A Brief History of Time-Travel Books, From Charles Dickens to Stephen King

By Emily Temple

From H.G. Wells' time machine to the quantum-fabric-warping ghosts of A Christmas Carol, a list of the best literary clock stoppers

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Stephen King's newest work, 11/22/63, a novel about a man who travels back via a storeroom time portal to stop the JFK assassination, hit the shelves this week. Inspired by this newest addition to the time-travel literature genre, we got to thinking about a few of our favorite time travel stories, and particularly about all of the different ways those fictional mortals manage to thrust themselves back and forth in space-time.

From our vantage, there are a few types of time travel that we see used over and over again: mechanical (time machines and the like), portal-based (stepping through some sort of floating hole in the space-time continuum), fantastical (ghosts or other unbelievable phenomena), magical item-based (some sort of artifact that holds the power of time travel), and the simply unexplained (because why does it matter? Get to the cool future stuff already). There are hundreds of novels and short stories about or involving time travel, so these are a few of our favorites, plucked both from the beginnings of the genre and from contemporary literature. Click through to read our list, and let us know your own favorite time travel novels—or time travel methods—in the comments.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/11/a-brief-history-of-time-travel-books-from-charles-dickens-to-stephen-king/248259/