The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 Written by Isaac Asimov
 from antiquity to 2016

Part I of Asimov’s autobiography   “Cosmic Corkscrew”
by Isaac Asimov
Unpublished

“Cosmic Corkscrew” was the first story that Asimov ever wrote for submission to the pulp magazines of the day. In the first part of his autobiography, he describes starting the story, setting it aside, and returning to it some thirteen months later. It wast the story that he took with him on his first visit to John Campbell, inquiring about why the July 1938 Astounding was late arriving. Alas, the story was rejected and then lost, but it did have time travel!

 In it, I viewed time as a helix (this is, as something like a bedspring). Someone could cut across from one turn directly to the next, thus moving into the future by some exact interval, but being incapable of traveling one day less into the future. (I didnt know the term at the time, but what I had done was to “quantize” time travel.) 

In Memory Yet Green, Part I of Asimov’s autobiography

[Jul 1972]
   “Time Pussy”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Astounding, Apr 1942 (as by George E. Dale)

Mr. Mac tells of the troubles of trying to preserve the body of a four-dimensional cat.

 ‘Four-dimensional, Mr. Mac? But the fourth dimension is time. I had learned that the year before, in the third grade. 

[Jul 1972]


   The Thiotimoline Stories
by Isaac Asimov
First story: Astounding, Mar 1948

I don’t know if this is time travel or not, but it certainly violates causality when the time for thiotimoline to dissolve in water is minus 1.12 seconds.
  1. The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline (Mar 1948) Astounding
  2. The Micropsychiatric Properties of Thiotimoline (Dec 1953) Astounding
  3. Thiotimoline and the Space Age (Oct 1960) Analog
  4. Thiotimoline to the Stars (Nov 1973) Analog
  5. Antithiotimoline (Dec 1977) Analog

 Mr. Asimov, tell us something about the thermodynamic properties of the compound thiotimoline. 

—Professor Ralph S. Halford to Asimov at the conclusion of his Ph.D. oral exam on May 20, 1948.

[Apr 2012]
   “The Red Queen’s Race”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jan 1949

By my count, this was Asimov’s third foray into time travel, but his first as Dr. Asimov. In the story, the dead Elmer Tywood also had a Ph.D. and a plan to translate a modern chemistry textbook into Greek before sending it back in time to inaugurate a Golden Age of science long before it actually occurred.

 There was a short silence, then he said: “Ill tell you. Why dont you check with his students?”
I lifted my eyebrows: “You mean in his classes?”
He seemed annoyed: “No, for Heavens sake. His research students! His doctoral candidates!”
 

[Jul 1972]
   Pebble in the Sky
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: 1950

Joseph Schwartz takes one step from 1949 to the year 847 of the Galactic Era, where he meets archaeologist Bel Arvardan, Earth scientist Dr. Shekt, the doctor’s beautiful daughter Pola, and a plot to destroy all non-Earth life in the galaxy.

 He lifted his foot to step over a Raggedy Ann doll smiling through its neglect as it lay there in the middle of the walk, a foundling not yet missed. He had not quite put his foot down again . . . 

[Nov 1970]

   “Day of the Hunters”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Future Science Fiction, Nov 1950

A midwestern professor tells a half-drunken story of time travel and the real cause of the dinosaur extinction.

 Because I built a time machine for myself a couple of years ago and went back to the Mesozoic Era and found out what happened to the dinosaurs. 

[Jul 1976]
Button Gwinnett plays the title role in this story.   “Button, Button”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Startling Stories, Jan 1953

Harry Smith has an eccentric scientist uncle who needs to make some money from his astonishing invention that can bring one gram of material from the past.

 Do you remember the time a few weeks back when all of upper Manhattan and the Bronx were without electricity for twelve hours because of the damndest overload cut-off in the main power board? I wont say we did that, because I am in no mood to be sued for damages. But I will say this: The electricity went off when my uncle Otton turned the third knob. 

[Jul 1976]
   “The Immortal Bard”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Universe Science Fiction, May 1954

Dr. Phineas Welch tells an English professor a disturbing story about a matter of temperal transference and a student in the professor’s Shakespeare class.

 I did. I needed someone with a universal mind; someone who knew people well enough to be able to live with them centuries way from his own time. Shakespeare was the man. Ive got his signature. As a memento, you know. 

[Jul 1976]
   The End of Eternity
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: 1955

Andrew Harlan, Technician in the everwhen of Eternity, falls in love and starts a chain of events that can mean the end of everything.

 He had boarded the kettle in the 575th Century, the base of operations assigned to him two years earlier. At the time the 575th had been the farthest upwhen he had ever traveled. Now he was moving upwhen to the 2456th Century. 

[Apr 1968]
   “The Message”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Feb 1956

Time traveler and historian George tries to travel back to World War II without making any changes to the world.

 George was deliriously happy. Two years of red tape and now he was finally back in the past. Now he could complete his paper on the social life of the foot soldier of World War II with some authentic details. 

[Jul 1976]

   “Gimmicks Three”
aka “The Brazen Locked Room”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Nov 1956

Isidore Wellby makes a timely pact with the devil’s demon.

 Ten years of anything you want, within reason, and then youre a demon. Youre one of us, with a new name of demonic potency, and many privileges beside. Youll hardly know youre damned. 

[Jul 1976]
   “Blank!”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Infinity Science Fiction, Jun 1957

Dr. Edward Barron has a theory that time is arranged like a series of particles that can be traveled up or down; his colleague and hesitant collaborator August Pointdexter isn’t so sure about the application of the theory to reality.

 An elevator doesnt involve paradoxes. You cant move from the fifth floor to the fourth and kill your grandfather as a child. 

[Jul 1976]

   “A Loint of Paw”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Aug 1957

Master criminal Montie Stein has found a way around the statute of limitations.

 It introduced law to the fourth dimension. 

[Jul 1976]
The story also appeared in this 1959 collection.   “The Ugly Little Boy”
aka “Lastborn”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Galaxy, Sep 1958

Edith Fellowes is hired to look after young Timmie, a Neanderthal boy brought from the past, but never able to leave the time statis bubble where he lives.

 He was a very ugly little boy and Edith Fellowes loved him dearly. 

[Mar 1976]
   “A Statue for Father”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Satellite Science Fiction, Feb 1959

A wealthy man’s father was a time-travel researcher who died some years ago, but not before leaving a legacy for all mankind.

 Theyve put up statues to him, too. The oldest is on the hillside right here where the discovery was made. You can just see it out the window. Yes. Can you make out the inscription? Well, were standing at a bad angle. No matter. 

[Dec 2009]

   “Unto the Fourth Generation”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Apr 1959

During an ordinary day of business, Sam Marten is obsessivly drawn to different men named Levkowich, each with a different spelling.

When I began putting together this Big List in 2005, I started with all the Asimov time travel stories that I could remember. Somehow I forgot about this story which I first read in 1973 in Nightfall and Other Stories. But then, while scouring the 1950s back issues of F&SF for more obscure stories, there it was: Sam Marten’s great, great grandfather brought from his deathbed to meet Sam, and there, also, was a moment of time travel for Sam himself.

Two new sentences were added at the end of the original story for the reprinting in Asimov’s collection, so I thought it would be appropriate to quote those new sentences here:

 Yet somehow he knew that all would be well with him. Somehow, as never before, he knew. 

[Dec 1973]

   “Obituary”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Aug 1959

The wife of Lancelot Stebbins (not his real name) tells of the difficulties of being married to a man who is obsessively driven to find fame as a physicist, even to the point of worrying about what his obituary will say—but perhaps time travel can put that worry to rest.

 At any rate, he turned full on me. His lean body shook and his dark eyebrows pulled down over his deep-set eyes as he shrieked at me in a falsetto, “But Ill never read my obituary. Ill be deprived even of that.” 

[Apr 1979]
   “The Covenant”
by Anderson, Asimov, Sheckley, Leinster and Bloch
First publication: Fantastic, Jul 1960

Captain Ban, son of the Warden, is told by an oracle that he alone must fly to the island stronghold of those masters of time, the Cloud-People.

 Your world is a slope and you roll down it all the time. Down and down until you wear out and die. 

[Dec 2003]
   “Big Game”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Before the Golden Age, 1974

Jack Trent hears a half-drunken story of time travel and the real cause of the dinosaur extinction.

Asimov wrote this story in 1941, but it was lost until I found it in the Boston University archives in the early ’70s. Okay, maybe that fan who found it wasn’t me, but it could have been!

 Jack looked at Hornby solemnly. “You invented a time machine, did you?”
   “Long ago.” Hornby smiled amiably and filled his glass again. “Better than the ones those amateurs at Stanford rigged up. I’ve destroyed it, though. Lost interest.”
 

[Oct 1974]
   “Birth of a Notion”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Amazing, Apr 1976

The world’s first time traveler, Simeon Weill, goes back to 1925 and gives some ideas to Hugo.

 That the first inventor of a workable time machine was a science fiction enthusiast is by no means a coincidence. 

[Apr 1976]
   “Fair Exchange?”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Asimov’s SF Adventure Magazine, Fall 1978

John Sylva has invented a temporal transference device that allows his friend Herb to enter the mind of a man in 1871 London and to thereby attend three performances of a lost Gilbert & Sullivan play.

I read this story as I was starting my graduate studies in Pullman in 1978. Sadly, there was no second issue of Asimov’s SF Adventure Magazine.

 We cant be sure how accurate our estimates of time and place are, but you seem to resonate with someone in London in 1871. 

[Aug 1978]
   “The Winds of Change”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Speculations: 17 Stories . . ., 1982

Jonas Dinsmore is not half the physicist as his colleagues, the politically astute Adams and the brilliant Muller, but in their presence, he claims to have figured out how to interpret Muller’s Grand Unified Theory to allow time travel.

 Time-travel, in the sense of going backward to change reality, is not only technologically impossible now, but it is theoretically impossible altogether. 

[Jul 1995]
   “The Turning Point”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: The Drabble Project, 1 Apr 1988

In exactly 100 words, Madison goes back in time to meet himself at the turning point of his young life.

Thanks to Marc Richardson for sending this one to me.

 He was a clerk. 

[Mar 2012]
   “The Instability”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: The London Observer, 1 Jan 1989

Professor Firebrenner explains to Atkins how they can go forward in time to study a red dwarf and then return back to Earth.

 Of course, but how far can the Sun and Earth move in the few hours it will take us to observe the star? 

[Dec 1999]
   “The Time Traveler”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Nov 1990

The little demon Azazel (the hero of many an Asimov tale) sends a world-renowned writer travels back in time to see his first writing teacher at a 1934 school that is remarkably like Asimov’s own Boys High in Brooklyn.

 “Because,” and here he struck his chest a resounding thump, “the burning memories of youthful snubs and spurnings remain unavenged and, indeed, forever unavengable.” 

[Dec 1990]
   “Robot Visions”
by Isaac Asimov
First publication: Asimov’s Science Fiction, Apr 1991

A team of Temporalists send robot RG-32 200 years into the future where it seems to almost all that mankind is doing better than expected on Earth and in space.

 RG-32 was a rather old-fashioned robot, eminently replaceable. He could observe and report, perhaps without quite the ingenuity and penetration of a human being—but well enough. He would be without fear, intent only on following orders, and he could be expected to tell the truth. 

[May 1991]
   The Ugly Little Boy
aka Child of Time
novelization by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
First publication: Sep 1992

The story of Ms. Fellowes and Timmie is augmented by the story of what his tribe did during his time away.

 He was a very ugly little boy and Edith Fellowes loved him more dearly than anything in the world. 

[Nov 1992]
 

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.
Written by Isaac Asimov
from antiquity to 2016

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


 1952
“What If—” by Isaac Asimov [viewing alternate pasts]



 1984
“Writing Time” by Isaac Asimov [despite title, no time travel]


29 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)