The Big List of Time Travel Adventures

 Written by L. Sprague de Camp
 from antiquity to 2017


No Time Travel.
Move along.
“The Isolinguals” by L. Sprague de Camp, Astounding Sep 1937 [ancestral memory ]



   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.





   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. 



No Time Travel.
Move along.
“The Gnarly Man” by L. Sprague de Camp, Unknown, Jun 1939 [immortality ]


No Time Travel.
Move along.
“The Wheels of If” by L. Sprague de Camp, Unknown, Oct 1940 [alternate timelines ]



   “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? 


   “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. 




  
 Reggie Rivers #1
“A Gun for Dinosaur”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Galaxy, Mar 1956

Dinosaur hunters Reggie Rivers (no relation to the Denver Bronco) and his partner, the Raja, organize time-travel safaris in a world with a Hawking-style chronological protection principle.

In 1992, Silverberg asked de Camp to provide one sequel to the by-then classic “A Gun for Dinosaur.’ De Camp complied and used it as a springboard to write seven more stories over the next year. All those stories plus the original Reggie River adventure were published together in the 1993 collection Rivers of Time. After de Camp’s death, Chris Bunch wrote a tenth story as a tribute to the master.

 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. 




   “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. 


   “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 . . . 




  Reggie Rivers #2
“The Big Splash”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jun 1992

Just what caused the dinosaurs’ extinction?

 The scientists had been arguing for half a century over the nature of the K-T Event. Some said a comet or a planetoid hit the Earth; others, that one or more of those big super-volcanoes, like the one that mad your Yellowstone Park, cut loose with an eruption that blanketed the Earth with ash and smoke. 




  Reggie Rivers #3
“The Synthetic Barbarian”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Asimov’s Science Fiction, Sep 1992

Clifton Standish’s motivation for travel to the Mesozoic is not entirely what it seems.

 One day this bloke Standish came in with his friend Hofmann, saying they wanted a time safari to cave-man days, to shoot dinosaurs the way our ancestors used to do. 




  Reggie Rivers #4
“Crocamander Quest”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: The Ultimate Dinosaur, Oct 1992

Long before T. rex was king of the predators, the Triassic was terrorized by the 5-meter long amphibian K. col with a meter-long head, a powerful jaw, and rows of sharp teeth.

 Imagine a newt or salamander expanded to crocodile size, with a huge head for catching smaller fry, and youll have the idea. Might call it a crocamander, eh? 




  Reggie Rivers #5
“The Satanic Illusion”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nov 1992

Murder most foul when religious fundamentalists plan a time safari to disprove the theory of evolution.

 It will demonstrate that all these prehistoric beasts, whereof your clients bring home heads, hides, and photographs, did not live in succession, but all at the same time. 




  Reggie Rivers #6
“The Cayuse”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Expanse, 1993

Apparently, the parasaurolophus does not play well with certain 20th century technology.



  Reggie Rivers #7
“Pliocene Romance”
aka “Miocene Romance”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Analog, Jan 1993

How would an animal rights activist view the hunting of extinct species on Reggie’s time safaris?

 But the beasts my clients hunt on these time safaris are all long extinct anyway. Ending the safaris wouldnt bring any dinosaurs or mastodons back to life. 




  Reggie Rivers #8
“The Mislaid Mastodon”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Analog, May 1993

Wait a minute! Didn’t Reggie lay down the law long ago that his time safaris can’t meddle in human times? So how’s he gonna bring back a Mastodon alive for his latest customer?



  Reggie Rivers #9
“The Honeymoon Dragon”
by L. Sprague de Camp
First publication: Rivers of Time, Nov 1993

Reggie Rivers must watch his back when he accepts an invitation from a journalist to track down a Megalania (kinda like a giant Komodo dragon) in the Quaternary period. This is the only new story in the 1993 Reggie Rivers Collection, Rivers of Time.

 


18 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)