Time Travel Books for Timeless Fans

June 28, 2018 | M. Elwood

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When NBC announced the cancellation of Timeless, fans of the television show launched a passionate campaign to save it. I love time travel on screen and on the page even when there are gaping logic holes, so I began watching it on Netflix. The show is about an Elon Musk-type inventor who has built a time machine. One night the machine is stolen. Fearing that the thief is going to change the past and alter reality, the inventor and the government put together a team to apprehend the perpetrator. Fortunately, there's a second time machine that the team--a soldier, a history professor and an engineer--can use for this mission and they begin a chase through time. In the process,  the team changes the past and alters reality, but no one seems very concerned about that. Oh, and there's a shadowy secret organization called Rittenhouse that is doing something but I'm not really clear what it is. Oh, and the thief may be a good guy. There are parts of the show that annoy me but it's fun, everyone is attractive, and they get to wear period clothes. 

If you miss Timeless and enjoy time travel, these are some books available at Toronto Public Library:

All our wrong todays

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mostai

A young man living in an idyllic, high-tech Toronto travels back in time and accidentally prevents the discovery that will define his world. Suddenly, he finds himself in an alternative Toronto--primitive, imperfect, low tech--the city we know. Tom misses the perfection and convenience of his world but he may have found the love of his life in ours. Will he risk everything to fix the future?

Doomsday book

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

In the near future, time travel is used by historians to research past time periods. Although the process has been created to be completely safe and totally foolproof, Kivrin Engle is sent to the wrong time period, arriving 20 years later than she expected. Not only is she unprepared for 1348 Oxford, it is the height of the bubonic plague and she has no way to return home.

Willis has written several books and short stories featuring different time travelling historians; some are light but The Doomsday Book is pretty harrowing.

Gods monsters and the lucky peach

Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson

Ecological disasters have forced humans to live underground, but now a small group has been sent above ground to repair the damage. Minh is an expert in river ecosystems and thanks to a recent invention, she is able to visit 2024 BCE where she can study the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It's a great opportunity but she can't suppress her suspicions about TERN, the shadowy organization that controls time travel. 

The New York Times raved about this one. 

  The gone world

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

Author Tom Sweterlitsch describes his book as "a murder mystery time-travel thriller about NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss as she fights to prevent the end of Mankind".  It's also getting rave reviews. A small sample:

The New Yorker: "I like to be freaked out and mystified simultaneously. The Gone World, a gory time-travel thriller, does both in surprising ways….Inception meets True Detective, but it also contains elements of Solaris, Interstellar, Twin Peaks, Minority Report, and even Stargate."

Library Journal: "Describing much more than [the] simple setup would rob the reader of the trippy experience of navigating the time-travel intricacies of this nail-biting speculative thriller."

The Verge: "A complicated, dazzling novel that keeps the reader hooked until the last pages…"

Kirkus: "A mind-blowing fusion of science fiction, thriller, existential horror, and apocalyptic fiction…"

I think it sounds fantastic. What about you?


  How to live safely in a science fictional universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Fictional character Charles Yu is a time machine repairman. He steps in when people rent time machines and become stuck in time. Unfortunately Yu has caused his own temporal loop by shooting his future self who hands him a book and tells him that it is the key. Yu (the present one) returns to the time machine with the knowledge that his destiny is to someday be shot by his past self. 

How to stop time

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard is a different sort of time traveller. Born in 1581, he simply doesn't age at the same rate as most people. Although some would wish for this sort of near-immortality, for Tom it is a curse. While he's spent centuries witnessing world events and meeting historical figures, he has also had to watch as his loved ones grow old and die--most of his loved ones, that is. His daughter, Marion inherited the same condition and is alive somewhere. Can The Albatross Society, a secret organization that protects people like Tom and Marion help them reunite?

Just one damned thing after another

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

Madeline Maxwell is an employee at the St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research. Her job is to travel in time and observe and investigate historical events without interfering. It's a dangerous job because History doesn't want changes and will fight against them--sometimes with deadly force. History isn't the only danger, however, there's a shadowy organization that wants to put an end to St. Mary's. The first book in a series. 

Paris adrift

Paris Adrift by E. J. Swift

Hallie has run away to Paris leaving behind her dysfunctional family and an unfinished degree. She finds work at a bar called Millie's where she discovers a portal that will allow her to travel in time. It also allows her to move further away from her problems in the present day and she becomes almost addicted to the thrill of time travel. A fellow time traveller is concerned that Hallie may become permanently trapped but can the present ever be enough for her?

Ask library staff members for other suggestions.