This year's One Book One Chicago asks us to "Imagine the Future." But what if we traveled back to the past instead? Would we then re-imagine the future knowing what we already know? Or would we just observe and watch things play out even though we already know the outcome?
Time travel has been a sci-fi staple for ever since H.G. Wells wrote the The Time Machine in 1895. Set in Victorian London, the story features a protagonist who builds a machine that propels him far into the future, A.D. 802,701 to be exact. But many of today's time travel novels opt to take the reader back to the past. The following are some of my favorites.
To Say Nothing of the Dog, Or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis. Inspired by Jerome K. Jerome's hilarious travel memoir, Three Men in A Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog!, this comedic novel follows a group of time-traveling historians back to 1888 England to repair the time continuum that was disrupted when another historian accidentally brought to the future an object from the past. An immediate comedy of errors soon results due to time travel lag, time slippage and the ripple effects their actions cause forward and backward in time.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O is a collaboration by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. D.O.D.O, or the Department of Diachronic Operations, is determined to bring magic back after is disappearance in 1851 due to the advent of the new technology developed during the Industrial Revolution. Doing this involves a mixture of technology and magic to make time travel possible.
The Map of Time by Spanish author Felix J. Palma is the first in a trilogy. Again we are taken back to Victorian England (a popular time-travel destination it seems) as well as far into the future, witnessing H.G. Wells himself as he investigates incidences of time travel that may threaten the existence of literary classic such as Dracula and his own novel, The Time Machine.
I could go on and on with so many more titles but, well, I just don't have the time…