The best novels about time travel and the paradoxes that arise

Seth Chambers Author Of Little Bird
By Seth Chambers

The Books I Picked & Why

Up the Line

By Robert Silverberg

Book cover of Up the Line

Why this book?

This is a novel that explores all the complexities and paradoxes and oddities associated with time travel. It takes place in a future world in which time travel is a part of life, and so must be monitored and regulated like any other technology. Because time travel holds such a huge potential for disaster, strict rules must be established and enforced. But what happens when somebody flaunts those rules for their own personal enjoyment? This novel explores these concepts in a wild, and often erotic, fashion. 

This book really perpetuated my love of time-travel tales and all the complexities involved in a society where time travel is an accepted norm. It's a totally fun novel that deals with some truly existential concepts in an entertaining way and inspires that sense of wonder that fans of SF crave. It's one of those stories that stick with you for many, many years after reading.

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The Chronocar: An Urban Adventure In Time

By Steve Bellinger

Book cover of The Chronocar: An Urban Adventure In Time

Why this book?

This contemporary SF novel deals with a lot of the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts aspect of time travel, as well as providing an intriguing story. So many time-travel stories gloss over many of the implications of this technology, but The Chronocar doesn't shy away from such concepts. It also features believable, rough-around-the-edges characters and a truly surprising plot twist. Also, one of my favorite things about this novel is how reminiscent it is of Golden Age SF. 

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The End of Eternity

By Isaac Asimov

Book cover of The End of Eternity

Why this book?

This is probably the first time-travel book I ever read, way back when I was about twelve. It drew me in and ignited my love of science fiction and time travel both. Here was a world in which a class known as Eternals travel about time ensuring that history proceed according to plan. To be effective, Eternals stand apart from the timeline, and must be impartial and virtually without emotion. Ah, but what happens when an Eternal falls in love with some woman in the timeline? What will happens to his impartiality? 

I decided to reread this novel decades later, and was happily surprised to find that it stood the test of time. It was still fascinating as when I first picked it up oh-so-long ago.

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By Stephen King

Book cover of 11/22/63

Why this book?

Okay, this novel totally took me by surprise. In it, Stephen King has departed from his usual domain of horror to craft a science-fiction, time-travel thriller. The premise is somewhat simple: What would happen if somebody traveled back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination? Ah, but then come the complications! The timeline is almost a living entity that seeks to preserve itself. This is truly a monumental novel that is the result of massive research combined with King's storytelling mastery. 

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By Kurt Vonnegut

Book cover of Slaughterhouse-Five

Why this book?

Here is a story that sticks with you for decades! It's a wild mix of time travel, aliens, war, and philosophy. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, becomes unmoored from his present to become like a ping pong ball in time, often traveling back to his time as a POW. Along the way, he meets up with the Tralfamadorians.  Oddly enough, these aliens look like toilet plungers, but they also have a much broader view of time and space than do humans. After reading Slaughterhouse-Five, our own views become a bit broader, a bit more Tralfamadorian-like. 

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