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Time-slip novels. What's good?


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Showing 26-50 of 107 posts in this discussion
Posted on 10 Jan 2010 22:57:46 GMT
A classic Time-Slip from the 70s: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Rather like the Time Traveler's Wife model of time slip, but in a wartime setting.

Posted on 11 Jan 2010 10:22:30 GMT
Ms. J. Hazel says:
The Time Quake trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer, starting with Gideon the Cutpurse, will transport you back to 18th century London - great stuff!

Posted on 11 Jan 2010 15:17:34 GMT
Tony Kerr says:
Super Maxwell And The Burning Boys
The first 3rd of my new children's book, Super Maxwell and the Burning Boys (part 1- The End of Time) see the protagonists trapped in the same day repeated over and over again...

Posted on 11 Jan 2010 16:41:13 GMT
J P Writer says:
I Completely agree with Florian Rousseau, Replay by Ken Grimwood is awesome, apparently the inspiration behind the movie Groundhog Day.

Posted on 11 Jan 2010 19:56:33 GMT
C. Bannister says:
Shadow Baby I too enjoyed the House at Riverton and Forgotton Garden by Kate Morton. If you enjoyed these I think you'd love Shadow Baby by Margret Forster, two stories entwined

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jan 2010 20:14:57 GMT
Loupop says:
Green Darkness - Anya Seton

The Lake of Dead Languages - Carol Goodman

The Eyes of the Amaryllis - Natalie Babbit (technically a children's book but a fabulous quick read)

Posted on 11 Jan 2010 22:46:11 GMT
TJ says:
i'd suggest Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle - parallel past and present storylines...i was left scratching my head over what was going on until very near the end!

Posted on 12 Jan 2010 11:41:28 GMT
Ms. K. Casey says:
I too will recommend 'Replay' by Ken Grimwood. It's my second favourite time-travel book.

However, my absolute favourite (and I can't believe no-one has mentioned it yet) is 'Kindred' by Octavia E. Butler. It follows a modern African American woman who is transported into the past, where she experiences what it was like to live in slavery-era America. This book is incredible and everyone I have lent it to is astonished and moved by it.

Posted on 12 Jan 2010 20:42:16 GMT
LOTHAR says:
Check out Slaughterhouse 5 and Timequake, by the inimitable Kurt Vonnegut, as well as Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock. Brilliant.

Posted on 24 Jan 2010 18:12:16 GMT
Archy says:
Replay by Ken Grimwood. Man has heart attack and dies, only to wake up as his seventeen year old self, with all his knowledge intact. Proceeds to live his life again, with foreknowledge of what will happen, including game winners to make him a millionaire. Great book, lots of unpredictable twists.

Posted on 24 Jan 2010 21:23:48 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jan 2010 02:41:36 GMT
P says:
If you are interested in time slip and the Cathars, you might like a series of books by Stuart Gordon, collectively known as "The Watchers"; they are (in order) Archon, The Hidden World and The Mask. Not even their best friends would call them an easy read, but they are densely plotted and very imaginative in their world creation - he's really done his homework, and writes powerful and convincing narratives.

My own first exposure to timeslip fiction was a children's story by Alison Uttley called "A Traveller in Time", about a girl who finds herself moving between a house where she's staying in the twentieth century and the same house in Elizabethan times. There the inhabitants of the house are caught up in a plot to free Mary Queen of Scots, but the time traveller knows that Mary was executed, along those involved in the plot.

Another classic children's timeslip story is "Tom's Midnight Garden" by Penelope Lively. Here Tom is sent to stay with an uncle and aunt and finds that at night a door in the house opens into a garden which in his own time does not exist any more. In the 19th century, he meets Hattie. There are many people who still think of children's literature as necessarily inferior to adult fiction, but both of these books are worth the attention of anyone who enjoys timeslip fiction, and can manage without sex and violence.

There's also a Young Adult novel called "Robinsheugh" by Eileen Dunlop, about a teenager who's restless, dis-satisfied and (I speak as a parent!) a royal pain. She goes to stay with her aunt who is working on the papers of a Scots family and - well, you can guess the rest.

Incidentally "Possession" (recommended by a previous poster) is NOT a timeslip novel. It tells two stories in parallel, one about two fictional nineteenth-century authors (their works, but not their lives, loosely modelled on Robert Browning and Christina Rossetti) and two twentieth-century scholars studying said authors. It's a fine, fine book, (it took the Booker prize that year) but has no supernatural element.

I make a distinction between time travel and timeslip novels. In the case of time travel novels (like Robert Silverberg's Up the Line, recommended earlier) the travelling is an important part of the story - the mechanics, the implications of time travel paradoxes etc and often involve travel to different times and places. They also often involve the time travel as being mechanical and volitional - the protagonists can choose whether or not to travel (if not always where/when to go) They belong to the world of Science Fiction.

Timeslip novels usually have an unexplained or half-explained mechanism, usually take the protagonist between just two "temporal locations" and is concerned mainly with the relationships (often romantic, or at least sympathetic) between people from two different times. Multiple time-travels are usually between the same two time/places and often involve the attempt to avert some disaster known to the time traveller, but not to the others. There is also the tension in that the reader knows that any relationship is likely to be doomed, since there is always the implicit (or explicit) threat that the timeslip which has brought the two together will eventually tear them apart. Will he/she wake up/walk through the door and find his/her true love/great teacher is now 80 years in the past? There is also sometimes the possibility that they are been duped, or just dreaming and it's not real at all.

Will that do to be getting on with?

For me the classic in the timeslip genre (which incidentally pre-dates "The Eight", which was NOT the first of this type by a long chalk), is the novel which was originally called "Bid Time Return", but was later called "Lost in Time" to match the movie title (it starred Christopher Reeve as a man who goes back to the 1920s). The original book was by Richard Mattheson. The distinction here is that the man wills himself back in time to meet a woman. It's well written, and does not suffer from the elephantiasis which afflicts some more recent books. If you like a romantic element, then this comes recommended.

I'll endorse the recommendation of Connie Willis book, "To Say Nothing of the Dog." The time travel there is of the SF variety - carefully thought through and presented as a process which the protagonist can go through at will (administrators and budgets permitting!) using machinery. The bulk of the action takes place in an England which is clear evocation of a literary England made up from "Three Men in a Boat", "Zuleika Dobson", Bulldog Drummond and much other fiction of that period and as well as being a rattling good story is a very funny pastiche as well.

If you like military fiction, then you might enjoy "The Misplaced Legion" by Harry Turtledove and several sequels. It's not really timeslip, as it takes an entire Roman Legion and "slips" them (via shamanistic magic) into a parallel fantasy world of Videssos. Fun, if you like that sort of thing.

There are also many good science fiction short stories involving time travel - including the splendid "Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne" by R A Lafferty, which revels in the contradictions involved.

And, of course, you can always look for the DVDs of "Goodnight Sweetheart."

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2010 22:01:36 GMT
eddie says:
Had forgotten how enjoyable that book was, has he ever done anything as good since? I did try one or two others by Tim Powers but could not really get into them. Have juyst re-read Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky, which although not striclty time slip, has elements of this in it and is well worth the read.

Posted on 25 Jan 2010 21:04:47 GMT
Anne Moore says:
'Mariana' and 'the winter sea' (also known as 'Sophia's secret') both by Susanna Kearsley (actually all her books are great), 'the house on the Strand' by Daphne Du maurier, 'The accidental time traveller' by Sharron Griffiths (I think), 'Time line' by Michal Crichton (just don't watch the film!!), 'A traveller in time' Alison Uttley and "Tom's Midnight Garden' by Philippa Pearce (the last 2 are kids books, but still good)

Posted on 25 Jan 2010 23:26:05 GMT
I've got People of the Book as it sounded an intriguing story but I've not got round to reading it yet. There are some great recommendations on this list. I liked Labyrinthe. And I also enjoyed Codex but somebody I lent it to didn't think it was that good.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Feb 2010 16:55:26 GMT
An excellent tome slip novel is The Alchemist's Apprentice by Jeremy Dronfield. He's hugely underrated. Another of his books that swaps to and fro between past and present is Resurrecting Salvador. Thoroughly recommend both.

Posted on 16 Jul 2010 19:32:37 BDT
Adam Sayers says:
Dusty's Fort is a book about a boy and his mates who go back in time to 1944 and end up in a B-17 over Europe. This is only part of the story, it also goes through Medieval and Victorian time threads. Quite funny as well, I enjoyed it.

Posted on 16 Jul 2010 19:55:41 BDT
Elizabeth Harris (I think) wrote 'The Herb Gatherers' which is a time slip book, she also wrote others. There is also the book 'A Wheel of Stars' which is time slip about the cathars, sorry I can't remember the author.

Posted on 17 Jul 2010 19:52:31 BDT
Ian Bertram says:
'Bring the Jubilee' by Ward Moore

Posted on 17 Jul 2010 21:02:41 BDT
Contessa67 says:
Connie Willis's Doomsday Book and Crichton's Timeline, definitely! Both have a wonderful sense of how the past may not be what we think it was...

Posted on 26 Aug 2010 11:17:49 BDT
Help please! I am looking for a book I read recently that was a time travel book set in England during the Second World War. The main characters were university students travelling back to London during the blitz. My frustration reading it was coming to the end and finding it was only part one and there was a sequel that was due to be published (I think) in July 2010. But now I have forgotten the author and the name of the book(s).

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Aug 2010 13:40:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2011 14:45:13 BDT
Norm Deplume says:
@Aussie Louise
Your book sounds like Blackout by Connie Willis. The sequel is All Clear. I am waiting for the latter before starting the former.

Another couple of timeslip novels:

Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett
Lest Darkness Fall by L Sprague de Camp

Posted on 5 Sep 2010 18:55:00 BDT
J D says:
I enjoy Barbara Erskines books which have a historical setting and where the characters from the past and the people in the present have a link.
As a child I loved the Green Knowe stories with similar ideas of past and present meeting.

Posted on 6 Sep 2010 20:59:22 BDT
Someone above has already mentioned Barbara Erskine. Did you know she had great difficulty getting her first novel, Lady of Hay accepted by a publisher?

Posted on 6 Sep 2010 21:49:32 BDT
Moominmamma says:
Dont forget 'A christmas carol'.
I love well written science fiction and 'Woman on the Edge of Time' by Marge Piercy is part timeslip part SF when a poor woman who ends up on a ward for mentally ill people is 'taken out' of her situation by a traveller from the future. The book travels between the two worlds. Its many many years since I read this but feel a re-read coming on....

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Sep 2010 11:56:30 BDT
Was Lady of Hay a time slip novel too? Was there a particular reason why she had problems getting it accepted?
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Participants:  75
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Initial post:  3 Jan 2010
Latest post:  15 May 2014

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