Time loops. I think we can all agree that they’re awesome. Absolutely soul-destroying to be stuck in, but a joy to read about or watch and Sci-Fi Month is the perfect time to talk about them. As always, I am more than open to recommendations for amazing time loop reads, because I really haven’t come across enough.
Do you feel like I might have already told you to read this book? That’s because I have, and I mean it so much I’m slotting it into two lists (Isolated in Space being the first, and now that you know that, you’re thinking ‘isolated in space AND a time loop? Amazing!’ and you’re absolutely right to think that). The time loop in The Explorer is not fun (for the character experiencing it), but it is clever and more than a little harrowing.
When Stargate Command gets caught in a time loop, only Jack and Teal’c are aware of what’s happening. Working to free themselves, they’re forced to learn an alien language, but as the ten hour loop repeats itself over, and over, and over again, they find it harder and harder to focus on what they should be doing. Easily my favourite episode of Stargate SG-1, ‘Window of Opportunity’ is both hilarious and dark as fuck. Familiar characters are given the opportunity to act without repercussions, but it’s made clear that reliving the same ten hour period over and over is not all fun and games.
On an island off the coast of Wales, Jacob stumbles across an abandoned orphanage that turns out not to be as abandoned as it seems. The time loop in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is interesting because it exists to save a group of children with special powers from a monster than wants to consume them. There are only a few people who can create time loops, and each loop is completely different in setting, but the same in that it traps the children in one day where their bodies can never grow older. For me the time loops, and the ymbryne’s that create them, were the most interesting part of a series that had a lot of potential, but ultimately lost it’s way.
Global Dynamics have a time maintenance guy, because of course they do, and it’s finally his time to shine! Another heart-breaking time loop with brilliant comedic moments, this one sees Sheriff Jack Carter come to realise that something time-related has gone wrong on the day that the woman he loves marries the man he sort of hates. As Jack relives the day, and a Dr Who joke repeats itself to great effect in the background, the only possible solution seems darker and darker. (A Town Called) Eureka messes with time so deliciously in so many episodes, by the way, guys.
I’ve not read this one yet, but it sounds like it ticks a lot of boxes for me. A teenager is killed in a car crash and relives the day of death over and over, but is it so she can save herself or someone else? I’ve enjoyed the two books that I have read by Lauren Oliver (Delirium and Rooms), and I’ve seen Before I Fall described as Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls, so that’s a yes, please from me!
Dean dies. A lot. And, for once, it’s nothing to do with the war between heaven and hell. ‘Mystery Spot’, like the best time loop episodes, is laugh out loud funny at first but it rapidly ditches this in favourite of a horrifying darkness. Try to watch this episode without getting ‘Heat of the Moment’ stuck in your head – I dare you!
Honourable television mentions go to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 05, Episode 18: Cause and Effect, The X-Files, Season 06, Episode 14: Monday and Charmed, Season 01, Episode 22: Deja Vu All Over Again.