Time-Travel Fiction

  Storypilot’s Big List of Adventures in Time Travel


“The Pink Caterpillar”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Adventure, Feb 1945
After Norm Harker tells of a magic man who can bring you back a single item from the future (for the right price), Anthony Boucher’s detective Fergus O’Breen tops the story with the tale of how he figured out why a dead American living in Mexico liked to call himself a doctor. [Dec 2012]

 At least that’s the firm belief everywhere on the island: a tualala can go forward in time and bring you back any single item you specify, for a price. We used to spend the night watches speculating on what would be the one best thing to order. 


Classic Comics’
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

adapted by Jack Hearne
First publication: Classic Comics #24, Sep 1945

Jack Hearne’s illustrations provided an abbreviated but accurate adaptation of Hank Morgan’s medieval travails. [Jun 2011]

 Ah! I’ve got it! On June 21st, 528, there was a total eclipse of the sun, but in 1879 there was none...now to wait...that will prove everything! 


“Mr. Lupescu”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Weird Tales, Sep 1945

Time travel makes a cameo appearance in this story in which young Bobby tells his Uncle Alan about his godfather, Mr. Lupescu, who has a great big red nose, red gloves, red eyes, and little red wings that twitch. [Jan 2013]

 But one of Mr. Lupescu’s friends, now, was captain of a ship, only it went in time, and Mr. Lupescu took trips with him and came back and told you all about what was happening this very minute five hundred years ago. 


“What You Need”
by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore (as by Lewis Padgett)
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Oct 1945
Reporter Tim Carmichael visits Peter Talley, a shopkeeper on Park Avenue who provides for a select clientele things that they will need in the future.

I never include prescience stories in my list, but like Heinlein’s “Life-Line,” this one is an exception. [Apr 2012]

   


“The Chronokinesis of Jonathan Hull”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1946
Private Eye Fergus O’Breen is back for his third and final encounter with time travel, this time with a time traveler who shows up dead in his room one day and is alive and walking in a stilted manner the next. In the process of explaining himself, the traveler also displays knowledge of Boucher’ traveler in “Barrier” and also of Breen’s other time travel encounters. [Dec 2012]

 And now, I realize, Mr. O’Breen, why I was inclined to trust you the moment I saw yoiur card. It was through a fortunately preserved letter of your sister’s, which found its way into our archives, that we knew of the early fiasco of Harrison Partridge and your part therein. We knew, too, of the researches of Dr. Derringer, and how he gave up in despair after his time traveler failed to return, having encountered who knows what unimaginable future barrier. 


“Film Library”
by A.E. van Vogt
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jul 1946
Each time a film goes through Peter Caxton’s projector at Tichenor Collegiate, it gets replaced with a different film from the future.

Van Vogt combined this with two other stories and a little fix-up material for his 1970 publication of Quest for the Future[Apr 2012]

 Not that he would necessarily have suspected anyway that he had come into possession of films that had been made more than fifty years in the future. 


Prize Comics’ Frankenstein
by Dirk Briefer
First time travel: Jul 1946


I’m always on the lookout for early depictions outside of sf with a climb-in-able time machine where you set the dials and go. Briefer’s humorous Frankenstein had just a such a machine in a 9-page story in issue #3 (Jul 1946). Frankenstein runs into Professor Goniph, and they travel in his machine to 2046 and 1646, although there is a twist at the end. [Jan 2012]

 It works!! It works!!! I am a genius!! We are in 2046!!! 

The story also appeared in this 1982 collection.
“Blind Time”
by George O. Smith
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1946
Oak Tool Works has developed a handy time treatment whereby a portion of any tool can be sent into the future for a limited time, but it's movements during that time must exactly mirror the movements of the rest of the tool during the current time. Peter Wright is the insurance adjuster who must examine an accident that the treatment is going to cause at 8pm. [Mar 2012]

 There is that element of wonder, too, you know. Every man in the place knows that someone is going to get clipped with that crane. 


“Vintage Season”
by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1946

More and more strange people are appearing each day in and around Oliver Wilson’s home; the explanation from the euphoric redhead leads him to believe they are time travelers gathering for an important event. [Jun 2011]

 Looking backward later, Oliver thought that in that moment, for the first time clearly, he began to suspect the truth. But he had no time to ponder it, for after the brief instant of enmity the three people from—elsewhere—began to speak all at once, as if in a belated attempt to cover something they did not want noticed. 


Timely Comics
founded by Martin Goodman
First time travel: All Winners Comics 21, Winter ’46-47

Timely was the predecessor to Atlas which became Marvel Comics in the ’60s. Some of their superheroes survived that transition (Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, and an android Human Torch, among others). I’ve only begun to dig up their time travel, finding one issue of All Winners Comics where Captain America and the All Winners Squad do battle with a man from 1,000,000 A.D. Also, in 1948, the Timely superhuman, comical boxer, Powerhouse Pepper, visited the pilgrims via time machine (#4, Sep 1948). [Jun 2012]

 Project yourselves for into the fture...to the year one million A.D. The Earth is almost unfit for human life! 
—Captain America in All Winners Comics 21


“The Man Who Never Grew Young”
by Fritz Leiber, Jr.
First publication: in Night’s Black Agents, 1947

Without knowing why, our narrator describes his life as a man who stays the same for millennia, even as others, one-by-one, are disintered, slowly grow younger and younger.

The story is soft-spoken but moving, and for me, it was a good complement to T.H. White’s backward-time-traveler, Merlyn. [Apr 2012]

 It is the same in all we do. Our houses grow new and we dismantle them and stow the materials inconspicuously away, in mine and quarry, forest and field. Our clothes grow new and we put them off. And we grow new and forget and blindly seek a mother. 


“Time and Time Again”
by H. Beam Piper
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Apr 1947


At 43 years old, Allan Hartley is caught in a flash-bomb at the Battle of Buffalo, only to wake up in his own 13-year-old body on the day before Hiroshima.

Piper’s first short story impacted me because I fantasize about the same thing (perhaps we all do). What would you do? Who would you tell? What would you try to change? What would you fear changing? [Jan 2012]

 Here; if you can remember the next thirty years, suppose you tell me when the War’s going to end. This one, I mean. 


“Tomorrow and Tomorrow”
by Ray Bradbury
First publication: Fantastic Adventures, May 1947
When a typewriter appears on the floor of his boarding room and begins typing messages from the future, down-on-his-luck Steve Temple thinks that it must be his old jokester friend Harry—but he’s wrong about that, and the fate of the world 500 years down the line now depends on what Steve does about the upcoming election.

“Tomorrow and Tomorrow” doesn’t have the notority of that other Bradbury story about time travel and an elected official, but even though this one’s riddled with ridiculous ideas on time, it does accurately predict text messaging! [Apr 2012]

 Sorry. Not Harry. Name is Ellen Abbot. Female. 26 years old. Year 2442. Five feet ten inches tall. Blonde hair, blue eyes—semantician and dimentional research expert. Sorry. Not Harry. 


“Errand Boy”
by William Tenn
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Jun 1947
When invention mogul Malcolm Blyn spots an unusual can of paint that a young boy brings to his factory, he begins to wonder whether it came from the future and what else the future may hold. [Apr 2012]

 I hand him an empty can and say I want it filled with green paint—it should have orange polka dots. 


“Meddler’s Moon”
by George O. Smith
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1947
Joseph Hedgerly travels back in time some 60 years to ensure that his grandfather marries the right woman. [Mar 2012]

 Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan. If our lives are written in the Book of Acts, then no effort is worth the candle. For there will be those who will eternally strive to be good and yet shall fail. There will be others who care not nor strive not and yet will thrive. Why? Only because it is so written. And by whom? By the omnipotent God. Who, my friends, has then written into our lives both the good and the evil that we do ourselves! He moves us as pawns, directs us to strive against odds, yet knows that we must fail, because he planned it that way. 




DC Funny Comics
First time travel: All Funny Comics 20, Nov 1947
It seems that everyone in the DC stable wanted to get in on the road to time travel including the earliest that I’ve found so far in the Nov 1947 issue of All Funny Comics. Later, there were Bob Hope (in Bob Hope 43) and Jerry Lewis (in Jerry Lewis 43 and 54). In Bob’s story, he gets sent into the future by Carolyn Spooner. It also had a cover with Bob as a caveman. As I find others, I’ll list them in my time-travel comic books page. [Jun 2012]

 This can’t be the stone age!—I’m just putty in the hands of a girl like you! 
—from the cover of Bob Hope 43


Brick Bradford Movie Serial
by George Plympton, Arthur Hoerl and Lewis Clay
First release: 18 Dec 1947


In fifteen episodes, Brick travels to the moon to protect a rocket interceptor while his pals take the time top to the 18th century to find a critical hidden formula. [Dec 2010]

 Maybe tomorrow you’ll be visiting your great, great grandmother. 


“Me, Myself and I”
by William Tenn
First publication: Planet Stories, Winter 1947

As an experiment, a scientist sends unemployed strongman Cartney back 110 million years to make a small change. He makes this first change, which changes things in the present, and then he must go back again and again, whereupon he meets himself and him.

I keep finding earlier and earlier stories with the idea of destroying mankind by squishing a bug, and I am wondering whether this is the earliest linchpin bug (although that doesn’t actually happen here). [Jan 2012]

 Maybe tomorrow you’ll be visiting your great, great grandmother. 


“The Monster”
aka "The Brighton Monster"
by Gerald Kersh
First publication: Saturday Evening Post, 21 Feb 1948
In April of 1947, a man makes a connection between a tattooed Japanese man and a monster that washed up in Brighton two centuries earlier. [Jan 2014]

 I should never have taken the trouble to pocket his Account of a Strange Monster Captured Near Brighthelmstone in the County of Sussex on August 6th in the Year of Our Lord 1745. 




The Thiotimoline Stories
by Isaac Asimov
First story: Astounding Science Fiction, 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. [Apr 2012]
 TitlePublication 
“The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline”Astounding, Mar 1948
“The Micropsychiatric Properties of Thiotimoline”Astounding, Dec 1953
“Thiotimoline and the Space Age”Analog, Oct 1960
“Thiotimoline to the Stars”Analog, Nov 1973
“Antithiotimoline”Analog, Dec 1977

 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.


“Time Trap”
by Charles Harness
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Aug 1948
The story presents a fixed series of events, which includes a man disappearing at one point in the future and (from his point of view) reappearing at the start of the story to then interact with himself, his own wife, and the evil alien.

It’s nice that there’s no talk of the universe exploding when he meets himself, but even so, the story suffers from a murkiness that is often part of time-travel stories that are otherwise enjoyable. The murkiness stems from two points: (1) That somehow the events are repeating over and over again—but from whose viewpoint? (2) The events are deterministic and must be acted out exactly the same each time. I enjoy clever stories that espouse the viewpoint of the second item (“By His Bootstraps”). But this does not play well with the first item, and (as with many stories), Harness did not address that conflict nor the consequent issue of free will. Still, I enjoyed the story and wish I’d met Harness when I traveled to Penn State University in the spring of 1982. [Jul 2011]

 But searching down time, Troy-Poole now found only the old combination of Troy and Poole he knew so well. Hundreds, thousands, millions of them, each preceding the other. As far back as he could sense, there was always a Poole hovering over a Troy. Now he would become the next Poole, enmesh the next Troy in the web of time, and go his own way to bloody death. 


“The Brooklyn Project”
by William Tenn
First publication: Planet Stories, Fall 1948

So far, this is the earliest story I’ve read with the thought that a miniscule change in the past can cause major changes to our time. The setting is a press conference where the Secretary of Security presents the time-travel device to twelve reporters. [Jul 2011]

 ...shifting a molecule of hydrogen that in our past really was never shifted. 


ACG Anthoology Comics
founded by Benjamin W. Sangor
First time travel: Adventures into the Unknown 4, Apr 1949

ACG had a handful of weird story comic books including Adventures into the Unknown, Forbidden Worlds and Forbidden Worlds. I picked up a few of these at garage sales as a kid, but never really got into them. The earliest time travel that I’ve found so far was a story called “Back to Yesterday” in Adventures into the Unknown 4. Some of the issues are now available on google books. [Jun 1965]

 It’s supposed to work by producing a displacement in the hyper-temporal field by means of a powerful mesotronic stasis of the continuum—and anyone near the machine’s field will immediately be projected into the future! 
——Hugh Martinson in “Adventure into the Future”


Mighty Mouse Comics
First time travel: Mighty Mouse 11, Jun 1949

Surely Mighty Mouse time traveled in his comics many times, but the one that I ran across in the Michgan State University library records is a 2-page text piece called “The Time Machine”in #11. I haven’t read it, so I can’t say whether it’s fiction or perhaps something on H.G. Wells’s story.

The mouse did save the day himself via time travel in 1961 (Mighty Mouse 152). As I find other instances, I’ll add them to my time-travel comics page.

What Mad Universe
by Fredric Brown
First publication: Oct 1949

Suppose that a novel has no time travel, but when the hero, Keith Winton, is blown into parallel universe (replete with alien invaders, a bigger-than-life hero, and scantily clad spacefaring women), the only way he can make a living is writing a time-travel story. Do I include the novel in my list? Normally, no—but this is Fredric Brown! [Nov 2012]

 It was a time-travel story about a man who went back to prehistoric times—told from the point of view of the cave man who encountered the time traveler. 


The Man Who Lived Backward
by Malcolm Ross
First publication: 1950

Mark Selby, born in June of 1940, achieves a unique perspective on life and war and death due to the fact that he lives each day from morning to night, aging in the usual way, but the next morning he wakes up on the previous day until he eventually dies just after (or is it before?) Lincoln’s assassination. [Feb 2013]

 Tomorrow, my tomorrow, is the day of the President’s death. 


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. [Nov 1970]

 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... 


“Spectator Sport”
by John D. MacDonald
First publication: Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb 1950
Dr. Rufus Maddon is the first man to travel 400 years into the future, but those he meets think he’ in need of treatment. [Apr 2012]

 Every man can have Temp and if you save your money you can have Permanent, which they say, is as close to heaven as man can get. 


“The Wheel of Time”
by Robert Arthur, Jr.
First publication: Super Science Stories, Mar 1950
Decades before that other Robert wrote of his Wheel of Time, Robert Arthur gave us this story of his recurring mad scientist Jeremiah Jupiter and his long-suffering assistant Lucius. This time, Jupiter plans to create a time machine from oranges, The Encyclopedia Britannica, bass drums, tiny motorcycles, and three trained chimps. [Apr 2012]

 I am going to set up an interference in the time rhythm at this particular spot. Then the chimpanzies will enter it with my time capsules—since I know you won’t— and they will deposit the capules here a million years ago! 


2000 Plus
created by Sherman H. Dreyer and Robert Weenolsen
First time travel: 27 Apr 1950


After World War II, the American public became fascinated with science, scientists and the future, one result of which were the national science fiction anthology radio shows starting with 2000 Plus. There was no limit to the scientific wonders that we would have by the year 2000! The series had at least two time-travel episodes in its two-year run or original scripts (and possibly a third, “Time Out of Hand”). [Jan 2012]
 TitleAired 
“The Man Who Conquered Time”12 Apr 1950 [to 10,000 AD]
“The Temple of the Pharaohs”12 Jul 1951 [to ancient Egypt]

 The sky, the sky is wrong, Sebastian! The constellations are all twisted up. Halley’s comet is back where it must have been a few thousand years ago! Sebastion, I’ve got it! That sky! That sky is the sky of about 5000 years ago! 
—from “The Temple of the Pharaohs”





#11 of 50 hand-colored Frazetta prints of Weird Science-Fantasy 29

EC Comics (Anthologies)
First time travel: May 1950

The prototypical comic book weird story anthologies were EC’s titles that began in April 1950 with Crypt of Terror. I don’t know whether that title and EC’s other horror comics had any time travel (because I was forbidden from reading those!), but Harry Harrison, Wally Wood and their fellow artists managed some in the titles that were more geared to sf.

I’m aiming for a complete list of EC’s time-travel vignettes, but the list as of now is only partial. The first one I found was in Weird Fantasy #13 (May/Jun 1950), which was actually its first issue. That was part of a ruse to take over a second-class postage permit from A Moon, a Girl...Romance (which ended with #12). They stuck with that numbering through the fifth issue (#17) when the postmaster general took note, and the next one was #6. I did kinda wonder how many of those romance readers were surprised when Weird Fantasy #13 showed up in their mailboxes.

There was a sister title, Weird Science, which began in May/Jun 1952 with #12 (taking over the postage permit after the 11th issue of Saddle Romance). It had many time travel stories, starting with “Machine from Nowhere” in #14 (the 3rd issue).

Weird Science and Weird Fantasy were not selling that well, so EC combined them into a single title—Weird Science-Fantasy—with #23 in March 1954. Alas, there was but one time-travel story, “The Pioneer” in #24 (Jun 1954), about which EC’s site says A man attempts to be the first to successfully time travel, but there are some casualties on the way....
By the way, the whole run of EC comics would be 4 stars, but it gets an extra ½ star because of Al Williamson’s adaptation of “The Sound of Thunder” in Weird Science-Fantasy #24 and the beautiful Frank Frazetta cover on the final issue (#29) of Weird Science-Fantasy. The third image to the left is is that Frazetta did of that cover in 1972, with a bonus vamp in the bottom right corner. The cover had a gladiator fighting cave men, but it was not a time-travel story.

In 1955, the Comics Code Authority banned the word “Weird,” so the title became Incredible Science Fiction with #30 (Jul/Aug 1955). The four-issue run had only one time-travel tale (“Time to Leave” by Roy G. Krenkel in #31). [Circa 1963]

 I just stepped off the path, that’s all. Got a little mud on my shoes! What do you want me to do, get down and pray? 


“Night Meeting”
by Ray Bradbury
First publication: in The Martian Chronicles, May 1950

On his own in the Martian night, Tómas Gomez meets an ancient Martian whom he can talk with but not touch. [Nov 1973]

 How can you prove who is from the Past, who from the Future? 


“The Fox and the Forest”
aka "To the Future"
by Ray Bradbury
First publication: Collier’s, 13 May 1950

Roger Kristen and his wife decide to take a time-travel vacation and then run so they’ll never have to return to the war torn world of 2155 AD. [Jan 2012]

 The inhabitants of the future resent you two hiding on a tropical isle, as it were, while they drop off the cliff into hell. Death loves death, not life. Dying people love to know that others die with them. It is a comfort to learn you are not alone in the kiln, in the grave. I am the guardian of their collective resentment against you two. 


Dimension X
created by Fred Wiehe and Edward King
First time travel: 27 May 1950


In the month that Collier’s ran its first time-travel story, Dimension X broadcast the same story with an original adaptation. I found just one later story of time-travel in their 46-episode run. (They also did an abbreviated Pebble in the Sky, but without Joseph Schwartz’s time travel.) [Jan 2012]
 TitleAired 
“To the Future”27 May 1950 [from war in 2155 to peaceful 1950s]
“Time and Time Again”12 Jul 1951 [dying soldier to his childhood]

 We have Time Machines for sale—simple little machines of paper and ink, tubes and wires that, coupled with your own mind can soar down the years of
Eternity.
 
—from a Dimension X advertisement


“Time in Thy Flight”
by Ray Bradbury
First publication: Fantastic Universe, Jun/Jul 1950
Mr. Fields takes Janet, Robert and William back to 1928 to study their strange ways. [Dec 2013]

 And those older people seated with the children. Mothers, fathers, they called them. Oh, that was strange. 


“Vengeance, Unlimited”
aka "Vengeance Fleet"
by Fredric Brown
First publication: Super Science Stories, Jul 1950
After Venus is destroyed by an invading fleet, Earth and Mars end their dispute in order to put together a fleet that can travel back in time to extract vengeance on the invaders. I like Brown’s work a lot, but not this story which had gaping holes, not the least of which was a problem with the units of c raised to the c power (sorry, that is one of my pet peeves. [Jan 2014]

 In ten years, traveling forward in space and backward in time, the fleet would have traversed just that distance—186,334186,334 miles. 


“Time’s Arrow”
by Arthur C. Clarke
First publication: Science-Fantasy, Summer 1950

Barton and Davis, assistants to Professor Fowler, are on an archaeological dig when a physicist sets up camp next door and speculates abound about viewing into the past...or is it only viewing[Dec 2008]

 The discovery of negative entropy introduces quite new and revolutionary conceptions into our picture of the physical world. 


Operation Peril’s Time Travelers
created by Richard Hughes
First publication: Operation Peril 1, Oct/Nov 1950


Before it became a war comic, the first twelve issues of ACG’s Operation Peril included a regular series about Dr. Tom Redfield and his rich fiancé, Peggy, who buy some of Nostradamus’s papers and discover that he’d designed a time machine.

I haven’t found difinitive information on the creators of this series. Several sites name ACG editor Richard E. Hughes as the writer; some places speculate that it was drawn by Ken Bald, but Pappy’s Golden Age Blog indicates that a reader names Lin Streeter as the actual artist, and Pappy agrees. [Apr 2014]

 Why, what an odd-looking blueprint! Tempus Machina--why, Tom! That’s Latin for Time Machine! 


Time and Again
by Clifford D. Simak
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Oct/Nov/Dec 1950
After twenty years, Ash Sutton reurns in a cracked-up ship without food, air or water—only to report that the mysterious planet that nobody can visit is no threat to Earth. But a man from the future insists that Sutton must be killed to stop a war in time; while Sutton himself, who has developed metaphysical, religious leanings, finds a copy of This Is Destiny, the very book that he is planning to write. [May 2012]

 It would reach back to win its battles. It would strike at points in time and space which would not even know that thre was a war. It could, logically, go back to the silver mines of Athens, to the horse and chariot of Thutmosis III, to the sailing of Columbus. 


“The Third Level”
by Jack Finney
First publication: Collier’s, 7 Oct 1950


A New York man stumbles upon a third underground level at Grand Central Station which is a portal to the past.

This is the first of Finney’s many fine time-travel stories. [Mar 2005]

 I turned toward the ticket windows knowing that here—on the third level at Grand Central—I could buy tickets that would take Louisa and me anywhere in the United States we wanted to go. In the year 1894. 


“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. [Jul 1976]

 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. 


“Transfer Point”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Nov 1950

Vyrko, the Last Man on Earth, is confined to a shelter with the beautiful but unalluring scientist’s daughter Lavra, until he starts reading a stash of old pulp magazines with stories that exactly describe himself and Lavra. [Jan 2013]

 Good old endless-cycle gimmick. Lot of fun to kick around but Bob Heinlein did it once and for all in ‘By His Bootstraps.’ Damnedest tour de force I ever read; there just aren’t any switcheroos left after that. 


Ziff-Davis Comics (Anthologies)
founded by William B. Ziff, Sr. and Beranrd G. Davis
First time travel: Amazing Adventures 1, Nov 1950


Ziff-Davis published dozens of comic book titles in the first half of the 1950s including some anthologies of weird stories. The first issue of their Amazing Adventures included a time-travel tale called “Treaspasser in Time” in which the hero and the professor go through a strange fourth dimension full of inverted coneheads. [Jun 2012]

 We’re obviously stranded in the fourth dimension... We’ve both escaped that monster by plunging into the color-stream...which must be the stream of time! 


“A Stone and a Spear”
by Raymond F. Jones
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Dec 1950
In a post-Hiroshima world, Dr. Dell resigns from a weapons lab to farm, and when Dr. Curtis Johnson visits to pursuade him to come back, he finds that Dell’s reasons are linked to time travel. [Apr 2012]

 Here within this brain of mine has been conceived a thing which will probably destroy a billion human lives in the coming years. D. triconus toxin in a suitable aerosol requires only a countable number of molecules in the lungs of a man to kill him. My brain and mine alone is responsible for that vicious, murderous discovery. 


“Such Interesting Neighbors”
by Jack Finney
First publication: Collier’s, 6 Jan 1951

Al Lewis and his wife Nell have new neighbors, an inventor who talks of time travel from the future and his wife Ann.

The story was the basis for the second episode of Science Fiction Theater and also Spielberg’s Amazing Stories[Mar 2005]

 But Ann walked straight into that door and fell. I couldn’t figure out how she came to do it; it was as though she expected the door to open by itself or something. That’s what Ted said, too, going over to help her up. “Be careful, honey,” he said, and laughed a little, making a joke of it. “You’ll have to learn, you know, that doors won’t open themselves.” 


“...and It Comes Out Here”
by Lester del Rey
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Feb 1951
Old Jerome Boell, inventor of the household atomic power unit, visits his young self to make sure that the household atomic power unit gets invented, so to speak. [Apr 2012]

 But it’s a longish story, and you might as well let me in. You will, you know, so why quibble about it? At least, you always have—or do—or will. I don’t know, verbs get all mixed up. We don’t have the right attitude toward tenses for a situation like this. 


Atlas Comics (Anthologies)
First time travel: Astonishing 6, Apr 1951

Before they started slinging superheroes, Stan Lee and the bullpen were working at Marvel’s predecessor, Atlas Comics, putting out comics that mimicked EC’s anthologies. The first one I found was in Astonishing 6 (Apr 1951). As I find others, I’ll list them on my time-travel comics page. [circa 1962]

 Of course! that’s it! I forgot to connect the plug to the electric outlet! 
—Harry in Mystery Tales 10, Apr 1953, explaining why his time machine did’s work the first time


Lights Out
created by Fred Coe
First time travel: 2 Jul 1951


I wonder whether Lights Out was the earliest sf anthology tv show and the earliest time travel on tv? The first four episodes were live broadcasts on New York’s WNBT-TV (NBC) starting on 3 Jun 1946. It was renewed by NBC for three seasons of national broadcast starting 26 Jul 1949, and I spotted at least two time-travel episodes. Some episodes have found their way to Youtube, although I watched “And Adam Beget” on Disk 5 of the Netflix offering. I haven’t yet listened to any of the earlier radio broadcasts.

The episode “And Adam Beget” came from a 1939 radio episode of Arch Oboler’s Plays, and it formed the basis for a 1953 Steve Ditko story, “A Hole in His Head,” in the Black Magic comic book. [Apr 2012]
 TitleAired 
“And Adam Begot”2 Jul 1951 [time warp to prehistoric past]
“Of Time and Third Avenue”30 Dec 1951 [from Bester’s story]

 You don’t understand. Look at the short, hairy, twisted body—the neck bent, the head thrust forward, those enormous brows, the short flat nose... 
—from And Adam Begot


Youthful Magazines
founded by Bill Friedman and Sophie Friedman
First time travel: Captain Science 5, Aug 1951


From 1949 through 1954, the Friedman’s Youthful Magazines published ten distinct comic book titles. The first time travel I spotted was in Captain Science 5, where the brainy captain takes yourthful teen Rip and redheaded bombshell Luana to Pluto at 40 times the speed of light to fight villians from the future. As I find other Youthful time travel, I’ll add it to my time-travel comics page. [Jun 2012]

 Yes. Let’s see. Infinity over pi minus the two quadrants cubed... 
—from Captain Science 5


“Quit Zoomin’ Those Hands Through the Air”
by Jack Finney
First publication: Collier’s, 4 Aug 1951

Grandpa is over 100 now, so surely his promise to General Grant no longer binds him to keep quiet about a time-travel expedition and a biplane. [May 2011]

 Air power in the Civil War? Well, It’s been a pretty well-kept secret all these years, but we had it. The Major and me invented it ourselves. 


“The Biography Project”
by H.L. Gold (as by Dudley Dell)
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Sep 1951
Many sf stories are called upon to provide one-way viewing of the past with no two-way interference, but few (not this one) will answer. [Jul 2013]

 There were 1,000 teams of biographers, military analysts, historians, etc., to begin recording history as it actually happened—with special attention, according to Maxwell’s grant, to past leaders of industry, politics, science, and the arts, in the order named. 


“I’m Scared”
by Jack Finney
First publication: Collier’s, 15 Sep 1951

A retired man investigates scores of cases of the past impinging itself on the present and speculates about the cause and the eventual effect. [Mar 2005]

 Then, undressing in my bedroom, I remembered that Major Bowes was dead. Years had passed, half a decade, since that dry chuckle and familiar, “All right, all right,” had been heard in the nation’s living rooms. 


“Of Time and Third Avenue”
by Alfred Bester
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Oct 1951

Apparently, time travel has rules. For example, you cannot go back and simply take something from the past—it must be given to you. Thus, our man from the future must talk young Oliver Wilson Knight and his girlfriend into giving up the 1990 almanac that they bought in 1950. [Apr 2012]

 If there was such a thing as a 1990 almanac, and if it was in that package, wild horses couldn’t get it away from me. 






Walt Disney Comic Books
First time travel: Mickey Mouse daily strips, 22 Oct 1951
The first mention of time travel that I’ve found for Disney characters in the comics was the story of Uncle Wombat’s Tock Tock Time Machine which ran in Mickey’s daily strip from 22 Oct 1951 through 19 Jan 1952. As for comic books, the first one that I ever read in the comic books was when Mickey and Goofy traveled back to Blackbeard in August, 1968. I’ve since found travel in the comic books as early as 1964 (Gyro Gearloose travels in Uncle Scrooge 50) and 1962 (Chip ’n’ Dale 30). I’ll keep looking and add any new finds to my time-travel comic book page. [Jul 1968]

 A fantastic time machine enables Mickey and Goofy to live in different periods of history. Right now they are aboard Mickey’s unarmed merchant vessel off the Carolinas in the early 1700’s—and off to starboard is a treacherous pirate ship... 
Mickey Mouse 114


“Pawley’s Peepholes”
by John Wyndham
First publication: Science-Fantasy, Winter 1951-52
Jerry, his girl Sally, and everyone else in the quiet town of Westwich are forced to put up with gawking but immaterial tourists from the future who glide by on sight-seeing platforms. [Jul 2013]

 Was Great Grandma as Good as She Made Out? See the Things Your Family History Never Told You 


Mighty Mouse Cartoons
created by Izzy Klein and Paul Terry
First time travel: 28 Dec 1951


Mighty Mouse saved the day many a time, so doubtlessly he has saved the day in many other times, too, but so far I’ve seen only one such episode (“Prehistoric Perils”, 1952) in which our mouse goes in our villian’s machine back to the dinosaurs to save Pearl Pureheart. [Dec 2011]

 And now, my little papoose, I shall take you off in my time machine. 


“The Choice”
by W. Hilton-Young (published anonymously)
First publication: Punch, 19 Mar 1952

In this short-short story (about 200 words), our hero, Williams, goes to the future and returns with the memory of only one small thing. [Apr 2012]

 How did it happen? Can you remember nothing at all? 


“The Business, as Usual”
by Mack Reynolds
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Jun 1952

A time traveler from the 20th century has only 15 minutes to negotiate a trade for an artifact to prove that he’s been to the 30th century. [Jan 2012]

 “Look, don’t you get it? I’m a time traveler. They picked me to send to the future. I’m important.”
   “Ummm. But you must realize that we have time travelers turning up continuously these days.”
 


“Sound of Thunder”
by Ray Bradbury
First publication: Colliers, 28 Jun 1952


Eckels, a wealthy hunter, is one of three hunters on a prehistoric hunt for T. Rex conducted by Time Safari, Inc.

This was not the first speculation on small changes in the past causing big changes now (for example, Tenn’s “Me, Myself, and I”), but I wonder whether this was the first time that sensitive dependence on initial conditions was expressed in terms of a single butterfly. [May 2003]

 Not a little thing like that! Not a butterfly! 


Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies Comic Books
First time travel: Bugs Bunny 50, Aug 1952
No doubt that the bunny and his friends have often traveled through time in the pages of four colors with many titles published by Dell/Gold Key/Whitman. The first such possible escapade that I’ve seen was a story called “Fiddling with the Future” in Bugs Bunny 50 in which some gypsy friends of Bugs can read the future.

 We saw you reading the future with it over at the carnival! 


“There Is a Tide”
by Jack Finney
First publication: Collier’s, 2 Aug 1952

A sleepless man, struggling with a business decision, sees an earlier occupant of his apartment who is struggling with a decision of his own. [May 2011]

 I saw the ghost in my own living room, alone, between three and four in the morning, and I was there, wide awake, for a perfectly sound reason: I was worrying. 


“Bring the Jubilee”
by Ward Moore
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Nov 1952
In a world where the South won the “War for Southron Independence,” Hodge Backmaker, a northern country bumpkin with academic leanings, makes his way to New York City where he becomes disillusioned, ponders the notions of time and free will, and eventually goes to a communal think-tank where time travel offers him the chance to visit the key Gettysberg battle of the war. [Dec 2013]

 I could say that time is an illusion and that all events occur simultaneously. 


Bring the Jubilee
by Ward Moore
First publication: 1953

The novella version of this story appeared first, but I don’t know which was written first. Both are well worth reading, but my preference is for the novella which tells the same story in a more direct fashion. [Dec 2013]

 I could say that time is a convention and that all events occur simultaneously. 


Operation Freedom
First publication: Six issues circa 1953
A group called the Institute of Fiscal and Political Education published a series of at least six giveaway comic books to extol the virtues of America and democracy. Some were printed with blue and red ink with nice halftones, and others were black and white. I don’t know many details, but Lone Star Comics says that Joshua Strong goes back in time to explain issues such as the right to free speech and press (in issue #5). [Jun 2012]

 We must never forget our rights are based on our FAITH IN GOD. We claim them in Jefferson’s words, Not under the charters of kinds or legislatures, but under the King of Kings. 
—from the first issue

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. [Jul 1976]

 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 won’t 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. 


“Who’s Cribbing”
by Jack Lewis
First publication: Startling Stories, Jan 1953

Jack Lewis finds that all his story submissions are being returned to him with accusations of plagiarizing the great, late Todd Thromberry, but Lewis has another explanation. [Jan 2012]

 Dear Mr. Lewis,
   We think you should consult a psychiatrist.
Sincerely,
Doyle P. Gates
Science Fiction Editor
Deep Space Magazine
 


“Dominoes”
by C.M. Kornbluth
First publication: Star Science Fiction Stories, Feb 1953

Stock broker W.J. Born jumps two years into the future to find out when the big crash is coming. [Apr 2012]

 A two-year forecast on the market was worth a billion! 


“Death Ship”
by Richard Matheson
First publication: Fantastic Story Magazine, Mar 1953

This story is in The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century, so it’s gotta have time travel, right? For me, though, it was a Flying Dutchman story with the heroes’ ghosts visiting their own crash site in normal time fashion, and at the end of the Twilight Zone version, the ghosts appear to be in a time loop, doomed to repeated visits to the same crash site without necessarily traveling through time. [Jul 2011]

 Nothing from Ross. Nothing from any of them then but stares and shuddering breaths.
    Because the twisted bodies on the floor were theirs, all three of them.
    And all three...dead.
 


“The Old Die Rich”
by H.L. Gold
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Mar 1953

Dang those drop-dead beautiful, naked redheads with a gun and a time machine! How did actor Mark Weldon start out investigating the starvation deaths of rich, old vagrants and end up at the wrong end of a derringer being forced into a time machine invented by Miss Robert’s mad scientist father? [Jan 2012]

 She had the gun in her hand. I went into the mesh cage, not knowing what to expect and yet too afraid of her to refuse. I didn’t want to wind up dead of starvation, no matter how much money she gave me—but I didn”t want to get shot, either. 


“The Other Inauguration”
by Anthony Boucher
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mar 1953
Usually, when I start a story, I already know if it has time travel in the plot, but occassionally I’m surprised when the temporal antics arise, as in this story of Peter Lanroyd’ attempt to change the outcome of a presidental election that’s stolen by an ideologue. (No, no--—not the year 2000. This is a fictional tale.) [Jan 2013]

 To any man even remotely interested in politics, let alone one as involved as I am, every 1st Tue of every 4th Nov must seem like one of the crucial if-points of history. 


“Infinite Intruder”
by Alan E. Nourse
First publication: Space Science Fiction, Jul 1953

Since the 4-day atomic war of 2078, Roger Strang has been working on the Barrier Project to build an electronic barrier against missles, but now someone is trying to kill his 12-year-old son with attacks that seemingly succeed but don’t, while any records of his own background have been erased, as if he had never even lived, at least not in the 21st century. As a bonus, the story also has a grandfather paradox. [May 2012]

 The theory said that a man returning through time could alter the social and technological trends of the people and times to which he returned, in order to change history that was already past. 


ACE Comics
published by Aaron A. Wyn and Rose Wyn
First time travel: Baffling Mysteries 18, Nov 1953


Ace Comics published a couple dozen anthology comic titles between 1940 and 1956. The only time travel that I’ve spotted so far was in Baffling Mysteries 18. [Jun 2012]

 I am Chronos, the spirit of time! Do not destroy the sacred sun dial! Come closer and I shall initiate you into the mysteries of time which you pursue so hotly. 


Black Magic
edited by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon
First time travel: Black Magic #27, Nov 1953


Simon and Kirby put together the Black Magic horror comic for Prize Comics in the fifties, and there was at least one time-travel story, “A Hole in His Head” by none other than an early Steve Ditko. That story was based on a 1951 tv episode of Lights Out (“And Adam Begot”) written by Arch Oboler and taken from the 1939 radio show Arch Oboler’s Plays[Apr 2012]

 Somehow we have stepped out of our own time into another. 
—from “A Hole in His Head”


“Hall of Mirrors”
by Fredric Brown
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Dec 1953
You have invented a time machine of sorts that can, at any time, replace yourself with an exact duplicate of your body—and mind—from any time in the past. [Jul 2011]

 They didn’t use that style of furniture in Los Angeles—or anywhere else that you know of—in 1954. That thing over there in the corner—you can’t even guess what it is. So might your grandfather, at your age, have looked at a television. 


“Anachron”
by Damon Knight
First publication: If, Jan 1954

Brother Number One invents a machine that can extract things and place things in elsewhen, but only if the acts don’t interfere with free will; Brother Number Two tries to steal the machine. [Jul 2011]

 “By God and all the saints,” he said. “Time travel.”
    Harold snorted impatiently. “My dear Peter, ‘time’ is a meaningless word taken by itself, just as ‘space’ is.”
    “But barring that, time travel.”
    “If you like, yes.”
 


“Experiment”
by Fredric Brown
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Feb 1954

Professor Johnson’s colleagues wonder what would happen if he refuses to send an object back to the past after it has already appeared there.

I haven’t found anything earlier that brings up this question, but although the resolution was clever, it didn’t satisfy me, and (though I could be wrong) I think Brown misses the fact that at one point there should be two copies of the object in existence at the same time. In any case, this was the first part of a pair of short-short stories in the Feb ’54 Galaxy, which together were called Two-Timer (the second of which had no time travel). [Jan 2012]

 What if, now that it has already appeared five minutes before you place it there, you should change your mind about doing so and not place it there at three o’clock? Wouldn’t there be a paradox of some sort involved? 


The Haertel Scholium Stories
by James Blish
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Feb 1954

Blish’s story “Beep” appeared in 1954 with a casual mention of time-travel when a message is overheard from a future spaceship that’s following a worldline backwards through time. The main story follows video reporter Dana Lje who stumbles upon the newly invented Dirac radio which allows instantaneous communication and, as only she realizes, also carries a record of every transmission ever made, both past and future.

At Larry Shaw’s request, Blish expanded “Beep” into the short novel The Quincunx of Time, and both these stories share a background wherein the work of Dolph Haertel (the next Einstein) provides an ftl-drive (the Haertel Overdrive, later called the Imaginary Drive), an antigravity device (the spindizzy), and an instantaneous communicator (the Dirac Radio). I read many of these in the early ’70s, but can’t find my notes and don’t remember any other time travel beyond that one communiqu&eqcute; that Lje overheard. Still, I’ll list everything in The Haertel Scholium and reread them some day! [circa 1974]
 TitlePublication 
Pantropy and Seedling Stars stories   1942...
Cities in Flight stories1952...
“Common Time”Shadow of Tomorrow, 1953
“Beep”Galaxy, Feb 1954
“Nor Iron Bars”Infinity, Nov 1957
A Case of Conscience stories1958...
“A Dusk of Idols”Amazing, Mar 1961
Midsummer Century1972

 It is instead one of the seven or eight great philosophical questions that remain unanswered, the problem of whether man has or has not free will. 


“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. [Jul 1976]

 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. I’ve got his signature. As a memento, you know. 


“Something for Nothing”
by Robert Sheckley
First publication: Galaxy Science Fiction, Jun 1954

A wishing machine (aka Class-A Utilizer, Series AA-1256432) appears in Joe Collins’ bedroom along with a warning that this machine should be used only by Class-A ratings! [Jan 2012]

 In rapid succession, he asked for five million dollars, three functioning oil wells, a motion-picture studio, perfect health, twenty-five more dancing girls, immortality, a sports car and a herd of pedigreed cattle. 


“Breakfast at Twilight”
by Philip K. Dick
First publication: Amazing Stories, Jul 1954


Tim McLean’s ordinary family awakens on an ordinary day to find themselves in a war zone seven years in the future. [Jan 2012]

 We fought in Korea. We fought in China. In Germany and Yugoslavia and Iran. It spread, farther and farther. Finally the bombs were falling here. It came like the plague. The war grew. It didn’t begin. 


“This Is the Way the World Ends”
by H.W. Johnson
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Aug 1954
Living in a world threatened by nuclear extinction, seven-year-old Tommy receives the current and future thoughts of animals and people. [Dec 2012]

 There isn’t going to be anything. It’s all black after tomorrow. 


“The Easy Way”
by Oscar A. Boch
First publication: Astounding Science Fiction, Sep 1954
Hal Thomas’s wife thinks that he doesn’t pay enough attention to his children, one of whom is building an antigravity/time machine upstairs and the other of whom doesn’t need the machine to move through space and time. [Dec 2012]

 Space-time—is cute? 


“Meddler”
by Philip K. Dick
First publication: Future Science Fiction, Oct 1954


A government project sends a Time Dip into the future just to observe whether their actions have turned out well, but subsequent observations show that the act the observing has somehow eliminated mankind, so Hasten (the world’s most competent histo-researcher) must now go forward to find out what caused the lethal factor. [Jan 2012]

 We sent the Dip on ahead, at fifty year leaps. Nothing. Nothing each time. Cities, roads, buildings, but no human life. Everyone dead. 


Cave Girl
by Bob Powell
First time travel: Cave Girl 14, Dec 1954

Cave Girl had four issues of jungle adventures (#11 to #14), and the last one had a strange machine that made dead people come to life by sending them into their own past, but keeping them in the present moment. In the end, the machine sends itself into the far past and disappears from the present.

The comic was published by Magazine Enterprises, which published from 1944 to 1958. So far, this Cave Girl is the only time travel I’ve spotted, though I do have one of their Teena issues in my dad’s stash of comics. [Jun 2012]

 Men in strange garb appear. It seems that they unfasten the machine and take it away. Actually they are setting up the machine, but since time is running backwards—so do they! 


84 items are in the time-travel list for these years.
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)