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Top Best Time Travel Stories Of All Time

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Charlie Chaplins Time Traveller
1- All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein
All You Zombies is one of the greatest, and most twisted, time travel stories ever imagined.I won’t spoil this magnificent story, but the twists pile on one another, each one making you revisit the previous, until the final reveal. It’s one of the few stories where it probably wouldn’t hurt to make a diagram as you go, to keep track of what happens. The title itself is a reference to one of the final lines in the story, in itself packed with portent, “I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from?”
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2- Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance With Death by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut’s most well known work, Slaughterhouse-Five rightly belongs on any list of great novels, especially one focused on time travel. It concern’s Billy Trout, WWII POW unstuck in time. He simultaneously and out-of-order experiences his past, being at war, being a prisoner of the Germans, the firebombing of Dresden, his experience as an exhibit at an alien zoo, his life after the war, and his eventual murder. The bleak fatalistic view of the novel is marked and re-marked by the constant recurrence of the line “so it goes.” As ever with Vonnegut, his writing is bittersweet and touching.
you can buy now and the new edition is here.
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3- The short stories of Philip K Dick
A full half this list could easily be devoted to the short stories of legendary (and drug addled) author, Philip K. Dick. So we’ll just combine them into one big lump, and call out a couple of great ones. Forget the crappy Ben Affleck adaptation, Paycheck is a tense thriller about a man who has his mind voluntarily wiped as part of a job, and when he comes to, instead of a large paycheck he has six random objects; The Skull tells the story of an assassin sent back in time to kill the founder of a new religion, with only the man’s skull from the future as a guide to his target; finally The Variable Man is perhaps my favorite, the tale of a man from the early 20th Century accidentally hurled into the future and getting dragged into an alien war. Dick’s work is always hard to summarize without giving away too much, so go and grab a book of his stories, they’re universally mind blowing.
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4- The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
The one, only, and classic. One of the few time travel stories from the 19th Century, H.G. Wells’ seminal tale told of the Time Traveller, and his shifting through the ages. The most commonly known chunk of the story is when he visits the year 802,701 AD, and comes across the peaceful but aimless Eloi, and the brutal subterranean Morlocks. However, the book continues further, as the Traveller continues onwards, watching the Earth slowly die, and the Sun turn cold. This novelette popularised the concept of time travel via a vehicle (rather than by accident, as with other older stories), and without it we wouldn’t have the breadth of this genre that we all love.
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5- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
If you haven’t read the Hitchhiker’s Guide Trilogy yet, then you are a horrible, horrible person. You probably push old ladies into incoming traffic, and believe in trickle down economics. Seriously, I steadfastly refuse to believe that anyone of decent worth has not read the Hitchhiker’s guide, so go do it. In those hallowed pages you will find the most bitterly hilarious and tragic comedy to be set on paper. Including, among other things, time travel, and the original colonization of Earth by a ship full of middle managers, hairdressers and telephone sanitizers.
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6- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I know I completely lose any guy cred for choosing this. I totally don’t care. It’s a beautiful love story about a man with a genetic condition that causes him to randomly pop around the timeline, the woman who loves him, and their desperate struggle to have a relationship. It’s saccharine and cliché, but it’s a love story, it’s meant to be. How each of the main characters meets the other for the first time, at various points in their lives, are particularly well done, and the ending of the story is particularly heart-wrenching, though telegraphed. The story’s pace is perfect, and while it won’t mentally tax you the way some of the other stories on this list will, it makes a perfect lazy read.
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7- The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Another multi-volume choice, but the four part Book of the New Sun flows continuously from one novel to the next, reading a single unit. The reason it’s included on this list isn’t that the story involved time travel, but that the book itself is an artifact from another time. The tale is based on a journal from the future, flung into the recesses of the past. The story told in the Book of the New Sun is one of the clearest examples of science fiction as literature as you can find, and one of the few SF stories that’s actually had an entire book devoted to its analysis published. Any budding linguists out there will do well to read it, as Wolfe’s approach to the language of the future is masterful, crafting argot from similar roots to modern English, so they sound familiar, but still unrecognized.
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8- The Time Quartet by Madeline L’EngleSearch for madeline engle time
One of the finest young adult series to be had, the first volume—A Wrinkle in Time—deservedly won the Newbery Award. Young adult literature functions best when it actually bothers to treat its readers as intelligent human beings, and L’Engle does this with aplomb. The quartet deals with morality, belief, and good and evil, while taking place across the a universe of time, space and scale. While some find L’Engle’s religion off putting—either for being too Christian, or not enough—within the context of the novels, it’s seen as part of a larger universal force for good.
Yuo can buy the book now and the audio cassette is here.
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9- The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter.
Once, there was a very shitty science fiction book called Timeline, by Michael Crichton, which used quantum foam as a way of sending college students to the medieval era for hijinks. Then, around a year later, came a truly excellent novel by Clarke and Baxter, also focusing on the theoretical possibilities of quantum foam—but for time viewing instead of time travel. Through wormholes, people became able to watch any point in the history of humanity. The Light of Other Days is a brilliant sociological analysis of a culture where privacy becomes completely non-existent. When someone can look at any event ever (including the present), Governments grind to a halt, and modesty becomes a relic—apart from a small group dedicated to attempting to avoid being watched. It’s Clarke and Baxter at their bests, with a deep philosophical view on the possible implications of this technique. Though the ending comes completely out of left field, and makes little sense.

You can buy the book or audio CD.
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