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Oop: Time Travelers Missing from My Book Time Travel

The odds that anyone’s favorite time travelers appear in the pages of Time Travel are, unfortunately, less than 100%. Perhaps much less. Some readers are already, graciously, pointing out the omissions.

One such is Alley Oop, the caveman hero of the comic strip with that name, created by V. T. Hamlin in 1932. He was not a time traveler right from the start. ooptimemachine4939At first he was just a caveman. But let Perry Bowker explain. He is a reader from Burlington, Ontario, and he has the whole story:

I want to point out a possible addition to the Philosophers and Pulps” chapter … I refer to the comic strip “Alley Oop,” which ran in daily papers from the 1930s to the present. The strip took its ultimate shape in the 1939 when the artist, V. T. Hamlin, introduced a peculiar time machine which had the ability to reach into the past, transporting caveman Oop from his prehistoric home, and later shuttling he and companions back and forth to various historic eras. Having quickly absorbed 20th century skills and attitudes, Oop became an explorer of sorts, transported to somewhere in the past, where he often interacted with historic figures like Cleopatra (well-endowed females were a feature of the artwork). The machine’s inventor, Dr. Wonmug, could follow the action on a TV monitor, and often rescued Oop from sticky situations, or not. As was common in funny papers, a story arc played out over weeks or months (a style regrettably almost all gone from comic strips today). Oop could have changed history — how would we ever know?
Oddly, as far as I know, Dr. Wonmug never explored the future with his device.

Clifford Simak paid tribute to Alley Oop by creating a debonair Neanderthal of that name in his 1968 novel, The Goblin Reservation. Wikipedia—the ultimate completist—provides a List of Alley Oop Time Travels.

I’m not a completist myself, obviously. Still, please do send in your missing time travelers.


  1. One time travel book I highly recommend but you don’t mention is Cloud Atlas, the novel by David Mitchell. It embodies six separate stories split in half, encompassing a distant past and distant future, and some stories in between. It is a great novel for time travel because the imaginative work it does is so hard. It was turned into a film starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry (how could you go wrong with that combination?), but didn’t earn a big box office number, I don’t think. I liked the film, but the novel got my attention in a major way. A full review is on my blog here:

  2. Matt Thorne says

    Not time travelers exactly, but have always found Melville’s discussion of the difference between human and celestial time in his novel Pierre (‘Chronologicals and Horogicals’) fascinating and it fits in with some of your other arguments. Very much enjoyed your book.

  3. Sam Browning says

    I very much enjoyed your Time Travel, and I’m looking forward to exploring some more of the cultural driftwood that this idea produced. (Next on my list, certainly, is The Peripheral.). One addition I would put in the canon would be the television series Lost, which explored the paradoxes and nonlinear storytelling in an original and sometimes mind-bending fashion.

  4. David Bassett says

    With reference to your Grandfather paradox, you should visit the BBC play ‘The flip side of Dominic Hide” in which our hero of the future goes back in time to the year 1980 and ends up being his own Great Great Grandfather.Loved the book by the way and will follow up on some of the books/stories mentioned

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