My posts during April form part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I will be writing to a theme: book genres, largely taken from the comprehensive Goodreads list.
So, time travel eh? Obviously a sub-genre to science-fiction, but with history thrown in for good measure.
Connie Willis's "To Say Nothing of the Dog" is a masterpiece of this genre. It combines time-travel, history and humour. Books can make me smile, even chuckle, but I actually laughed out loud so often, I lost count! I've had many a copy and have loaned it out more times that I can remember. I currently am without a copy - unless one returns unexpectedly - but if it doesn't, I shall buy another one, as there is no doubt it is in the 'keep forever' category. The title comes from Jerome K Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" and there is a moment in the time travelling when our historians do pass those three men ... Yes, its full of wit as well. Oh yes - the story: they are travelling back in time in order to save an artifact from Coventry Cathedral before it is lost in a bombing raid during WWII. But, initially, they have to travel back further in order to establish what the artifact looks like as there is no pictorial evidence and its name is somewhat unhelpful. And things don't always go according to plan - hence those laugh out loud moments. Ms Willis has an extensive back catalogue from which I can also highly recommend "Doomsday Book".
Then there's "The first fifteen lives of Harry August" by Claire North. Harry lives and dies, always returning to the same birth, no matter what else changes in each life. When he is in hospital after a suicide attempt, a little girl appears at his bedside telling him she needs to send a message. Harry once again dies and is re-born but, from then on, he has a purpose to work towards with the passing of each life. This is so well crafted, with the early lives given over to Harry's distress, confusion and desperation at what is happening to him. I enjoyed this so much, that I very much hope there will be a second set of fifteen lives ...
My last offering is shall we say, the opposite end of time travel to the previous offerings. It's from the fun, rollicking romp end. Jodi Taylor's The Chronicles of St Mary is a series (what is it with science fiction and series) and I've just read the first "Just one damned thing after another". A group of historians, attached to a University, who do secret time travel, only they like to call it something more pretentious like viewing history in a contemporary frame. I know I really should've written it down, but I was too busy turning the pages! The faults? Its mostly telling not showing, the characters are sketchily drawn and she'd have done better to draw a veil over the (few) sex scenes which are clunky and decidedly hmmm. But it is good fun, with a strong, silent romantic hero ... and did I mention fun?
It seems that time travel offers as much pleasure as does future travel.
How do you feel about the genre? What do you feel are the weaknesses and strengths when compared against other science-fiction? And, as always, do you have any recommendations?