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When books become time portals

From time-travelling investigators to portals in Paris, here are three recent science fiction novels that explore time travel

The Gone World.
The Gone World.

Time travel has a distinct place in the sci-fi genre. How a protagonist adapts to the changing world when she travels back or ahead in time, and how realities change with time travel, has always fascinated readers . We look at three recent books that are based on the theme of time travel.

The Gone World (By Tom Sweterlitsch)

Set in 1997, this thriller follows Shannon Moss, part of a criminal investigative service, who must solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family—and find his missing daughter. When Moss discovers that the SEAL was an astronaut aboard a spaceship that was assumed to be lost in Deep Time, she comes to believe that the SEAL’s experience with the future is somehow connected to this crime.

Moss must travel forward in time to seek evidence. But the future reveals something cataclysmic that might bring an end to humanity itself.

Penguin Random House, 2018

All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays (By Elan Mastai)

What if all our dreams about flying cars, lunar travel and a techno future could actually come true? They did, in the case of Tom Barren, the narrator in Mastai’s book. But Barren somehow can’t seem to find his place in this techno-utopian paradise.

After a time-travel mishap, he finds himself in 2016: our real world, a stark contrast from the futuristic one. But when he discovers unexpected versions of his life and career, Tom must make a decision: Should he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back, or should he try to build a new life in our reality? The novel finds interesting ways of exploring the temporal paradox of time-travel.

Penguin Random House, 2017

Paris Adrift

Paris Adrift (By E.J. Swift)

When student geologist Hallie decides to leave England for good, she heads to Paris. There, she begins working as a bartender at Millie’s, a bar next to Moulin Rouge, and meets Gabriela, another bartender, who guides her through the strange nocturnal world. Slowly, Hallie begins to put her life back in order.

But when Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room, things change. Over the next few months, she navigates time-travels through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own sense of self.

The time portals in the novel are called anomalies, and an interesting aspect of the plot is that only one human (called an Incumbent) can be paired with an anomaly. An Incumbent can go through life without ever finding the anomaly that’s meant for her. This adds to the suspense.

Solaris Books; 2018

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