Spring Forward and Daylight Savings time seems to get easier and easier each year. Not only do I love having more sunlight in the evening (totally worth the 1 hour of lost sleep), but the frustrating task of re-setting clocks seems to be taking care of itself more and more as my cell phone and computer (my main sources of time information) re-set themselves. This is both convenient, but also a little confusing. When I wake up on Sunday morning, I am sometimes not sure if my devices have re-set themselves or not, and without hunting around for a comparison point (an old-fashioned clock), it can be difficult to tell if they are all showing the new time, or if none of them have re-set.
This, in combination with the clock that keeps getting to be a few minutes fast (on the microwave) has got me thinking about the strange nature of time. Its one of my favorite facts that time zones weren’t standardized until the advent of the rail road. Before that, each town just had their own clock that struck noon around the middle of the day, and the town keyed off of that. I suppose when it takes you three days to ride a horse to another place, it really doesn’t matter if they acknowledge noon when your starting point is thinking its 1:17.
Anyhow, all this flexibility of time made me think this month’s (theme-appropriately late) reading list should be about time travel. Time travel can play a variety of roles in a book. It can be about the adventure of seeing a new place (or of a stranger in our place, like Austin Powers, spy from the 60′s), as in H.G. Well’s A Time Machine (one of the first books about time travel), or it can be used as a plot device to enlighten a character, as in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Time travel can also be a side plot line that facilitates the story, as in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams, in which the characters visit a dining establishment that is at the temporal end of the universe, which allows the patrons to enjoys a spectacular show, while fine dining, or even just a minor plot line (as in Hemoine in The Prisoner of Azkaban, of the Harry Potter Series).
Of course, the other side of time travel is the $64,000 question, what happens when you start traveling through time and changing history. The Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury, is a short story about how even minor changes can have major ripple effects, while the Time Travelers Wife explores the effects of time travel on a relationship.
My current favorite book on time travel is The Map of Time, by Felix Palma, set in Victorian England, and involving several plot lines related to time, including an attempt to save a young woman from Jack the Ripper, and an exploration through time as an amusement (almost like a safari adventure). But I am sure there are others – what else should be on this list?
- Map of Time, by Felix Palma
- The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
- A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
- The Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury
- The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series)
- The Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowlings (Harry Potter Series)
- The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
- The Map of Time – London, England The Map of Time, by Felix Palma (2011) In Victorian...