The Time Machine by H.G.Wells
Published in 1865, this novel got it all started. The author coined the notion time machine by himself, which was used in modern adaptations ever since. Along with Jules Verne, Wells is the pioneer of literary fantasy. In the main storyline lies the adventure of a man from Victorian England who has managed to build a time traveling machine. He sets off nearly 800.000 years in the future, where he discovers a new world which is in permanent war, divided in two main species. The book discusses the possibility of understanding the fourth dimension – time, and mastering it too. It is playful in the meaning of human adaption to new surroundings and perspectives. There are two movie adaptations of this novel, one from 1960 and one from 2002.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s witty humour has a special trait of boldness and forwardness. It the focus of this novel lies the journey of a Yankee engineer named Hank Morgan, who travels back to the sixth century, to the court of King Arthur. Hank tries to understand Medieval times and the story implies an interesting fact: history, myth and traditional tales intertwine and we actually end up obtaining a specific, distorted knowledge of our past, that isn’t accurate. Hank tries to share his knowledge from the future and is perceived as magician. This book could be entertaining to all readers who find studying *imagological aspects interesting. French comedy movie Les Visiteurs reminds a lot of the novel’s plot.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
If you are the kind of reader who likes books that seem to rewrite the tales of history and also have a stomach for war stories, this is the right book for you. This satirical novel with elements of SF tells a great story about World War II, but using the theme of time travelling in a strangely entertaining and a slightly spooky way. In the focus of the story is a soldier named Billy Pilgrim who travels through time, re-experiencing the horrors of the war. Knowing his past and his future creates an odd mark on his present, leaving him confused, scared and disorientated. He refuses to take participation in war, which is why he is stigmatised as an ill soldier. The story shows a much deeper meaning: about paradoxes of war, dehumanisation, perspectives and madness. It shows that the horrible experience of the war never ends for the ones who survive it, but it has great consequences. Time travelling here serves to underline that fact.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Maybe you’ve seen the heartbreaking movie based on this novel, with wonderful Rachel McAdams that plays the main role as Clare. But the book is equally engaging and even more layered. The advantage of reading a book is that you can fill in the gaps of vagueness and understatements in your own way, using your own imagination instead of being served with a ready made visual picture that is served to you by the movie. The book has a love story in its focus: it is about Clare and her husband named Henry that has a specific gene disorder which makes him travel through time, beyond his own will. The novel can be read as an allegory for men who simply disappear and are never around when they are needed, always because of some higher force. A unique combination of SF and romance will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it will also make you rethink your relationships and how you treat your partner. The story motivates you to think about some of the main problems in human relations: trust, being able to count on someone, honesty, priorities and compromises.
So, grab some of these four novels and enjoy your weekend! Drift away with a great book and you will experience your own journey through time!