Entry updated 20 June 2022. Tagged: Theme.
Term coined for that special sf brand of War which is fought across Time, usually with each side knowingly using Time Travel, tampering with causality and perhaps setting up destructive Time Paradoxes in an attempt to establish the ascendancy of one or another version of history. Although Fritz Leiber provided the name in his Change War series – notably The Big Time (March-April 1958 Galaxy; 1961 dos) and the stories assembled as The Change War (coll of linked stories 1978; cut vt Changewar 1983) – the classic example is Jack Williamson's The Legion of Time (May-July 1938 Astounding; rev 1952), with its rival future civilizations striving to manipulate the crucial Jonbar Point that determines which of them will come into being.
Further examples include certain of Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories, such as "Delenda Est" (December 1955 F&SF); Keith Laumer's Dinosaur Beach (1971) and Barrington J Bayley's The Fall of Chronopolis (1974), both highly recomplicated; Simon Hawke's lengthy Timewars sequence beginning with Timewars: The Ivanhoe Gambit (1984); Diana Wynne Jones's A Tale of Time City (1987); David Wingrove's Roads to Moscow sequence, opening with The Empire of Time (2014); and Amal El-Mohtar's and Max Gladstone's This Is How You Lose the Time War (2019), featuring the epistolary friendship (growing into love) of agents on opposite sides.
In media sf, changewar storylines have occasionally appeared in Doctor Who (1963-current) and are central to the Terminator film/tv franchise; as a "temporal Cold War", the concept rather unsatisfactorily underlies Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005). [DRL]
previous versions of this entry