Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer

imageDear Clare, it was very clever of you to think of this book. I promise not to read your diary, I did open it once just to find out the date, but I promise on my honour I didn’t read any more. I promise. By the way, do you think we should tell Emily what’s happening? I’m sure she’s suspicious, so it might be better. But I think you should tell  her, perhaps, not me. How are you managing here? Do you find it very difficult and strange? I don’t think anything important happened today. I will write tomorrow. Yours sincerely, Charlotte.

For Charlotte Makepeace, the first day of boarding school is bewildering.  So many rules, timetables and bells, and hordes of other girls who know just how everything works. She spends her first nght cowered under the bedsheets, wondering how she’ll ever make sense of it all. However, when she wakes up, she’s in the same bed, the same room, the same school, even, but somehow she has travelled 40 years back in time to 1918.

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A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

imageMeg cried, “Father, we know something’s happened. You have to tell us — please.”
His voice was cold and distant. “War.”
Meg put her hand protectively over her belly. “Do you mean nuclear war?”
The family seemed to draw together.
“Is it Mad Dog Branzillo?” asked Meg.
“Yes. The President feels that this time Branzillo is going to carry out his threat, and then we’ll have no choice but to use our antiballistic missiles.”

When Meg Murry and her family sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, they don’t expect to discover that the planet is in danger from imminent nuclear war — a mad South American dictator is about to launch nuclear weapons against the US. However, it soon becomes clear that the dictator, ‘El Rabioso’ or Mad Dog Branzillo, is more closely connected to the Murry family than they had previously thought, and Meg’s younger brother Charles Wallace is called to make a journey through time, righting small wrongs in each time period, that together serve to change the course of history.

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Kindred by Octavia Butler

imageI raised my head and discovered that I could not focus on him. ‘Something is wrong with me’ I gasped.
I heard him move toward me, saw a blur of grey pants and blue shirt. Then, just before he would have touched me, he vanished.
The house, the books, everything vanished. Suddenly, I was outdoors kneeling on the ground beneath trees. I was in a green place. I was at the edge of a woods. Before me was a wide tranquil river, and near the middle of that river was a child splashing, screaming …
Drowning!

Dana is a twenty-six year old writer living in California in 1976 with her husband Kevin, also a writer. They’ve finally managed to buy their first house, but as they’re unpacking, Dana starts to feel queasy. Before she knows it, she’s been transported back in time to save the life of a drowning child. However, far from being grateful, the child’s parents are instantly suspicious, and his father aims a gun at her, intending to shoot. Straight away the dizziness returns, and she finds herself back in her house — no time has passed.

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The Man Who Walked Home by James Tiptree, Jr

James Tiptree, Jr is the pseudonym of science fiction writer Alice B Sheldon.
The Man Who Walked Home is published in the collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever or can be read online for free here. This review will contain spoilers.

IMG_0001-1Precisely what hashed up in the work of the major industrial lessee of the Bonneville Particle Acceleration Facility in Idaho was never known. Or rather, all those who might have been able to diagnose the original malfunction were themselves obliterated almost at once in the greater catastrophe which followed.

The man who walked home is Major John Delgano, the first and only man to travel in time. When he is sent forward in a time travel experiment, something goes horribly wrong, and he is sent far too far away, perhaps fifty thousand years in the future. So he tries to walk home, backwards in time.

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Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

When I picked the Time Travel theme, this book was first on my to-read pile — I’ve had it for ages but never read it. I should not have waited this long — this book is incredible.

Doomsday_Book“I know you’re worried about me, but please don’t be. The drop’s on the main road from Oxford to Bath only two miles from Skendgate. If no-one comes along, I’ll walk into the village and tell them I’ve been attacked by robbers. After I’ve determined my location so I can find the drop again”. She put her hand up to the glass. “I just wanted to thank you both for everything you’ve done. I’ve wanted to go to the Middle Ages more than anything, and now I’m actually going.”

Kivrin Engle is a historian at Oxford University, whose dream of visiting the Middle Ages is about to be realised. It’s a risky operation, because no-one’s ever been sent that far back in time before, but the science is sound and there’s very little chance of anything actually going wrong. But when Kivrin arrives in the fourteenth century, she’s immediately struck down by a mysterious illness. Delirious, she is carried to a local manor house, where she is cared for until she recovers.

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A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin

I’m kicking off my season of Time travel stories with a short story that’s an old favourite. A Fisherman of the Inland Sea is published in the short story collection of the same name.

AFishermanOfTheInlandSeaThe distance between Hain and my home world is just over four light-years, and there has been traffic between O and the Hainish system for twenty centuries. Event before the Nearly As Fast As Light drive, when ships spent a hundred years of planetary time instead of four to make the crossing, there were people who would give up their old life to come to a new world. Sometimes they returned; not often. There were tales of such sad returns to a world that had forgotten the voyager.

The story takes the form of a letter, from Hideo, a farmer on the planet of O, to his old teachers on another planet, Hain, as Hideo is explaining the story of his life. He grew up in a traditional farming household with his mother Isako, sister Koneko and adored cousin Isidri. He’s an excellent student, and goes on to study advanced temporal physics and engineering at university, and from there is selected to join an advanced research group on Hain.

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