A new book by McFarland was published this week. Edited by Matthew Jones and Joan Ormrod, Time Travel in the Media: Essays on Film, Television, Literature and Video Games takes a lively and engaging look at the form of one of science fiction’s most sustained narrative tropes across media: time travel.
In recent years numerous films, television series, comic books, graphic novels and video games have featured time travel narratives, with characters jumping backward, forward and laterally through time. No rules govern time travel in these stories. Some characters move by machine, some by magic, others by unexplained means. Sometime travelers can alter the timeline, while others are prevented from causing temporal aberrations. The fluid forms of imagined time travel have fascinated audiences and prompted debate since at least the 19th century.
What is behind our fascination with time travel? What does it mean to be out of one’s own era? How do different media tell these stories and what does this reveal about the media’s relationship to time? This collection of new essays—the first to address time travel across a range of media—answers these questions by locating time travel narratives within their cultural, historical and philosophical contexts. Texts discussed include Doctor Who, The Terminator, The Georgian House, Save the Date, Back to the Future, Inception, Source Code and others.
Alongside such case studies, my own chapter, titled ‘”Who knows about the future? Perhaps only the dead”: Configuring the Trans-temporal Timespan of Planet of the Apes as a Transmedia Saga,’ examines how the time-bending narration employed in the Planet of the Apes saga scattered across films, TV episodes, comics and promotional texts constructed a narratological puzzle that was enforced by its complex transmedial tendencies.