Time-slip stories have two (or more) interconnected timelines. Usually the main character is taken on a voyage of discovery, through research, documents, family history, archives or time travel.
The past or future story illuminates the main (and other) character's current dilemmas or challenges.
Usually longer than the average book, because of the multiple stories, these novels and creative non-fiction texts are most often found as a sub-genre within the historical, fantasy, science fiction, memoir and women's fiction categories.
Time-slip stories were popularized at the end of the 19th century by Mark Twain's historical novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which has had considerable influence on later writers. In this novel an accident triggers the main character's slip in time and this has been a staple plot device of time-slip stories since, another being the time machine.
In some time-slip stories, what caused and comes from the time-slip is highly significant. In others, the protagonist has no control and no understanding of the process and it may not be explained to the reader at all. The character is either left marooned or settled in the past time and must make the best of it, or is returned at the climax of the story by a process as unpredictable and uncontrolled.
In realistic fiction and memoir, the research and archival processes are often built into the story, as part of the protagonist's, and reader's, journey of discovery.
- Charlie Jane Anders (2009-06-12). "Timeslip romance". io9. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
- Palmer, Christopher (2007). Philip K. Dick: Exhilaration and Terror of the Postmodern (Repr. ed.). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-85323-618-4.
- Lucas, Ann Lawson (2003). The Presence of the Past in Children's Literature. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. p. 113. ISBN 9780313324833.
- Tess Cosslett (2002-04-01). "Project MUSE - "History from Below": Time-Slip Narratives and National Identity" (PDF). muse.jhu.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
- James, Edward; Mendlesohn, Farah (2002). The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 9781107493735.
- Schweitzer, Darrell (2009). The Fantastic Horizon: Essays and Reviews (1st ed.). [Rockville, Md.?]: Borgo Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-4344-0320-9.