Back to top

Time Travel, Alternate Histories, & Parallel Universes

Travel to another time, another world, another reality, or all of the above with one of these speculative fiction selections that explore the boundaries of time and place.

Interested in this topic? You can receive book recommendations for this genre by signing up for the Science Fiction and Fantasy newsletter. Sign me up!

Time Travel

Cover of Atomic Anna

Barenbaum (A Bend in the Stars) burnishes her reputation as an up-and-coming talent with this audacious time travel story. Anna Berkova, a Soviet nuclear scientist who works at Chernobyl, is asleep on the morning of the meltdown in 1986. The catastrophe transports her to 1992 Mount Aragats, Armenia, where she finds a trail of blood leading to her dying daughter, Manya, who’s been shot. Before dying, Manya reveals that the amplifier her mother was working on had pulled her through a ripple in space-time, and that Berkova must travel farther into the future to save a teenage granddaughter, Raisa, she’s never known. Barenbaum then unfolds the three women’s stories, each of which is laced with tragedy and unfulfilled aspirations. The threads build toward a deeply satisfying denouement, and the author uses the sci-fi plot device to explore parent-child relationships and questions about the morality of changing the past. Barenbaum dares greatly, and succeeds.

Cover of The Shining Girls

In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back. Available to download: Audio

Cover of Kindred

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Here and Now and Then

Stranded for eighteen years since the 1990s, time-traveling agent Kin Stewart, suffering from memory loss, has started a new life, but when rescuers from the year 2142 finally arrive, he must choose between his current family and the one he left behind in the future. Available to download: eBook

Cover of An Impossible Promise (seq

Liam O'Connor has one purpose in this life, to push the woman he loves into the arms of another man. The Irish rogue unknowingly changed the course of destiny when he fell in love with Cora McLeod over a century ago. Their passion was intense, brief and tragic. And the angels have been trying to restore the balance of fate ever since. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Three More Months

Chloe Howard's devotion to her job has come at a cost: spending time with the most important person in her life--her mother. Vowing to change, she plans a trip home. Sadly, hours before she arrives, her mother passes away, leaving Chloe without a goodbye and riddled with grief and regret. But maybe...maybe it's not too late. Just days before the funeral, Chloe finds her mother unaccountably alive and well. And it's no longer May; she's been transported back in time to March. No one--not Chloe's brother, friends, or colleagues--understands why Chloe is so confused. How can she make sense of this? It's impossible. But Chloe is going to make the most of it. She's going to do everything differently: repair family rifts, forge new bonds, tell her mother every day how much she loves her, and possibly prevent the inevitable. This is a second chance Chloe never saw coming. She's not wasting a minute of it.

Cover of This is How You Lose the T
Amal El-Mohtar
and Max Gladstone

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future. Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of 1632

When Grantville, West Virginia, was suddenly hurled from 2000 back to 1632, they landed in the middle of the Thirty Years War. But they brought American Freedom and Justice -- and modern guns -- along with them. 

Cover of Outlander

Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to Scotland in 1743, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for James Fraser, a young soldier. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Paradox Hotel

Hart follows up his highly praised The Warehouse (2019) with this nifty murder mystery set at a hotel. But this is not your typical hotel. The Paradox Hotel  caters to the clientele of a government-run time-travel facility. January Cole, the hotel’s security chief, has a lot on her plate, what with a bunch of trillionaires coming to the Paradox, each with his or her own special demands, and the last thing she needs is a murder. At least, she thinks there’s been a murder. She’s pretty sure there’s a body, even though she’s the only person who can see it. There’s a distinct possibility she’s imagining it, but there’s also the possibility that the corpse exists in a different time, and that January’s getting glimpses of the body because she is not, shall we say, entirely anchored in the now. This wildly ambitious, well-executed genre-bender is suspenseful, clever, and funny. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Tales from the Cafe (seque

In a back alley in Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. Local legend says that this shop offers something else besides coffee -- the chance to travel back in time. With faces both familiar and new, Tales from the Cafe follows the story of four patrons who visit to take advantage of café Funiculi Funicula's time-traveling offer and revisit moments with family, friends and lovers. Each one must face up to the past to move on with their lives. Kawaguchi's wistful and heartwarming new novel once again invites the reader to ask themselves, 'What would you do if you could travel back in time?' Available to download: Audio

Cover of An Ocean of Minutes

America is in the grip of a deadly flu pandemic. When Frank catches the virus, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means risking everything. She agrees to a radical plan--time travel has been invented in the future to thwart the virus. If she signs up for a one-way-trip into the future to work as a bonded laborer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. But when she arrives in a few weeks to find him twelve years in the future, will Frank still be waiting?

Cover of The Future of Another Time

1992: Seventeen-year-old Beth finds herself in a car with her friend's abusive boyfriend dead in the backseat, agreeing to help her friends hide the body. 2022: Determined to use time travel to create a safer future, Tess has dedicated her life to visiting key moments in history and fighting for change. But a group of dangerous travelers is bent on stopping her at any cost. Tess and Beth's lives intertwine as war breaks out across the timeline--a war that threatens to destroy time travel and leave only a small group of elites with the power to shape the past, present, and future.

Cover of The Heavens

A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate--and they begin to fall in love. From their first meeting, Ben knows Kate is unworldly and fanciful, so at first he isn't that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she's had since childhood. In the dream, she's transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real and compelling until it threatens to overwhelm her life. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Time Traveler’s Wife

The love story of Henry and Claire whose lives are punctuated by Henry's disappearance to different points in time--sometimes even back to visit Claire as a young woman. When Henry meets Claire, he is twenty-eight, and she is twenty. He's a hip, handsome librarian; she is an art student with Botticelli hair. Henry has never met Claire before; Claire has known Henry since she was six... Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of The First Fifteen Lives of

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. 

Cover of Hazards of Time Travel
Joyce Carol

A recklessly idealistic girl dares to test the perimeters of her tightly controlled (future) world and is punished by being sent back in time to a region of North America -- "Wainscotia, Wisconsin"--that existed eighty years before. Cast adrift in time in this idyllic Midwestern town she is set upon a course of "rehabilitation"--but cannot resist falling in love with a fellow exile and questioning the constraints of the Wainscotia world with results that are both devastating and liberating. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Version Control
Dexter Clarence

A woman deals with a strange and persistent sense of everything being slightly off, which may or may not be related to her scientist husband's pet project, a "causality violation device" that might actually be working. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Kingdoms

Joe Tournier, suffering from a form of epilepsy that causes amnesia, leaves the French-ruled London for the rebel land of Scotland to search for answers about his identity. Available to download: eBook and Audio

Cover of How To Live Safely In a Sc

Charles Yu, time travel technician, helps save people from themselves in Minor Universe 31, a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction. When he's not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog named Ed, and using a book titled "How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe "as his guide, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory.

Alternate Histories

Cover of Half Life

Jillian Cantor reimagines the pioneering, passionate life of Marie Curie using a parallel structure to create two alternative timelines, one that mirrors her real life, one that explores the consequences for Marie and for science if she'd made a different choice.

Cover of The Impeachment of Abraham
Stephen L.

President Abraham Lincoln survives the assassination attempt at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865--only to be charged with overstepping his Constitutional authority during the Civil War, and faced with impeachment. A young black woman named Abigail is assigned to assist on the case, but when one of Lincoln's lead lawyers is found brutally murdered, she finds herself plunged into a web of intrigue, politics, and conspiracy more tangled than she could have imagined. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of The Yiddish Policemen's Un

A murder mystery based on the premise that a Jewish settlement was created in Alaska following World War II. In the small town of Sitka, Alyeska, Detective Meyer Landsman finds the body of a prominent town figure who has ties to organized crime. As Landsman digs deeper, he discovers that this is only the tip of the iceberg--and all signs point to a greater danger lurking in the shadows. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Man in the High Castle
Philip K.

It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war--and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of 11/22/63

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of The Calculating Stars
Mary Robinette

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process, and Elma York is determined to be the first woman to earn the title Lady Astronaut. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Machines Like Me

In an alternative 1980s London, Britain has lost the Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher battles Tony Benn for power, and Alan Turing achieves a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, leading to the creation of a synthetic human. When Charlie buys Adam, one of the first batch ever sold, he ends up with more than he expected--including a love triangle that’s not entirely human. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Years of Rice and Salt
Kim Stanley

In an alternate history world in which the population of Europe is almost completely wiped out by the Black Death during the fourteenth century, three superpowers--China, India, and the nations of Islam--battle for supremacy in a World War destined to create a new world order. Available to download: Audio

Cover of The Plot Against America

When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but upon taking office as the thirty-third president of the United States, he negotiated a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler. What then followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Philip Roth. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Dominion

A thrilling novel that dares to imagine Britain under the thumb of Nazi Germany.

Cover of Everfair

A Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Available to download: Audio

Cover of Rodham: A Novel

A novel that imagines a deeply compelling what-might-have-been: What if Hillary Rodham hadn't married Bill Clinton?

Cover of The Underground Railroad

From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South through the Underground Railroad, which is no mere metaphor--engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Underground Airlines
Ben H.

It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred. Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we'd like to believe. Available to download: eBook

Parallel Universes & Alternate Realities

Cover of Life After Life

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she? Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Dark Matter

A mind-bending, relentlessly paced science-fiction thriller, in which an ordinary man is kidnapped, knocked unconscious--and awakens in a world inexplicably different from the reality he thought he knew. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of If, Then
Kate Hope

In the quiet haven of Clearing, Oregon, four neighbors find their lives upended when they begin to see themselves in parallel realities. At first the visions are relatively benign, but they grow increasingly disturbing--and, in some cases, frightening. When a natural disaster threatens Clearing, it becomes obvious that the visions were not what they first seemed and that the town will never be the same. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of
Alix E.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of The Gunslinger

In a world that is weirdly related to our own, Roland Deschain of Gilead, of In-World that was, pursues his enigmatic antagonist to the mountains that separate the desert from the Western Sea. At a way station, he meets Jake, a boy from a particular time (1977) and a particular place (New York City), and soon the two are joined-khef, ka, and ka-tet. The mountains lie before them. So does the man in black and, somewhere far beyond...the Dark Tower. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of All Our Wrong Todays

It's 2016, and in Tom Barren's world, technology has solved all of humanity's problems. Unfortunately, Tom isn't happy. He's lost the girl of his dreams. And what do you do when you're heartbroken and have a time machine? Something stupid. Finding himself stranded in a terrible alternate reality -- which we immediately recognize as our 2016 -- Tom is desperate to fix his mistake and go home. Right up until the moment he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and the woman who may just be the love of his life. Available to download: Audio

Cover of 1Q84

An ode to George Orwell's 1984 told in alternating male and female voices relates the stories of Aomame, an assassin for a secret organization who discovers that she has been transported to an alternate reality, and Tengo, a mathematics lecturer and novice writer. Available to download: eBook

Cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Kell is one of the last Travelers; magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes. He can choose where he lands. There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there's Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of My Real Children

It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War-those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles? Available to download: eBook

Cover of To Paradise

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist's damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him--and solve the mystery of her husband's disappearances. These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can't exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness. Available to download: eBook and Audio