The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 1920 to 1927


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.



   “The Devil of the Western Sea”
by Philip M. Fisher
First publication: Argosy, 5 Aug 1922

I was always drawn to the idea behind The Final Countdown (1980) where a modern warship is thrown back to World War II, but the execution of that idea was weak in the made-for-tv movie. Here is a story, predating the movie by 58 years, in which a destroyer, Shoshone, shows up amongst a fleet of Spainish galleons near Panama in the year 1564. The story is well-written, but the captain’s behavior seems unrealistic to me.

 Twelve of them I counted, twelve ships in a fleet. Men of war? Surely not—not men of war. Men of war in this day do not carry sail. And yet—merchantmen? Merchantmen do not go to sea in peace times in groups of twelve. 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
The Man from Beyond by Harry Houdini and Coolidge Streeter, 2 Apr 1922 [long sleep ]

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Collier’s, 27 May 1922 [backward aging ]



   The Clockwork Man
by E.V. Odle
First publication: 1923

A peculiar man with mechanical mannerisms appears at a cricket match spouting nonsense and later causing headaches throughout the village until Dr. Allingham finally talks to him and discovers that the origin of the man with clockwork devices implanted in his head is some 8000 years in the future.

 “Perhaps I ought to explain,” he continued. “You see, Im a clockwork man.” 


   The Collapse of Homo Sapiens
by P. Anderson Graham
First publication: 1923

The narrator longs to see history develop over centuries, so when a Being offers to take him into the future, he agrees and is taken to a dystopian world of 2120 A.D. when mankind is on the verge of extinction.

 Autumn had passed into winter before I mustered courage to get into communication with the Being to whom I had previously had recourse. 




   Not in Our Stars
by Conrad Arthur Skinner (as by Michael Maurice)
First publication: 1923

After some scientific mumbo-jumbo, Felix Menzies wakes up in a jail cell on the day before his execution for murdering the man he wrongly thought was his wife’s lover, and then he starts waking up on each previous morning, whereupon he begins to think he can cheat Destiny by not murdering the guy.

 If he did meet Savile, he was prepared to shake hands with him in the old way, and to realize what a neurotic fool he had been: also that Destiny had made an idiot of itself with the careless blundering born of the knowledge that nobody would ever know, nobody, that is, except himself; and, of course, Destiny safely relied on the assumption that nobody would believe him. 




   Torpeda czasu
English title: Time Torpedo (translated from Czech)
by Antoni Słonimski
First publication: circa 1924

Torpeda czasu is important enough to list even though I’ve read only summaries, I’ve never found a translation, and I’m uncertain about the date. The notes accompanying this particular cover indicate a 1923 publication date, but elsewhere the date of 1924 is common, and Wikipedia has 1926. Never mind!

The short novel’s heroes—Professor Pankton and his beautiful daughter Haydnee, historian Tolna, and journalist Hersey—set out from the year 2123 to change the Napoleonic Wars, starting with the French Revolution and aiming to fix matters so that mankind can advance intellectually without the hindrence of war. But the outcome, I am told, is even more miserable than the original bloody history.

Should I ever track down a copy, I shall need help from my Polish colleagues in computer science to translate the story to English.

 Nie zapominajcie, że to Francuzi, najwaleczniejszy naród europejski, że to są ludzie, których brawura i dzielność oślepia.

[Do not forget that the French, bravest among all the European nationalities, are a people blinded by their very own braggadocio and past prowess.] 




   The Man Who Mastered Time
by Ray Cummings
First publication: Argosy, 12 Jul to 9 Aug 1924

At a meeting of the Scientific Club, a chemist and his son, Loto, describe how they were able to view a captive woman in the future, so now Loto is going to use his time machine to rescue her.

 “Time,” said George, “why I can give you a definition of time. Its what keeps everything from happening at once.” 

—from the opening line of the book, although Cummings wrote a similar line in Chapter 5 of his earlier work, The Girl in the Golden Atom (in the same setting of the Scientific Club), which had no time travel, but only different rates of time passage.



No Time Travel.
Move along.
“The Pikestaffe Case” by Algernon Blackwood, Tongues of Fire and Other Sketches, 1924 [people-trapping dimensions ]



  
 The World Below #1
The Amphibians: A Romance of 500,000 Years
by S. Fowler Wright
First publication: 1925

After two time travelers head to the far future and never return, the story’s narrator pursues them and encounters one monstrous being after another, including, of course, the Amphibian himself, all as a setting to write about morality.

The work was reprinted in 1930 as the first part of The World Below along with a second part (later called The Dwellers.

 Its true enough, what theyve told you, as far as we can tell it. As to theories of time and space, I know no more than you do. I used to think they were obvious. Ive heard the Professor talk two nights a week for three years, and Ive realised that it isnt all quite as simple as it seemed, though I dont get much further. But the next rooms a fact. We lay things down on the central slab, and the room goes dark, and we go back in two minutes, and it gets light again, and theyre still there. And the Professor says hes projected them 500,000 years ahead in the interval, and they dont look any the worse for the journey. 






   Felix the Cat
created by Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer
First time travel: 23 Aug 1925

Perhaps the first time travel in cartoons is Felix in “Trifles with Time,” where the silent, surreal cat negotiates with Father Time for a trip to a better age. After appropriate payment, Father Time obliges and Felix goes back to a stone age with dinosaurs.

 A cat cant live nowadays—turn me back to a better age, just for a day. 




   The Road to Yesterday
adapted by Jeanie MacPherson and Beulah Marie Dix (Cecille B. DeMille, director)
First release: 15 Nov 1925

Although Dix was one of the writers of this silent movie, I didn't see much resemblance between the movie and Dix’s earlier play of the same name. In the movie, bickering newlyweds Kenneth and Malena Paulton are thrown back to previous lives in Elizabethan England where they are a knight and a gypsy.

 I know I love you, Ken! But today—during the marriage service—something seemed to reach out of the Past that made me—afraid! 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
The Dream by H.G. Wells [just a dream ]

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald [just a wish ]

from the 1946 production by the Progressive Players Amateur Drama Company (Gateshead, England)

   Berkeley Square
by John L. Balderston and Jack C. Squire
First performance: 6 Oct 1926

Based on Henry James’s The Sense of the Past, Balderston’s play follows modern-day American Peter Standish who exchanges place with his American Revolution ancestor. Leslie Howard starred in the 1929 Broadway run. Some sources list Jack C. Squire as a coauthor.

 [The same room, at the same time, on the same day, in 1928. Most of the furniture remains, but the tone of time has settled upon it, and there are some changes.] 

—from the stage directions


   “The Assault on Milagro Castle”
by J.M. Hiatt
First publication: Weird Tales, Nov 1926

The narrator, visiting Count Ramon Nuñez in Spain hears a story of a group of attacking Moors who simply disappeared 700 years ago, a story he doesn't believe until the same group reappears and continues the attack.

   The Strange Inventor
by Mark Powell Hyde
First publication: 1927

Young Johnny Devlin falls in with Mr. Merlin who first sends him on adventures with various inventions, then sends him to Arthurian England (where Mr. Merlin is Merlin), and finally sends him to the future (where Mr. Merlin rules the world).

   “The Lost Continent”
by Cecil B. White
First publication: Amazing, Jul 1927

Mad scientist Joseph Lamont builds a time machine to prove his brother’s theories about Atlantis, and then he takes a passenger ship back 12,000 years.

   The Time-Raider
by Edmond Hamilton
First publication: Weird Tales, Oct 1927–Jan 1928

Our narrator, Wheeler, and a great scientist, Landin, listen to Cannell’s story of being abducted and rapidly taken forward three years in time by a shapeless form, and when Cannell is again taken, they build a time machine to follow him.

 Held in its shapeless form were men, who hung helpless in its grasp. 


   “The Astounding Discoveries of Doctor Mentiroso”
by A. Hyatt Verrill
First publication: Amazing, Nov 1927

Professor Feromeno Mentiroso of the Universidad Santo Tomas argues with his friend about the time-traveling effects of rapidly traveling through many time zones.

 Don Feromeno nodded and smiled. “Then let us assume that your purely imaginary aircraft is capable of traveling at the rate of 24,000 miles per hour or that, in an hour's time, you can circumnavigate the earth. In that case, starting from Lima at noon on Monday, and rushing eastward, you would arrive in Barcelona at 6.30 P. M. on Monday, though your watch would show it to be 12.15 P. M. You would reach Calcutta at 1 A. M. Tuesday, although still only 12.20 on Monday by your watch. At Hawaii you would find time had leaped back to 7.30 A. M. Monday, despite the fact that your watch showed 12.45 of the same day, and at 1 P.  on Monday by your watch you would be back in Lima where the clocks would prove to that it was 2 P. M. despite the fact that you had been absent only one hour. 


 


24 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)