (in which, for example, an art critic brings a book of famous paintings back to the artist before the time when the paintings were painted, and this book then inspires those very paintings, leaving the question of who created the paintings).

The article then tries to unwind these paradoxes in classical physics, where there is but one universe. In this universe, a time traveler who returns to the past can do nothing except that which was already done. For example, the traveler simply cannot kill his or her own grandfather before Grandpa meets Grandma because we know (by the birth of the traveler) that that didn’t happen. So, something in the universe must stop the murder. Things must happen as they happened.

But, say Deutsch and Lockwood, this conspiracy of the universe to preserve consistency violates the Autonomy Principle, according to which “it is possible to create in our immediate environment any configuration of matter that the laws of physics permit locally, without reference to what the rest of the universe may be doing.” In other words, if it’s physically possible for the traveler to point a gun at Grandpa, then the fact that elsewhen in the universe Grandpa must knock up Grandma cannot interfere with the traveler’s ability to pull the trigger.

Deutsch and Lockwood use the Autonomy Principle to reject something, but it’s classical physics they reject, not time travel. In a similar way, for stories that rely on a Causal Loop Paradox, Deutsch and Lockwood ask: Just where did the original idea of the paintings come from? They reject that the paintings might have come from nowhere (TANSTAAFL!), and again they reject classical physics.

Personally, I hope that time travel writers don’t fully embrace the Autonomy Principle and TANSTAAFL, because I want more wonderful stories where, in fact, there is but one history of events, the future and past may both be fixed, free will is an illusion, and free lunches exist. Hooray for “—All You Zombies—”!

But with classical physics banned, what else is there? Deutsch and Lockwood turn to Everett’s Many Worlds model wherein each collapse of the quantum wave function results in a new universe. When a time traveler goes to the past, they say, the arrival of the traveler creates a new multiverse, and this multiverse does not need to act the same as the original. Grandpa can die! The artist can be given inspiration from an artist doppleganger in the original universe!

Noteably, though, Deutsch and Lockwood never discuss how time travel might cause the same kind of universe splitting as the collapse of the wave function, but never mind. What they do discuss is how the new universe must respond to changes, and many stories where changing the past is possible fall down on this account. For example, if you change the past so that the reason for your trip to the past no longer exists, then when you return to the present you should find a new version of yourself who never considered traveling to the past. Multiverse time travelers should read this article just to understand that the present they return to may very well have another versin of themselves. Two Marty McFlies!

One final note: Of course we don’t live in a classical physics universe. That's clear from the many experiments that support quantum physics. But living in a quantum world doesn’t immediately imply Many Worlds. Could time travel exist in a single quantum universe? Or does it? For thoughts on that, check out the online “Scientific American article “Time Travel Simulation Resolves Grandfather Paradox” by Lee Billings.

 In the art critic story, quantum mechanics allows events, from the participants perspective, to occur much as Dummett describes. The universe that the critic comes from must have been one in which the artist did, eventually, learn to paint well. In that universe, the pictures were produced by creative effort, and reproductions were later taken to the past of another universe. There the paintings were Indeed plagiarized—if one can be said to plagiarize the work of another version of oneself—and the painter did get \“some- thing for nothing.” But there is no para- dox, because now the existence of the pictures was caused by genuine creative effort, albeit in another universe. 

[Aug 2013]

   Time Chasers
aka Tangents
by David Giancola (Giancola, director)
First release: 17 Mar 1994

Before watching this movie (about amateur inventor Nick Miller’s time machine in a two-prop plane and the evil corporation that tries to take it over), I never realized that the word “unwatchable” had degrees. Of course, the movie itself is unwatchable, but in a genuinely inoffensive, cultish way; the self-absorbed add-on commentary from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 hosts who presented it in 1997 on early-morning tv is categorically unwatchable.

 You brought us up here this morning to look at your—time machine?! 

[May 2013]

   Boys’ Life’s The Time Machine
adapted by Seymour Reit and Ernie Colon
First publication: Boys’ Life, Jun 1994

Nearly a century after the original publication of Wells’s tale, author Seymour Reit and artist Ernie Colon faithfully the comic book version up to date. The art was enjoyable, but to me, the traveller’s connection with Weena is downplayed in exchange for werewolfish Morlocks.

 After much study Ive discovered that we can travel through time just as we travel through space . . . 

[Jan 2016]

   Babylon 5
created by J. Michael Straczynski
First time travel: 10 Aug 1994

In the 23rd century, a space station serves as a crossroads for humans, aliens, and science fiction tropes including, of course, time travel.

I was never drawn into this program in the way I was for Next Generation, Voyager, and even DS9. I think that’s partly because of weak dialog and acting and also, for me, the cast of characters never created interrelationships that felt like a family.
  1. Babylon Squared (10 Aug 1994) Babylon 4 unstuck in time
  2. Comes the Inquisitor (25 Oct 1995) man from 1888 London
  3. War Without End (13-20 May 1996) back to Babylon 4

 This is nuts! A station doesnt just disappear and then reappear four years later like some kind of Flying Dutchman. 

—“Babylon Squared”

[Jul 2015]



   The Magic School Bus
by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
First time travel: 8 Sep 1994

In The Magic School Bus in the Time of the Dinosaurs, Miss Frizzle and her charges turn the bus into a time machine that takes them to the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous. The bus had several other adventures in time, too, although not all by Cole and Degen.
  1. Dinosaur Detectives (2002) Chapter Book 9
  2. At the First Thanksgiving by Joanna Cole
  3. Builds the Statue of Liberty by Anne Capeci
  4. Flies with Dinosaurs by Martin Schwabacher
  5. Ancient Egypt (2001) Mrs. Frizzle 1
  6. Medieval Castle (2003) Mrs. Frizzle 2
  7. Imperial China (2005) Mrs. Frizzle 3

 Class, were in the late triassic period—the time of the early dinosaurs! 

[Jun 2015]

   Timecop
by Mark Verheiden (Peter Hyams, director)
First release: 14 Sep 1994

When I was a teen, my friends and I (hi Dan and Paul) produced a fanzine called Free Fall. What’s that got to do with Timecop? For a short time, I was part of a group called APA 5, which Paul introduced me to. We would all send our fanzines to a central location, where they would be collated and the resulting giant fanzine sent back to each of us—one of whom was the eventual Hollywood writing success, Mark Verheiden. Oh, and in this movie, Time Enforcement Commission agent Van Damme goes back in time to blow lots of stuff up in hopes of saving his already-blown-up wife.

 I cant tell you anything. Hell send somebody back to wipe out my grandparents. Itll be like Ive never existed. My mother, my father, my wife, my kids, my fucking cat. 

[Sep 2012]

   The Simpsons
created by Matt Groening
First time travel: 30 Oct 1994

Homer’s first time travel was part of the fifth Halloween montage in a segment called “Time and Punishment” (aka “Homer’s Time Travel Nightmare”) where each tiny dinosaur he stomps on alters his own life. The next bit I saw was Professor Frink, who built and used the chronotrike in “Springfield Up,” attempting to tell his young self to choose a different career.
  1. Treehouse of Horror V (30 Oct 1994) Butterfly Effect spoof
  2. Springfield Up (18 Feb 2007) Frink’s chronotrike
  3. Treehouse of Horror XXIII (7 Oct 2012)    Back to the Future spoof

 Homer: [to self] Okay, dont panic! Remember the advice Dad gave you on your wedding day.
Grandpa: [in flashback] If you ever travel back in time, dont step on anything, because even the slightest change can alter the future in ways you cant imagine. 

[Oct 1994]

   Dog City
produced by Jim Henson Productions
First time travel: 12 Nov 1994

This combined animation/muppet show from Jim Hensen Productions gets an extra half star just because the main characters are all dogs, one of who explains how a time machine has completely altered Dog City in the episode “Future Schlock’ (12 Nov 1994).

 Due to the use of a time machine, events were changed in Dog City’s past, which naturally affected Dog City’s future, which was Dog City’s present, of course. 

[Jan 2014]

   A.J.’s Time Travelers
by Barry Friedman (Mike Finney, director)
First episode: 3 Dec 1984

In the four episodes of this Fox Network Saturday morning show, teenaged Commander A.J. Malloy leads a crew through horribly written educational trips through time including visits to Imhotep, Newton, Gutenberg and the Tuskegee Airmen, Salem, Santa, and more.

I wish I knew more about when this aired. The first episode was definitely “Imhotep&rdquo,; since that is where A.J. meets his crew; it might have aired as early as 3 Dec 1984.

 Having a conversation with a dog in a time machine and you think something can be impossible? 

[Jun 2016]
 


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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)