When speaking about the future of humanity, a very wise scientist once said, "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." Oh wait, I think Doc Brown said that about his time-traveling DeLorean.
The movie "Back to the Future" came out 30 years ago this summer, and in "Back to the Future II," Doc takes Marty McFly to 2015. So was the movie right? We don't have flying cars, and we're still working on the whole hoverboard thing, but we do have biometic scanners so we're not too far off.
Time travel has long been an obsession not only in cheesy '80s movies, but in serious literature as well. Some authors propel their characters into future -- in "The Time Machine," H.G. Wells' traveler goes so far forward in time that the human race has disappeared. Other authors send their characters back into the past -- in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," Mark Twain's stranger goes back in time and tries to make life better with modern technology, but finds himself unable to alter the course of history. Still other authors send their character slipping and skidding back and forth through the ages.
Lauren Beukes' "The Shining Girls" turns the crime thriller genre on its head. Serial killer Harper Curtis travels through time to commit his brutal butcheries. And unlike other victims, Kirby survives being attacked and decides to hunt down her would-be killer. This book is a perfect way for crime thriller fans to dabble in science fiction.
Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series also blurs genre lines by mixing time travel, adventure and romance. Her most recent installment, "Written in My Own Heart's Blood," follows the tumultuous love story of two people from different times and their time traveling family jumping between the late 18th and 20th centuries. This novel is definitely for fans of historical fiction who want to shake up the calendar.
And for those who've read their fair share of corny sci-fi books, there's "How to Live Safely in the Science Fictional Universe: A Novel" by Charles Yu. This novel takes a very common time travel adventure plot (the inventor of a time machine has gone missing and his son must travel though time to find him) and delivers a hilarious, and touching, story.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. You can also access the library via mymanatee.org/library.
Stephanie Katz is a Technology Librarian at the Braden River Branch Library.