Meet Here Yesterday
There’s never been a better time than now to jump into a time machine; set a course and grab your helmet! While sadly that isn’t possible (for now), we can escape to other histories, bodies, and universes in the pages of the books below.
Each title explores the questions that are bound to time travel -- free will versus determinism, establishing identity in an age of futility, and fighting for love in an unpredictable landscape. Bring along a notebook; things can get tricky.
(Please note that all titles are linked to in ebook and audiobook formats for ease of access right now; DC Public Library also owns them all in print formats as well.)
The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
In her début novel, Mascarenhas presents an engrossing genre-defying caper. In 1967 London a core group of scientists -- Margaret, Lucille, Grace and Barbara -- invent the world’s first time machine. However, the unveiling of their astonishing creation is marked by tragedy. Fifty years later, Barbara’s granddaughter Ruby receives a disturbing anonymous message: A woman will be murdered in five months time. Who is the victim, who is the culprit, and can it be prevented? Ruby must investigate a series of events that have shaped the collective future...while finding love along the way. Mascarenhas deftly maneuvers through time and the multiple narratives of her cast as she ponders how time travel affects the behaviors of its seekers.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
“I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.” When Butler’s solemn tale begins in 1976 we meet Dana, an African-American woman living happily with her husband in Los Angeles. Abruptly (and repeatedly) she is transported to the antebellum South and experiences life as a slave. Dana is “destined” to rescue Rufus, the son of the plantation owner and her ancestor, thereby ensuring her very existence. But at what cost to her present and future self, and to those around her? Kindred remains a classic for Butler’s trademark spare and poignant writing on the atrocities of racism, sexism and the burdened bodies that lie in its wake.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft, Flights is a remarkable and complex tapestry of traveler portraits and maps. There’s Dr. Blau, a 17th-century Dutch anatomist who hunts for odd specimens, the sister of Chopin who’s secretly transporting his heart back to Warsaw, and a young man named Kunicki whose family disappears without a trace. These evocative scenes (some rooted in fact, others wholly fictional) brilliantly exemplify the nature of time travel; storylines converge and confuse, geographies disorient, and readers seek stability as they migrate through spatial, temporal, and psychological landscapes within a single page.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Red and Blue are two lone adversaries and spies. For over a millennia the two women have wandered through time to fiercely defend their worlds -- one a tech-dominated empire called “the Agency” and the other a biological hive consciousness, “the Garden.” They’ve seen it all (except each other), from fighting in the age of Genghis Khan in Mongolia to the Battle of Stalingrad during WWII. One day Red detects a letter hidden on the battlefield bearing a single line, “burn before reading.” In fantastical, staccato prose El-Mohtar and Gladstone offer a thrilling game of cat and mouse that develops into a queer epistolary romance. Who will sacrifice their future for the other?
Ever wonder when time travel first appeared? Is such an adventure truly possible? Acclaimed nonfiction science writer Gleick recounts the vast and mind-bending history of time travel. From the late 19th century of H.G. Wells to the modern-day novels of Ali Smith, the author curates the origins, motives, gadgets, and paradoxes of traveling. This book is a detailed and witty guide peppered with intriguing illustrations; by its end readers will be well-versed in the evolving cultural phenomena of moving through space and time.