As Mack Reynolds indicated as long ago as 1959, time travel is one of the most fecund sub-genres of speculative fiction, and one of the most interesting. The task of surveying the field within the confines of a mere few pages is daunting,1 and would be made even more so if the discussion were allowed to become overly inclusive. So, what am I excluding? Movies and television. My subject is the printed word.Reincarnatory novels, as typified by Joan Grant’s Winged Pharaoh (1937), Taylor Caldwell’s The Romance of Atlantis (1975; with Jess Stearn), both supposedly based on memories of past lives, and the acknowledgedly fictional Ferney (1998) by James Long.Ghost stories. The haziness of the boundary is exemplified by W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe (1982). When historic baseball players start appearing on the narrator’s baseball field it’s reasonable to think of them as ghosts. But in one section, he seems certainly to be visiting the past: ‘I have been dropped, soft as a falling leaf, into a starry June night in the summer of 1955, Doc’s seventy-fifth year.’ Overall, though, while some time-travel stories involve ghosts, the ghost story seems outwith my remit.Alternative histories. While some stories considered here involve the concept, the average alternative history tale isn’t sensibly discussed in terms of time travel.Tales in which the time travel is to an imaginary past, like the various tales of the Incompleat Enchanter series (1940–54) by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt.
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