The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 1910 to 1921



   The Steps to Nowhere
by Grace Duffie Boylan
First publication: 1910

Patty and Traddy Lee, the children of a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers who is suddenly sent to work on the Panama Canal, are unintentionally left on their own for a few weeks during which they run into a clock that runs backwards and takes them to 17th century New York, Captain Kidd, various parts unknown in Central America, and a kind of Neverland called the Land of the Vanished People,

 “Where you doin?” he asked, quite as though he had been accustomed to meeting old clocks on the stairs.
Im bound for yes-ter-day,” the clock replied. “Want to go to yes-ter-day?”
 


I haven’t found the Feb 1910 cover, but here’s a later issue.

   “Phantas”
by Oliver Onions
First publication: Nash’s Magazine, Feb 1910

Abel Keeling and Bligh are the only two mates remaining on board the sailing ship Mary of the Tower as she slips beneath the waves and possibly slips forward to the time of steam-powered ships.

 Listen. Were His Majestys destroyer Seapink, out of Devonport last Octovr, and nothing particular the matter with us. Now who are you? 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
Through the Little Green Door by Mary Dickerson Donahey [no definite time travel ]



   “The Cigarette Case”
by Oliver Onions
First publication: Widdershins, 1911

Initially, I thought this story of the narrator and his pal Carroll in Provence was just a ghost story. After all, they wander off and meet a young woman and her aunt, whom the travelers later find out have been dead for years. Ghosts, right? After all, Oliver Onions is known for his ghost stories. Unless the travelers were actually in the ladies’ house of long ago, and proof of their visits surfaces.

 He paused, looking at my cigarette case, which he had taken into his hand again. He smiled at some recollection or other, and it was a minute or so before he continued. 


the 1970 sfbc edition

   The Barsoom Series
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
First book: All-Story, Feb–Jul 1912 (as by Norman Bean)

When I first joined the Science Fiction Book Club in 1970, the Barsoom books were the first series I bought. I’d already read them at an earlier age, but how could I pass up the Frazetta covers? Now I admit there’s not much time travelin’ on Barsoom, so I won’t list all the books separately, but I swear on Grandpa Main’s tractor that this is no chronotypical story (see the Master Traveller citation below).

 Yes, Dejah Thoris, I too am a prisoner; my name is John Carter, and I claim Virginia, one of the United States of America, Earth, as my home; but why I am permitted to wear arms I do not know, nor was I aware that my regalia was that of a chieftain. 


Edgar Rice Burroughs, Master Traveller

In addition to introducing me to H.G. Wells, my Grandpa Main also gave me my first taste of John Carter of Mars. While he was working on the tractor in his barn, we discussed just how the Prince of Helium got to Dejah Thoris’s Mars, so different from today’s Mars. There seemed only one explanation, and as a result, we awarded Edgar Rice Burroughs with a Master Traveller Citation for the first interplanetary time travel.





  The Year 2000 #2
Castaways of the Year 2000
by W.W. Cook
First publication: Argosy, Oct 1912–Feb 1913

In this sequel to 1903’s A Round Trip to the Year 2000; or a Flight Through Time, Lumley has returned to his own time and is held responsible for Kelpie’s disappearance at which point he returns to the future and adventures ensue.

I wish that today’s story magazines sported such alluring artwork. Not only that, but in October of 1912, for just 30¢ you could have bought this issue of The Argosy as well as the first-ever story of Tarzan of the Apes in Argosy’s sister magazine, The All-Story. And today, instead, we get endless reality tv, including Castaway 2000.

Put me out of my misery if I ever start sounding curmudgeonly.

 Dr. Alonzo Kelpie, author of “Time and Space and Their Limitations,” was a hunchback. Although a small man physically, intellectually he was a giant. To have him emerge thus unexpectedly through the dissolving mists of their environment was a seven-day wonder to Lumley, Kinch, McWilliams, Mortimer, and Ripley. 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
The Adventures of Ceresota by Northwestern Consolidated [legendary figures ]



   “Accessory Before the Fact”
by Algernon Blackwood
First publication: Ten Minute Stories, 1914

An English man on a walking holiday experiences a short time in another man’s future and struggles with the ethics of whether and how to deliver a warning to that other man.

 He had been an eavesdropper, and had come upon private information of a secret kind that he had no right to make use of, even that good might come—even to save life. 




   Out of the Miocene
by John Charles Beecham
First publication: The Popular Magazine, 15 Sep (cover date 23 Aug) to 1 Oct 1914

When Bruce Dayton wanders off the trails in the high plains of the American Southwest, he stumbles upon an old-timer who sends Bruce’s mind back to Miocene times and into the body of an apeman who had an earlier usage of the same soul as Bruce.

 We are atoms in two oceans, time and space. Walk from here to the forest yonder, and your corporal self passes through a portion of space. Each moment you live you pass through a portion of the ocean of time. But the progression is only one way—for the corporal body. With the spirit it is different. Time has no boundaries for it. Out of the infinite, into the infinite, it comes and it goes. It is one with the Eternal. Therein Moses was right. 


In the story—and in real life—William Rothestein drew this pastel portrait of Enoch Soames.

   “Enoch Soames:
A Memory of the Eighteen-Nineties”

by Max Beerbohm
First publication: The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, May 1916

Beerbohm (then an undergraduate at Oxford) feels something near to reverence toward the Catholic diabolist Enoch Soames, seeing as how the man from Preston has published one book of stories and has another book of poems forthcoming, but over time, Enoch himself becomes more and more morose and unsatisfied that he shall never see his own work appreciated in future years.

 A hundred years hence! Think of it! If I could come back to life THEN—just for a few hours—and go to the reading-room and READ! Or, better still, if I could be projected now, at this moment, into that future, into that reading-room, just for this one afternoon! I'd sell myself body and soul to the Devil for that! 




   The Sense of the Past
by Henry James
First publication: 26 Oct 1917

When the last of the English Pendrels dies and leaves a London estate house to American Ralph Pendrel, the young Pendrel travels to England and finds himself inhabiting the body of an even earlier Pendrel. Unfortunately, when Henry James himself died, that’s as far as he’d gotten in writing the book, although the posthumous publication included James’s notes on the conclusion—plenty enough to inspire a litany of followers from countless versions of Berkeley Square to H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time.”

 He clung to his gravity, which somehow steadied him—so odd it was that the sense of her understanding wouldnt be abated, which even a particular lapse, he could see . . . 

—final words written by James in the unfinished novel


   Draft of Eternity
aka Draught of Eternity
by Victor Rousseau
First publication: All-Story Weekly 1–22 Jun 1918

After taking cannibus, Dr. Clifford Pal awakens thousands of years in the future when America has been conquered by the Yuki, whereupon he falls in love with a princess, starts a revolution, and drinks more cannibus to return to the twentieth century.



   The Ghost of Slumber Mountain
by Willis O’Brien (O’Brien, director)
First release: 17 Nov 1918

Unk tells a story to his two nephews about the time when he and Joe Soxie visited the stone-covered grave and haunted cabn of Mad Dick where they (and they dog) were able to view the prehistoric past through a queer looking instrument and accidentally allow T. Rex onto Slumber Mountain. Of course, it may have all been a dream, which would normally disqualify the story from our list, but not when it’s 1918 stop-acton dinosaur animation!

 Far, far away, at the foot of a cliff, a Thunder Lizard—which must have been at least one hundred feet long—appeared out of the mists of forty million years. 


Willis O’Brien, Master Traveller

Without The Ghosts of Slumber Mountain, would Marty McFly ever have been born? Probably, but Willis O’Brien still deserves a Master Traveller Citation for the first time travel film.





   A Romance of Two Centuries:
A Tale of the Year 2025

by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie
First publication: 1919

After being given sleeping sickness by the Germans in The Great War, our hero is taken back to America by a kindly nurse and put into a deeper sleep, only to awoken in the year 2025 where he is renamed Oleander Parentive Neurodundeeian, falls in love, and experiences the generally amazing future. But that’s not where the time travel comes into play (that’s merely falling into a long sleep). The backward time travel occurs when he wants to relate all this back to his wife and companions in the early 20th century. As for the mechanism for achieving this, only Guthrie’s original words in the following quote can do it justice:

 Jules Verne, in his Tour Around the World in Eighty Days, had made the plot hinge on the fact that by circling the entire globe Mr. Fogg had gained one day. I also called to mind how, when European newspaper correspondents telegraphed to America, the message reached there five hours before it was sent. A childishly simple calculation showed that if a telegraph message was made to circle the whole globe, it would arrive twenty-four hours, or one calendar day, before it was sent. If then it were possible to telegraph twice around the globe, it would arrive two days before it was sent, and so on in proportion. If a message circled the globe 365 times, it would arrive one full year before it was despatched. 3650 times would anticipate 10 years, and 36,500 times would gain 100 years; and as to reach my wife of long ago I needed to go back 110 years, the problem would be solved if I could send a message around the globe 40,150 times without stopping. Of course, there would be a rectification to be made for the 27 leap years, so that the needed circlings would be 40,177. 


This illustration is from Argosy; the story was later reprinted in the June 1926 issue of Amazing Stories.

   “The Runaway Skyscraper”
by Murray Leinster
First publication: Argosy, 22 Feb 1919

A New York skyscraper is so heavy that it settles into the fourth dimension, taking engineer Arthur Chamberlain and his lovely, but sterotypical, secretary, Miss Woodward, (not to mention the rest of the building’s occupants) back to pre-Columbus Manhattan.

 Well, then, have you ever read anything by Wells? The ‘Time Machine,’ for instance? 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
“The Man Who Met Himself” by Donovan Bayley, The Thrill Book, Mar 1919 [despite title, no time travel ]


No Time Travel.
Move along.
“The Ape-Woman” by John Charles Beecham, Argosy All-Story Weekly, 30 Oct 1920 [despite title, no time travel ]



   If
by Lord Dunsany
First performance: 1921

John Beal, a London businessman, is given a magic crystal that allows him to go back in time and change one act; he is happy with his current life, so he decides to merely go back to catch a train that he was annoyed about missing ten years ago—but the resulting changes are more than he ever expected.

This is the earliest story that I’ve seen where the hero goes back into his earlier body and relives something differently. Some of the later stories of this kind have no actual time travel, but merely give knowledge of an alternate timeline (e.g., Asimov’s “What If?”); others live out the two timelines in parallel (e.g., the 1998 movie Sliding Doors, also set in motion by a missed/caught train); and some, like If, are couched in terms of time travel (e.g., the 1986 movie Peggy Sue Got Married).

 He that taketh this crystal, so, in his hand, at night, and wishes, saying ‘At a certain hour let it be’; the hour comes and he will go back eight, ten, even twelve years if he will, into the past, and do a thing again, or act otherwise than he did. The day passes; the ten years are accomplished once again; he is here once more; but he is what he might have become had he done that one thing otherwise. 




   “The Time Professor”
by Ray Cummings
First publication: Argosy, 1 Jan 1921

It’s not clear whether the man Tubby and his professor friend are time traveling or not, but in the end, I figured they are because in the matter of a few minutes they travel from 9pm in New York to 9pm in Chicago to 9pm in Denver and on and on.

 Time is what keeps everything from happening at once. 




   A Connecticut Yankee
in King Arthur’s Court

adapted by Bernard McConville (Emmett J. Flynn, director)
First release: 14 Mar 1921

I may never see this first movie adaptation since only three of the eight reels are known to still exist. The hero in this comedy version is a 1921 man who has just read Twain’s book and then travels by dream to the time of Camelot without the political carnage that was in the original story.

 


20 items are in the time-travel list for these search settings.
Thanks for visiting my time-travel page, and thanks to the many sources that provided stories and more (see the Links and Credits in the menu at the top). —Michael (
main@colorado.edu)