Spring Forward, Fall Back ed. Todd Sanders (Air & Nothingness Press, 2022) Two collections of time-travel short stories presented back-to-back in the style of the old Ace Double SF books. The tales in question are rich conceptually and soaked with atmosphere, bringing unique imaginative twists to a well-worn genre. A trove of all-new nostalgia.
The Time Travel Diaries by Caroline Lawrence (Piccadilly, 2019); audiobook read by Simon Scardifield (Bonnier, 2019) Solid MG adventure grounded in historical fact. Sometimes the story feels less like fiction and more like a construct through which to impart knowledge about Roman Britain, but Alex is a level-headed protagonist and Dinu and Plecta add some heart to proceedings.
Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 1996); audiobook read by Richard Mitchley (BBC Audiobooks, 1997) Pratchett gifts middle-grade readers the perfect introduction to time travel, albeit that his mid-1990s ‘now’ is itself receding into history, in rapid pursuit of the Second World War ‘then’. Thought-provoking and wryly funny, with memorable characters and a rich vein of dialogue. …
Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence (47North, 2019); audiobook read by Matthew Frow (Brilliance, 2019) Lawrence restarts the time-travel story of One Word Kill, thus bringing to life a new iteration of twisty paradoxes. The narrative voice is just as engaging and the plot is cleverly stitched but it’s still more a reimagining than a new work.
Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (Accent, 2013); audiobook read by Zara Ramm (Bolinda, 2014) Taylor’s first-person narrative voice is good-humoured and enjoyably raffish. Max and St Mary’s have real personality. However, the plot reeks faintly of extemporisation and the character foreshadowing is often rather overt. Clumsy word juxtapositions detract from the prose, leaving a pulpy impression.…
One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence (47North, 2019) audiobook read by Matthew Frow (Brilliance, 2019) Lawrence makes good use of the 1980s setting and constructs a well-paced, not-too-unbelievable plot around the speculative element (time travel). The book’s main appeal, though, is its quintet of idiosyncratic but down-to-earth characters. These are particularly well-served by Matthew Frow’s audiobook reading.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (Canongate, 2017); audiobook read by Mark Meadows (Clipper, 2017) The jumping about throughout history is all fine and dandy—Haig does setting well—but the protagonist verges on insipid and so the journey, though pleasant enough, becomes an unremarkable trundle towards an underwhelming destination (despite the female characters offering some spark).
Your Name dir. Makoto Shinkai (CoMix Wave Films, 2016) [Japanese; available dubbed or with subtitles] A sharply cut anime SF feature film, combining an eerie sense of mystery with poignant love story and abstruse time travel paradox (by way of body-swapping). Writer-director Makoto Shinkai makes clever use of minor characters and takes the story in unexpected directions.
The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer (Puffin, 2013); audiobook read by Maxwell Caulfield (Brilliance Audio, 2013) Colfer is a dab hand at characterisation—be it his protagonists, bit players or villains—and Caulfield’s narration gives distinct voice to each. The time travel story (lively if somewhat extemporised) sees teens on the run in both modern and Victorian London.
Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park (Thomas Nelson, 1980); audiobook read by Kate Hood (Bolinda, 2012) Ruth Park mixes time displacement with coming-of-age in a classic of Australian literature. 14-year-old Abigail Kirk, having fought with her mother, finds herself transported back to Sydney of 1873. Amidst the historical realism unfolds a beautifully told tale of hardship and self-discovery.