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Ninety years ago I was a freak. Today I'm an amateur.

1979 novel by Karl Alexander and movie directed by Nicholas Meyer (which, while based on the book, was made before it was published) starring Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen.

In 1893, aspiring writer and inventor H. G. Wells (McDowell) invites some friends over to dinner, where he shows them one of his latest inventions -- a device he claims can travel through time. Despite the general mockery he receives, one of them -- a surgeon called John Leslie Stevenson (Warner) -- takes particular interest in his claims, and not for no reason; moments after, the police intrude into Wells' home, claiming to have traced none other than Jack the Ripper to the premises. When a search reveals that Stevenson has disappeared, Wells realises that not only is Stevenson the Ripper, but that he has used Wells' time machine to escape into the future and evade justice.

Appalled at the thought of having unleashed a monster onto the social utopia he believes the future will be, he decides to follow Stevenson into the future and bring him back to face justice. Arriving in San Francisco in 1979, Wells finds that the future is not everything he thought or hoped, befriends an attractive, feminist bank clerk named Amy Robbins (Steenburgen) and discovers that Stevenson is up to his old tricks -- and that Amy may be his next victim...


Tropes used in Time After Time include:
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: If not actually the first story to be built on the idea of "hey, what if H. G. Wells really did have a time machine?", then certainly one of the Trope Codifiers.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Stevenson. He finds out that being Jack the Ripper in the Twentieth Century makes him an amateur when it comes to killing, and feels right at home starting up his killing spree again.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The "send the passenger to infinity" key
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Wells finds that the future isn't the utopia he'd thought.
    • Also, he has this exchange with Amy:

Wells: Much superior to that Scottish place where I breakfasted.

(Amy looks at him in confusion)

Wells: MacDougal's.

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