The Big List of Time Travel Adventures


Tales of Tomorrow
aka Tomorrow Is Yours
by Theodore Sturgeon and Mort Abrahamson
First time travel: 8 Feb 1952

When Sturgeon and Abrahamson sold the idea of this anthology show to ABC, they had the backing of the Science Fiction League of America, giving ABC first shot at any stories written by league members. They took good advantage of the deal, including stories by Fredric Brown, Arthur C. Clarke, C.M. Kornbluth, and others including Henry Kutter and C.M. Moore’s “What You Need”. That excellent 1945 story involves future prediction without time travel, but I included it in my time-travel list just because I liked it so much (and it was later made into a Twilight Zone episode, too). Hence, I’ll count the Feb 1952 airing of the story as the first time travel in Tales of Tomorrow. There were at least four other see-into-the-future-or-past episodes, but I won’t include them in the list below. After all, one must have standards!

In general, I’d place the stories on the more horrific end of the science fiction scale, but certainly worth watching.

 What You Need (8 Feb 1952)Henry Kuttner and C.M. Moore
The Little Black Bag (30 May 1952)C.M. Kornbluth
Ahead of His Time (18 Jul 1952)Paul Tripp
The Chase (19 Sep 1952)Mann Rubin
Another Chance (13 Feb 1953)Frank De Felitta
Past Tense, with Boris Karloff (3 Apr 1953)Robert F. Lewine

 After my treatment, youl awake. Youll find yourself in a room a thousand miles from here and back seven years in time. Youll have absolutely no remembrance of these past seven years. The slate will be clean. 
—“Another Chance”

[Jul 2015]

“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.

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

[Apr 2012]

“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.

 “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.”

[Jan 2012]

“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.

 Not a little thing like that! Not a butterfly! 

[May 2003]

Charlton Comics (Anthologies)
First time travel: Space Adventures 1, Jul 1952

Charlton’s first issue of Space Adventures included a character called Hap Holliday, the Time Skipper, who travels to the future to rescue a queen. Hap appeared again in issue 3.

Later in the 1950s, with the legal demise of Fawcett Comics in the ’50s, Charton Comics took over the non-superhero Fawcett titles, and I’m still tracking down their time-travel stories, but the earliest I’ve found so far is a Steve Ditko tale, “The Last Laugh” in Strange Suspense Stories 32 (May 1957). As I find more definitive time-traveling (surely there’s some in the comic book version of The Mysterious Traveler), I’ll include the comics on my time-travel comics page.

 What a book title! Time—The Fourth Dimension! Going time travelling, Lester? 
—from “The Last Laugh”

[circa 1968]

“Star, Bright”
by Mark Clifton
First publication: Galaxy, Jul 1952

Pete Holmes knows that Star, his three-year-old girl, is bright, and he worries that being so intelligent will make life difficult for her (as it has for himself); and then when an equally bright boy moves in next door and Pete observes them playing together and dropping an impossibly ancient Egyptian coin, he’s not sure whether that makes the situation better or worse.

 And those were the children who were too little to cross the street! 

[Feb 2015]

“Hobson’s Choice”
by Alfred Bester
First publication: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Aug 1952
By night, Addyer dreams of traveling to different times; by day, he is a statistician investigating an anomalous increase in the country’s population centered right in the part of the country that took the heaviest radiation damage in the war.

 Either he imagined himself moved backward in time with a double armful of Encyclopedia Britannica, best-sellers, hit plays and gambling records; or else he imagined himself transported forward in time a thousand years to the Golden Age of perfection. 

[Jan 2015]

Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies Comics
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: Colliers, 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.

 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. 

[May 2011]

“The Entrepreneur”
by Thomas Wilson
First publication: Astounding, Sep 1952
Ivan Smithov, an upstanding U.S. Communist from the year 2125, is charged with making arrangements for a team of three entrepreneurs to visit the U.S. in 1953 to make preparations for a time tourist enterprise—but Ivan runs into problems procuring local currency for the expedition from the Soviet embassy of the time until his companions’ behavior draws enough attention that the ambassador begins to believe him. But what other consequences might their goings-on have?

 Mrat-See turned quickly, wincing at the protest of his aching muscles. The creature standing before him might have issued from a nightmare. Its heavy, barrellike body was slung like a hammock on four bowed legs. The enormous head, with undershot jaw, protruding fangs, and pendulous lips, was turned toward him unswervingly, and the continuing growl was a deep rumble of menace from the massive chest. Mrat-Sees heart leaped with fear. He had seen such creatures before in the Yorkgrad zoo. Dogs they were called. 

[May 2015]

“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 Gettysburg battle of the war.

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

[Dec 2013]

“Unto Him That Hath”
by Lester del Rey (as by Philip St. John)
First publication: Space Science Fiction, Nov 1952
After losing a leg fighting the Pan-Asians, Captain Michael Dane returns home to his brilliant physicist girlfriend, his father, and a college professor/general who wants his help in swiping technology from the future. But when they grab a future fighter plane, his father is seemingly sucked into the future and his girlfriend may be a spy.

 The government was convinced enough to finance Project Swipe, so it cant be too crazy. Were actually reaching into the future. Look, were losing the war—we know that. Pan-Asia is matching our technology and beating our manpower. But somewhere ahead, they’ve got things that Pan-Asia cant have—and we're going to get some of that. 

[Aug 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.

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

“All the Time in the World” by Arthur C. Clarke [personal time rate differences]

“Catch That Martian” by Damon Knight [nearby tenuous universes]

“The Island of Five Colors” by Martin Gardner [4D spacial topology]

“Sail On! Sail On!” by Philip José Farmer [alternate history]

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

17 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 (