The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 Related to: Christmas
 from antiquity to 2017















   “A Christmas Carol”
by Charles Dickens
First publication: 1843

Some time ago in my pursuit of time travel, I discovered that I often ran across stories that might well have had time travel based on reviews that I’d read or the title of the story or even that most dreadful of deceits: an author deceiving the poor reader! But in the end, many such stories contained no real time travel. Of necessity, The Big List of Time Travel Adventures rejected such stories for membership, and that was no problem.

However another problem did occur: In my dotage, I kept coming back to these Pretenders, forgetting that they had already been cast aside. In order to avoid wasting valuable List-Creation Time, I decided to catalog the rejects in a separate list of their own, and that separate list appears after the end of the real time travel list.

And yet, even after many discussions of these points with my Grandpa, both of us kept struggling with A Christmas Carol. It’s not hard to see why. Clearly there was a trip to the past:

They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed to hear it!  

Now if that’s not time travel, what is? Ah . . . “Not so fast!” says Ghost!

“These are but shadows of the things that have been,’ said the Ghost. “They have no consciousness of us.”  

Even Ghost Himself admits there’s no interaction with the past. Observation is permitted, but not interaction. They might as well be watching a movie! In general, if you can’t interact with the past and the past can’t see you, then that’s not time travel.

Fair enough, but what about Future Ghost? Isn’t He bringing information from the future to Scrooge? Transfer of information from the future to the past may be boring compared to people-jumping, but it is time travel, so A Christmas Carol must be granted membership in the list after all, don’t you think?

Ah, not so fast again! At one point, Scrooge asks a pertinent question:

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”  

The answer is critical to whether time travel occurs. The difference between things that May Be and things that Will Be is like the difference between Damon Knight and Doris Day: Both are quite creative, but (as far as I know) there’s only one you go to for time travel.

The scarey Future ghost never answers the question, and moreover, Scrooge appears intent on not having the future he sees come true. So, I want to say that Scrooge saw only a prediction or a prophecy or a vision of a possible future—none of which are time travel.

For many years, I stuck by my guns: Viewing the past is not time travel. Visions of a possible future are not time travel. Scrooge was not a time traveler. And yet, Dickens’ planted a seed wherein a major character seemed to go backward or forward in time and even more(!) return to the present, and that seed grew into the industry we now call time travel. For this reason and more, Scrooge and Marley and Tiny Tim, too, have earned their place on The Big List of Time Travel Adventures. So in my old age, perhaps wondering when my ghosts shall visit, I have new guidelines:

  • Reconstructing the past from data that is readily available in the present is not time travel. But if a noninteractive vision of the past is presented with even the barest feeling of time travel, then such a story is awarded a spot on the Big List.
  • Similarly, it’s possible to construct a prediction of the future from data in the present. If we lived in the pre-quantum world of classical physics, we could even strengthen the word prediction, claiming that we have computed what Leibnitz called “the possibility to calculate everything . . .” And yet, once again, I find that noninteractively viewing the future (or a possible future timeline) is sufficiently chrono-atypical that in the absense of any explicit calculating machinery, such stories are now liberally allowed on the Big List.

 If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die. 


Charles Dickens, Master Traveller

Given the evolution of my understanding of time travel described above, Dickens has sentenced me to many happy hours of additional work as the keeper of the Big List, for which I offer my thanks and now officially cite him as an undisputed Master Traveller.


[Dec 1970]
   “Christmas Every Day”
by W.D. Howells
First publication: Christmas Every Day and Other Stories, 1892

A papa tells his little girl about another little girl who asks the Christmas Fairy to make it Christmas every day. She gets her wish, but is it time travel? Probably not in this case since they all continue to live through the year with December 26 being Christmas and Dec 27 being Christmas and December 28 being Christmas . . . And yet, I want to put this story in the Big Boys’ time travel list (rather than the promising-but-not-time-travel list) simple because Howells’ story was the 19th century departure point for so many other repeating-holiday stories a century later.

 After a while turkeys got to be awfully scarce, selling for about a thousand dollars apiece. They got to passing off almost anything for turkeys—even half-grown hummingbirds. And cranberries—well they asked a diamond apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas trees. After a while they had to make Christmas trees out of rags. But there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they couldn't get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poorhouse, except the confectioners, and the storekeepers, and the book-sellers, and they all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to buy. It was perfectly shameful! 

[Oct 2015]


   Lois and Clark
created by Deborah Joy LeVine
First time travel: 26 Mar 1995

Four seasons with 7 time-travel episodes:
  1. Tempus Fugitive (26 Mar 1995) to 1966 (H.G. Wells, Tempus)
  2. And the Answer Is . . . (21 May 1995) time traveler’s diary (Tempus)
  3. Tempus Anyone? (21 Jan 1996) future alternate universe, Tempus
  4. Soul Mates (13 Oct 1996) back to prevent a curse
  5. ’Twas the Night before Mxymas (15 Dec 1996)    Christmas Eve time loop
  6. Meet John Doe (2 Mar 1997) future Tempus runs for president
  7. Lois and Clarks (9 Mar 1997) future Tempus traps Clark

 Lois, did you know that in the future you're revered at the same level as Superman? Why, there are books about you, statues, an interactive game—youre even a breakfast cereal. 

[Sep 1993]
   Chasing Christmas
by Todd Berger (Ron Oliver, director)
First aired: 4 Dec 2005 (mad-for-tv)

Jack Cameron, a Christmas grump, is taken back to 1965 by the ghost of Christmas Past who then decides to stay there, putting Jack and the cosmos at risk. It’s then up to Christmas Present to save the day, although in the end it’s dues ex machina rather than Present who fixes things.

 Past: Charles Dickens was a former target of ours who chose to write a book about his experiences even though we explicitly told him not to.
Jack: But it was a great book—
Past: It was crap, like everything he did! Did you ever read A Tale of Two Cities? ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst . . .’ Make up your mind, Mr. Dickens! 

[Jul 2015]
   Christmas Do-Over
by Trevor Reed Cristow and Jacqueline David (Catherine Cyran, director)
First release: 16 Dec 2006 (made-for-tv)

Kevin, a grump of a divorced father, reluctantly visits his ex-wife’s house on Christmas Day causing his son to wish it were Christmas every day. As in other repeat-Christmas stories (or repeat-a-certain-February-holiday), Kevin wakes up again and again on Christmas Day until he gets it right. And of course, only he knows the day is repeating.

 Dad, it’s so fun having you here. Go ahead and stay: I wish it was Christmas every day. 

[Oct 2015]
   12 Dates of Christmas
by Aaron Mendelsohn, Janet Brownell and Blake J. Harris (James Hayman, director)
First release: 11 Dec 2011 (made-for-tv)

After the requisite bump on the head, Kate Stanton finds herself reliving Christmas Eve over and over, whereupon the romantic hijinks ensue.

 That ship has sailed. You blew your chance. You cant go back and change it. 

[Apr 2012]
   “The Ghosts of Christmas”
by Paul Cornell
First publication: tor.com, 19 Dec 2012

A depressed, pregnant scientist is the first to try her own machine that takes her backward and forward into her own body on a myriad of Christmas Days.

 If I stopped now, I was thinking, the rest of my life would be a tragedy, I would be forever anticipating what was written, or trying . . . hopelessly, yes, there was nothing in the research then that said I had any hope . . . to change it. I would be living without hope. I could do that. But the important thing was what that burden would do to Alice . . . If I was going to be allowed to keep Alice, after what Id seen. 

[Nov 2015]
   Pete’s Christmas
by Peter McKay, Gregg Rossen and Brian Sawyer (Nisha Ganatra, director)
First release: 8 Nov 2013 (made-for-tv)

We all watched this on a visit to Colorado by Hannah and Paul, and everyone agreed that it was a nice (and moralistic) Groundhog Day take-off with 14-year-old Pete reliving Christmas until he gets it right.

 Santa forgot my present? Again?! 

[Sep 2015]

   Kristin’s Christmas Past
aka Last Chance Holiday
by Rachel Stuhler
First release: 23 Nov 2013

Thirty-four-year-old Kristin, miserable and estranged from her family, is given a Christmas bottle of champaign by a New York City liquor store owner, and after taking a sip, she wakes up beside her seventeen-year-old self with a chance to fix all her past wrongs.

Janet and I watched this on Christmas Day in 2015, shortly after watching Rachel Stuhler’s similar but later movie, Back to Christmas.

 Youve had a lotta years to make mistakes: Its my turn now! 

[Dec 2015]
   Xfinity Scrooge Commercial
First publication: 10 Nov 2014

Yes, I remember about Rules #1 and #2 (viewing the past or viewing a possible future is not time travel), but future Tiny Tim does interact with Scrooge and the ghost!

 Now remember, Mr. Scrooge, we can see them, but they cant see us. 


   Back to Christmas
aka Correcting Christmas
by Rachel Stuhler (Tim O’Donnell, director)
First release: 20 Dec 2014

One year after breaking up with her boyfriend on Christmas Eve, still-regretful Ali runs into her fairy godmother at a diner, and the next morning Ali wakes up in the previous year.

Janet and I watched this movie on Black Friday, and at the 23:00 mark, she told me how it would end!

 Isnt this supposed to be like déjà vu where everything happens the same and I get to react differently and fix everything? 

[Nov 2015]
 

Additional Adventures (without Time Travel)

I often see potential time-travel stories that, alas, have no time travel. I track them, so that I don’t process these same chronotypical stories over and over in a time loop of my very own.
Related to: Christmas
from antiquity to 2017

 These arent the droids youre looking for . . . move along. 


 1970
Scrooge adapted by Leslie Bricusse (Ronald Neame, director) [a christmas carol]



 1989
Mr. Belvedere (“A Happy Guy’s Christmas”) by Walter Snee [a christmas carol]


13 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)