There are a few basic ways that time travel works in stories. For the paperback release of Lauren Beukes' time travel serial killer tale The Shining Girls, artists Adam Hill and Sam Wilson put this chart together. It explains The Shining Girls — and oh so much more.
Beukes told io9:
When I wrote The Shining Girls I looked into the technical mechanics of time travel from mesons to cosmic strings, infinite cylinders and wormholes and realized I was much more interested in the philosophical problems of time travel. (Although the House is probably a wormhole and I'd like to think there's a whole bunch of multiverses where my loathsome serial killer Harper never stumbles upon it at all and everyone lives happily ever after).
I wanted to play with loops and paradoxes and obsessions which meant the model I settled on was a fatalistic one. Think of it is as Greek tragedy time travel – the more you resist your destiny, the more you put in to play all the events that will bring it about, like Oedipus or MacBeth or King Herrod but also, in the way it loops back on itself, echoing the legends of Sisyphus and the punishment of Prometheus.
My friends Adam Hill and Sam Wilson put together a handy chart tracking some of the different models used in recent pop culture. It was a fun project and I'd love to know what you think, what's missing from the chart and where other books and movies fit in.
You can pick up a copy of The Shining Girls in a shiny new paperback today!