Time travel in fiction

Poster for the 1960 film adaptation of H. G. Wells' 1895 novella The Time Machine

Time travel is a common theme in fiction, mainly since the late 19th century, and has been depicted in a variety of media, such as literature, television, film, and advertisements.[1][2]

The concept of time travel by mechanical means was popularized in H. G. Wells' 1895 story, The Time Machine.[3][4] In general, time travel stories focus on the consequences of traveling into the past or the future.[3][5][6] The central premise for these stories often involves changing history, either intentionally or by accident, and the ways by which altering the past changes the future and creates an altered present or future for the time traveler upon their return home.[3][6] In other instances, the premise is that the past cannot be changed or that the future is predetermined, and the protagonist's actions turn out to be either inconsequential or intrinsic to events as they originally unfolded.[7] Some stories focus solely on the paradoxes and alternate timelines that come with time travel, rather than time traveling itself.[5] They often provide some sort of social commentary, as time travel provides a "necessary distancing effect" that allows science fiction to address contemporary issues in metaphorical ways.[8]

  1. ^ Nahin, Paul J. (1999). Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction (2nd ed.). New York: Springer. ISBN 978-0-387985718.
  2. ^ Nahin, Paul J. (2011). Time Travel: A Writer's Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. ix. ISBN 9781421401201.
  3. ^ a b c Sterling, Bruce (3 May 2016). "Science fiction - Time travel". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  4. ^ Kuiper, Kathleen (2012). Prose: Literary Terms and Concepts (1st ed.). New York: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. pp. 63–64. ISBN 9781615304943.
  5. ^ a b Sterling, Bruce (3 May 2016). "Science fiction - Time travel". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b Flood, Alison (23 September 2011). "Time travel in fiction: why authors return to it time and time again". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  7. ^ charliejane (31 January 2008). "Can You Escape Your Fate? Science Fiction Has The Answer!". io9. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  8. ^ Redmond, Sean (2014). Liquid Metal: the Science Fiction Film Reader. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-231501842. Retrieved 30 September 2015. [...] the time travel motif also has an ideological function because it literally provides the necessary distancing effect that science fiction needs to be able to metaphorically address the most pressing issues and themes that concern people in the present.