Time Travel In Science Fiction

~posted by Dave H.

One of the most enduring concepts in science fiction is that of time travel and its consequences. From Ray Bradbury’s famous short story “A Sound of Thunder” to the BACK TO THE FUTURE films and beyond, time travel has remained a core idea in the science fiction genre. The concept itself dates back even before the creation of the genre: both Charles Dickens (A CHRISTMAS CAROL) and Mark Twain (A CONNETICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT) used it in their work. However, most science fiction fans date the first full use of the idea to H.G. Wells’ famous novel THE TIME MACHINE. Published in 1895, Wells’ novel follows an unnamed time traveler into the far future where he discovers a human race that has diverged into two different species: the peaceful, childlike Eloi and the brutish, light-fearing Morlocks. Originally meant as a commentary on class in English society, Wells’ novel still holds up as an excellent adventure story.

If you’re looking for a good time travel novel from the Golden Age of science fiction, try one of Isaac Asimov’s two: PEBBLE IN THE SKY and THE END OF ETERNITY. In the first, a retired tailor finds himself transported to a future where Earth is merely one planet among a vast Galactic Empire. Given an experimental treatment that gives him telepathic abilities, our hero finds himself embroiled in a revolution against the planets overlords. In the second, a time travel organization named Eternity works to minimize human suffering in a future where space travel doesn’t exist. When a technician is sent to the past to secure Eternity’s future, he begins to realize that Eternity may not have humanity’s best interests at heart. Both novels tie into Asimov’s FOUNDATION saga, telling stories set during the age of Galactic Empire.

Even during the “new wave” of science fiction in the 1970s, time travel remained a key idea. David Gerrold’s THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF tells the story of a young man who inherits a time travel device. His explorations in time lead back and forth along his own history, including meeting several different versions of himself (and herself). Though not as well-known as many science fiction novels, Gerrold’s book explores the concept of time travel in ways few books before or since have done.

If you’re interested in a more contemporary take on time travel, try Kage Baker’s “The Company” series. Beginning with IN THE GARDEN OF IDEN, Baker’s novels tell the story of The Company or Dr. Zeus, Inc., an organization that rescues dying children throughout time and changes them into immortal cyborgs so they can secure artifacts to be sold in the far future. As the novels progress, we learn more about the history of The Company, its many agents, the enemies its work has created, and the ultimate reason for its’ existence. Featuring a wide variety of characters and set across a wide stretch of human history, “The Company” novels are science fiction at its best.

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Romantic Wednesdays: Staff Picks

For the past two years we have been highlighting the robust and diverse romance genre on Wednesdays. Despite its staggering popularity, the romance genre doesn’t always get respect or recognition from mainstream press and book awards. It’s been our goal with this column to give romance the love it deserves (pun intended) and acknowledge its massive readership, which includes many librarians at The Seattle Public Library. As we prepare to take a hiatus from this regular column, we asked these librarians to give a shout out to some of their favorite books and authors. Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments, and happy (ever after) reading!

The Duchess War in the Library catalogAny Duchess Will Do in the Library catalogAnne of the Island in the Library catalog Continue reading

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Seattle Quick Picks: Fifty Shades of Grey

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Movie Mondays: A Trip Down Anarchy Lane

~posted by Mike

We old punk rockers are legion. We used to be in bands, we used to go to shows, and we used to believe in something, even if that something was “nothing” with a backwards stenciled N. Now we’re just tired all the time. What’s the least embarrassing way for us to relive those glory days? Why, by watching movies in the comfort of our mortgaged homes, of course! The following films effortlessly capture the infectious energy of that particular brand of idealism and naiveté. It sure beats regaling your friends with stories about the time your squat was subject to a scabies infestation. Continue reading

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The Science Fiction Checklist Challenge: Humorous SF

~posted by David H.

Science fiction as a literary genre is often viewed as one of the more serious, so it can be surprising to many people that it has such a rich history of comic stories. Many of the authors from science fiction’s “Golden Age” wrote humorous science fiction tales, including L. Sprague de Camp, Isaac Asimov, & Fredric Brown. Frederick Pohl and C.L Kornbuth’s satirical novel The Space Merchants is widely considered one of the best early science fiction novels and the genre includes many memorably funny characters like Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat and Henry Kuttner’s drunken inventor Gallegher.

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Girls on the Run

~posted by Kara F.

Last year I took part in a program called Girls on the Run. I volunteered to be a Running Buddy for Highland Park Elementary School, located a block from where I grew up. As a Running Buddy you get partnered with a girl to run a practice 5K, then run the Girls on the Run 5K along with numerous schools throughout Seattle, held at Magnuson Park. The energy and girl empowerment was a magnificent sight to see! The whole time I was enveloped into this world I thought: I wish I had this growing up. Continue reading

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Seattle Quick Picks: The Girl on the Train

Click here to see the list in the SPL catalog

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