The best books on time travel

The Books I Picked & Why

All You Zombies: Five Classic Stories

By Robert A. Heinlein

All You Zombies: Five Classic Stories

Why this book?

If there's one book that sums up the mind-bending and downright contradictory notions of travelling through time then this is it. Heinlein – the king of science fiction – wickedly and expertly messes with everything you consider to be possible. What's more, he only needs a short story to do it. It's utter genius at work. You'll still be thinking about it long after finishing the last page.


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The Time Machine

By H.G. Wells

The Time Machine

Why this book?

The phrase “time machine” has been ushered into everyday language, but often we forget it was Wells who coined it. His time travel masterpiece does what all good science fiction should do: it holds up a mirror to modern society. It also shows us the psychological differences between travelling to the past – where events are already known – and zipping forwards to future where you have no idea what awaits you.


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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

By Douglas Adams

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Why this book?

The eponymous eatery is Milliways, which exists in a time-bubble near the end of the universe. Adams likely needs no introduction, but it is hard to find anyone to match his wit, humour, and way with words. It's no wonder Elon Musk decided to put a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox of the Tesla Roadster he launched into space back in February 2018. 


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The Science of Doctor Who: The Scientific Facts Behind the Time Warps and Space Travels of the Doctor

By Mark Brake

The Science of Doctor Who: The Scientific Facts Behind the Time Warps and Space Travels of the Doctor

Why this book?

I'm a sucker for time travel stories and they don't come much more bountiful than in the long-running TV show Doctor Who. I love it, particularly the juxtaposition between the ancient Gallifreyan's boundless enthusiasm and deep emotional trauma from seeing everyone he (and now she) loves come and go over time. Over the last 60 years, the show has tackled pretty much every paradox and possibility. Brake's book weaves the physics behind the TARDIS into backstage insights into the show.


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The Order of Time

By Carlo Rovelli

The Order of Time

Why this book?

I've been lucky enough to interview Rovelli in the past and he is as much a poet as he is a theoretical physicist. Working at the coal-face of modern physics research, he's helping to develop a theory called loop quantum gravity. The Order of Time is a beautifully written contemplation on the physics of time, including the astounding notion that time may not even exist.


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