Time slip is a plot device in which a person, or group of people, seem to travel through time by unknown means. Popular in children's literature, 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 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.
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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 to the character's original time at the climax of the story by a process just as unpredictable and uncontrolled as the original time slip. 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.
- Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction Literature, "Timeslip romance", p. 357
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- "Timeslip". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.