by Wendy Nikel
Time travel has always been of interest to me. As a kid, I remember laughing at Jon Scieszka’s Time Warp Trio series and cozying up with Caroline B. Cooney’s Both Sides of Time. The Prisoner of Azkaban was easily my favorite of the Harry Potter books, largely because of Hermione’s time turner, and I probably would have loved A Wrinkle in Time as well, had it not been for that creepy brain that the end that gave me nightmares.
When I moved from the juvenile and young adult sections of the library and into the adult section, one of the first time travel authors I came across was Jack Finney.
Probably best known for writing Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Jack Finney’s time travel short stories and novels (Time and Again and From Time to Time) have found their way onto my bookshelves, into my heart, and now, have crept into the pages of my upcoming novella, The Continuum as well, in the form of literary nods and Easter eggs.
Time and Again tells the story of Simon Morley, and it’s from this photographer and antique-shop-browser that I’ve taken my heroine’s surname. Si is offered the opportunity to travel through time using self-hypnosis to the New York City in the year 1882, where he solves a mystery, falls in love, and is faced with an important decision: remain in the past with his new love, or return to his present-day. I love the way Finney describes the city in this era and his use of hypnosis as a method of time travel fascinated me. You’ll find the Big Apple and hypnosis in The Continuum, though I’ve chosen to give them somewhat smaller roles in my story.
From Time to Time, the sequel to the previous novel, again follows Si — this time, as he’s brought somewhat forward in time to try to prevent World War I by protecting a man who’s carrying important documents aboard the Titanic. The element I’ve borrowed from this one ought to be obvious from the silhouette on The Continuum‘s cover.
Finally, I want to introduce you to About Time, a collection of twelve of Finney’s time travel short stories. One of these stories, “Of Missing Persons,” inspired the Place in Time Travel Agency that you’ll find in The Continuum. In Finney’s story, a stranger tells the narrator about a particular travel agency where one can go and ask for “The Folder,” which contains the necessary information for a one-way trip to another dimension. The narrator spends the story deciding whether he ought to take the risk and see what this other place has to offer; I won’t ruin the ending, but the story had always made me wonder about whether a place like that could really exist in real life — a place where amazing things happen, hidden in plain sight.
Pick up my book on January 23 (or preorder it from World Weaver Press), and see for yourself not only these nods to Jack Finney, but also other time travel mainstays like H.G. Wells, Doctor Who, the Back to the Future series, and more. Check out my website for more info!
Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Daily Science Fiction, Nature: Futures, and elsewhere. Her time travel novella, The Continuum, is forthcoming from World Weaver Press in January 2018. For more info, visit wendynikel.com