Time Travel Top Picks

We themed an entire issue of our newsletter on time. That’s how badly we wanted to talk about time travel. Here’s our list of recent books about time travel that we recommend and DIDN’T fit into issue two. The list also includes recommendations from you (we asked on Twitter, you answered) – so thank you for that.

How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu (Atlantic Books)

Life as a time machine repairman is a lonely business. Charles Yu has been spying on 39 alternate versions of himself with an imaginary dog called Ed and an AI computer called TAMMY with self-esteem issues for company. When Charles sees his future self and shoots him in the stomach, he finds himself stuck in a time loop. The only thing that might save him is the book that his future self was trying to give to him – a manual, How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, written by him. This novel rides on the back of well-known science fiction tropes and tricks, the genius and humour of Douglas Adams, to find something unique.

Here and Now and Then, Mike Chen (Mira Books)

Kin is an ex-time traveller from 2142 stranded in 1990s after a botched mission with no memory of his old life. When his ‘rescue’ team appear eighteen years too late, trying to return him to a family he doesn’t remember, he is torn between two lives. Desperate to stay connected to both, his efforts threaten to destroy the agency and his daughter’s very existence. This emotional genre-bending debut investigates how far a Father will go to fight for his family.

The Future of Another Timeline, Annalee Newitz (Orbit Books)

1992 – Beth finds herself trying to hide the dead body of her friend’s abusive boyfriend. This sets Beth and her friends on a path of vengeance and violence, striving to defend vulnerable women across the world.
2022 – Tess dedicates herself to visiting key moments in history to fight for a safer future. When Tess finds a way to make an edit that might stick, she encounters a dangerous group determined to stop her. Tess and Beth fall into a war across the timeline. Their fighting threatens to destroy time travel or leave it in the hands of elites. Weaving together feminist movements, historical personage and time travel, Annalee Newitz’s thoroughly researched novel is a time travel gem.

Buying Time, E. M. Brown (Solaris)

In a dystopian near-future, screenwriter Ed Richie finds himself jumping back in time into his younger body, unable to control when the jumps occur. These mysterious jumps throughout the novel force Ed to review his life as he encounters the question; what would you change if you could live your life again? Meanwhile in 2030, Ella works hard to solve the mystery of Ed’s disappearance. “A bold new time-warping direction for a leading light in science fiction.”

Kindred, Octavia E. Butler (Headline)

Written in 1976, Kindred still feels eerily relevant in 2021. A rich combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction, this novel is complex and powerful. A woman is inexplicably wrenched back through time into antebellum Maryland, where she saves a young white boy from drowning. Staring down the barrel of a shotgun, she is brought back to her present just in time. She then begins to experience numerous such encounters with the same young man, struggling to realise what’s going on.

The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes (Mulholland Books)

When Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens to other times, he finds that it comes at a cost: he must kill the shining girls. But as he stalks them through time, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, starts hunting him back. She must race against time and reason to unravel an impossible mystery. Will she be able to stop this time-travelling serial killer before it’s too late?

The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (Random House)

Clare and Henry have known each other a long time – since they met when Clare was six and Henry thirty six – but meet in a strange order. This is because Henry finds that periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.