How Many Methods of Time Travel are there in Science Fiction?
Time travel is science fiction's most popular premise. How many ways are there to travel back in time in popular media? Home
First means of traveling back in time is the time storm as represented perfectly in the movie, "The Final Countdown" A favorite movie of mine, "The Final Countdown" explores what happens when aircraft carrier ship in 1980 travels through a time storm and ends up face to face with the events of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet, again, the lesson is that history cannot be changed.
Then there's the ever popular holes in time. For instance a person might just walk over a hill and find themselves in their future like in the Twilight Zone episode, A Hundred Yards Over the Rim" where actor Cliff Robertson played a pioneer taking his family across the desert in a wagon, only to find himself in his future, the present. Twilight Zone was awesome in that it didn't always offer a definitive means of time travel other than just walking out a door like in the episode, "Back There" where Peter Corrigan (Russell Johnson) travels back to the day Abraham Lincoln was shot, only to discover that only the smaller unimportant events of history can be changed. The question to this day remains, did Corrigan walk through a hole in time, or was it something supernatural?
Of course the Twilight Zone also had it's time machines that were fashioned as you might expect in the late '50's early '60's. Time machines in the early days tended to have a lot of flashing lights and either be just big enough to sit in or take up a huge amount of space. Most people probably imagine something like H.G. Wells' time machine, from movies and TV shows. It's a sort antique looking convertible with levers and spinning gizmos.
Of course, if you want to travel in style, there's always Doc Brown's time traveling DeLorean from Back to the Future. That model looked like a time machine before the movie was ever filmed. The way its doors opened always reminded me of a UFO.
Of course, another popular means of traveling through time is the starship. How many times did Picard or Captain Kirk travel backward or forward in time using the Starship Enterprise? Traveling through space as an astronaut didn't go so well, for Charles Heston as George Taylor who landed in a future controlled by talking apes, in the Planet of the Apes film.
Magic is another popular means of time travel. Remember the times Samantha from Bewitched traveled backward in time or Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie?
The TV Show, The Time Tunnel utilized a huge tunnel machine in an underground military installation. Two scientists go through and find themselves lost in time in various events in history such as the sinking of the Titanic and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Bill and Ted from the '80's rocked the phone booth as a time travel device. It brings to mind Doctor Who's TARDIS.
We can't forget the Quantum Leap Accelerator that Sam Beckett used on the TV series Quantum Leap. The unfortunate issue with this particular time travel apparatus was that you can only travel backward in times you actually live through, and you had to inhabit the bodies of people that actually existed in that time period. Another unfortunate consequence of the Accelerator was that Beckett was trapped in time leaping from life to life.
One unfortunate consequence of the time machines used in the Terminator series is that you can't bring clothes with you. Only organic material goes through.
In my short story book, "Sci-Fi with a Twist" most of my stories involve time travel or at least some element of time travel.
1. So this is the End - An astronaut from the 1960's wakes up in a strange future in a deserted laboratory and falls in love with a beautiful lady astronaut from the future, kept there captive by unknown entities. Can they discover where they are and when? Are they the last remnants of humanity left? In this story I explored what happens when you take a man from the '60's and introduce him to a beautiful woman from the distant future.
2. The Robber - An old thief goes back in time to finally obtain his much sought after big score, only to discover a family secret that could have changed his life altogether.
3. The Search for Heaven - Somewhere in outer space in an unknown time, a man named Noah searches for Heaven through a worm hole and finds the unexpected.
4. The Fastest Gun Alive -
A writer finds himself in his own story as his own wild west
character. Can he survive long enough to get back home?
5. The Cave - A teenager enters a
cave and emerges decades earlier running into his younger father
living in the 1980's.
6. The End of Time - A group of
time travelers save Abraham Lincoln, but at what cost?
8. Missing - A man's daughter
disappears mysteriously into thin air. Where and when will he ever
find her again?
9. By the Grace of God - A home inspector has his average life turned upside down. It all starts with a seriously strange unheeded premonition.
10. From My Cold Dead Hands - A
hit man has one last chance at redemption before it's too late for
11. Invasion from Outer Space - A group of teens in the 1950's witness what appears to be an alien invasion, but what is really happening will change their lives forever.
Can't forget the comics. Growing up comic books taught me how to read. In the comic world superheroes don't necessarily need a machine to travel through time. All they have to do is travel really fast, faster than the speed of light. Superman and the Flash are two characters that come to mind. These two routinely traversed through time and space. The only hard rule for their travels were that if you traveled back to a time you already existed, you would become a phantom and would be only able to observe, not interact with others. As soon as you sped back to your own time, you would return to your normal tangible self.
Even Spider-Man made his way through time using Doctor Doom's time machine back in the 70's. For more info check out this great site on Spider-Man's Time Travel Adventure.
The ability to travel through time in media is only limited by our imaginations. So have fun. Just be careful where you step out there.