Time Loops vs Time Travel: Which Do You Prefer?

Some of my favorite works of fiction in any form–books, shows, movies, even games–are about time. Time as a resource, time travel, time loops, etc.

A new movie on Amazon Prime was recently added to this genre. I watched The Map of Tiny Perfect Things a few days ago, and I really enjoyed it. It’s hard to discuss time loop fiction without spoiling anything, so I won’t do that–quite simply, if you enjoy the genre, I recommend it.

As much as I love time loop fiction (Edge of Tomorrow, Replay, Primer, Palm Springs, TIME Stories,e tc), I also love time travel fiction (Back to the Future, Looper, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Tenet, Terminator, Hot Tub Time Machine, etc). I think I’d give the edge to time loop if I had to choose between the two–not that I have to, but just for the sake of discussion!

What do you think? Do you prefer time loop fiction or time travel fiction? What’s your favorite in each category?

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5 thoughts on “Time Loops vs Time Travel: Which Do You Prefer?”

  1. No movie or television show has done a good job with time travel. You have to go into (good) hard science fiction to see it done well: for example, the short stories “The Hundred Light-Year Diary” and “The Infinite Assassin” by Greg Egan, or the book “Exultant” by Stephen Baxter. I really like Exultant because it goes into the full implications of time travel with two implacable foes: faster-than-light travel in one frame can mean backwards time travel in another; and basically a grinding war in which history and reality are also battle fronts between the two sides.

    Primer (the movie) is OK though.

  2. I like time travel fiction, and I think the best of them deal with the implications of time travel and how it impacts the world.
    In books, “The End of Eternity” by Isaac Asimov is really good. It’s about an agency that exists outside time, and takes small actions that are meticulously calculated to improve future happiness.
    In video games, the first “Life Is Strange” game was a really interesting take on time travel, where the player character has the ability to rewind time, so she can take actions, see the result, and then go back and do something different, while retaining the knowledge of the outcome of the original action. It also asks some larger questions of chaos theory and the butterfly effect. One of the best stories in video gaming.
    And for a fun take on time travel, Douglas Adams’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series has some hilarious time travel, such as traveling to the restaurant at the end of the universe to watch the universe collapse while eating a gourmet dinner.


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