The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 Written by L. Sprague de Camp
 from antiquity to 2016

   Language for Time Travelers
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1938

This essay convinced me to add at least a few nonfiction works to my list. After all, why not? De Camp interleaves a few fictional vignettes with thoughts on how language might change over the next few centuries. For me, it shows how well the time-travel paradigm had been established by 1939.

As a bonus, this essay appeared in the very issue of Astounding that has the final installment of The Legion of Time and which caused all the trouble in my story “Saving Astounding.”

 Wah lenksh? Inksh lenksh, coss. Wah you speak? Said, sah-y, daw geh-ih. Daw, neitha. You fresh? Jumm? 


L. Sprague de Camp, Master Traveller

Even before de Camp produced the award winning Lest Darkness Fall, my Grandpa Main had identified him as a Master Traveller based on “Language for Time Travelers,” which was the first of many de Camp essays. Appropriately enough, de Camp’s enjoyable autobiography is titled Time and Chance.


[Jul 2001]
   Lest Darkness Fall
by L. Sprague de Camp
First published as complete novel: Unknown, Dec 1939

During a thunderstorm, archaeologist Martin Padway is thrown back to Rome of 535 A.D., whereupon he sets out to stop the coming Dark Ages.

 Padway feared a mob of religious enthusiasts more than anything on earth, no doubt because their mental processes were so utterly alien to his own. 

[May 2012]
   “The Best-Laid Scheme”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Astounding, Feb 1941

I like the verb that de Camp coined for forward time travel—vanwinkling—but when the hero, De Witt, chases Hedges back in time, they start changing things and everyone (including them) remembers both the old time and the new. It’s beyond me to grok that form of time travel, but I give credit for creativity.

 The problem of backward-jumping has not hitherto been solved. It involves an obvious paradox. If I go back and slay my own grandfather, what becomes of me? 

[Mar 2012]
   “Some Curious Effects of Time Travel”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Astounding, Apr 1942

The very first Probability Zero story in Astounding took us on a romp back in time by the members of the Drinkwhiskey Institute to obtain saleable specimens of Pleistocene fauna, we learn that time travel has an effect on aging (coincidentally, the same effect described by Gaspar in Chapter 9 of El Anacronópete).

 A curious feature of time travel back from the present is that one gets younger and younger, becoming successively a youth, a child, an embryo and finally nothing at all. 

[Nov 2012]




   The Reggie Rivers Stories
by L. Sprague de Camp
First story: Galaxy, Mar 1956

Dinosaur hunters Reggie Rivers (no relation to the Denver Bronco) and his partner, the Raja, organize time-travel expeditions in a world with a Hawking-style chronological protection principle. The last of these stories is by Chris Bunch:
  1. A Gun for Dinosaur (Mar 1956) Galaxy
  2. The Big Splash (Jun 1992) Asimovs
  3. The Synthetic Barbarian (Sep 1992) Asimovs
  4. Crocamander Quest (Oct 1992) The Ultimate Dinosaur
  5. The Satanic Illusion (Nov 1992) Asimovs
  6. The Cayuse (Jan 1993) Expanse
  7. Pliocene Romance (Jan 1993) Analog
  8. The Mislaid Mastodon (May 1993) Analog
  9. Miocene Romance (Nov 1993) Rivers of Time
  10. Rivers of Time (Nov 1993) Rivers of Time
  11. The Honeymood Dragon (Nov 1993)    Rivers of Time
  12. Gun, Not for Dinosaur (Nov 1993) Rivers of Time

 Oh, Im no four-dimensional thinker; but, as I understand it, if people could go back to a more recent time, their actions would affect our own history, which would be a paradox or contradiction of facts. Cant have that in a well-run universe, you know. 

—from “A Gun for Dinosaur”

[Nov 1995]
   “Aristotle and the Gun”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Astounding, Feb 1958

When Sherman Weaver’s time machine project is abruptly canceled, he takes matters into his own hands, visiting Aristotle with the plan to ensure that the philosopher takes the scientific method to heart so strongly that the dark ages will never come and science will progress to a point where it appreciates Sherman’s particular genius.

 Like his colleagues, Aristotle never appreciated the need for constant verification. Thus, though he was married twice, he said that men have more teeth than women. He never thought to ask either of his wives to open her mouth for a count. 

[May 2012]
   “Balsamo’s Mirror”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Jun 1976

MIT student W. Wilson Newbury has a creepy Lovecraftian friend who is enamored with the 18th century, so naturally they visit an Armenian gypsy who makes them passengers in the bodies of an 18th century pauper and his father.

This story gave me a game that I play of pretending that I have just arrived as a passenger in my own body with no control over my actions or observations. How long does it take to figure out who and where I am? So, I enjoyed that aspect of the story, but I have trouble reading phonetically spelled dialects.

In his autobiography, de Camp says he based the setting of the story on his time as a graduate student at MIT in 1932, when Lovecraft (whom de Camp didn’t know) lived in nearby Providence: “I put H.P. Lovecraft himself, unnamed, into the story and stressed the contrast between his idealized eighteenth-century England and what he would have found if he had actually been translated back there. To get the dialect right, I read Fielding’s Tom Jones.”

 I didnt say that we could or should go back to pre-industrial technology. The changes since then were inevitable and irreversible. I only said . . . 

[Apr 2012]
 

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 L. Sprague de Camp
from antiquity to 2016

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


 1937
“The Isolinguals” by L. Sprague de Camp [ancestral memory]



 1939
“The Gnarly Man” by L. Sprague de Camp [immortality]



 1940
“The Wheels of If” by L. Sprague de Camp [alternate timelines]


10 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)