Marty hopped in the DeLorean when he whipped through time. Dr. Who has the blue police box-look-alike TARDIS (“Time And Relative Dimension In Space machine), while the hero of The Time Machine had a really cool steam-punkish (even in the 1960’s) actual time machine.
The inventors and accidental tourists of several dozen of my favourite TV series, movies and books who have crossed time have all tripped over the time-space barrier with the help of space ships (and once, a whole battle cruiser ship ship), hand-held warping machines, room- and planet-sized computers and equipment, or sometimes just a man with really bad taste in clothes on the other side of the continuum handing out platitudes and advise while he smoked a cheap cigar and banged on a hand-held device that provided questionable data.
Just “crossing over” without help of steel, rivets and bulkheads, bits or bytes, seems to be purely the province of the romance novel.
I’ve seen heroines step through pictures, cross open fields, drive into a tree and emerge on the other side (huh?), go to sleep and wake up “there”, and in the one romantic time travel movie I can recall in the last few years, she fell through a time warp (still no machinery – although the 19th century hero was a forward thinking who was into mechanical devices).
Steam punk may change this really broad divider, but I’m hoping we don’t have to wait for the steam punk authors to deliver us from lethargy. I’m hoping a romance author, someday soon, comes up with a time travel tale that does involve gears, wheels, or computer chips, moving parts and/or rivets, just to defy the cliché.
Who knows…perhaps that author will be me. 🙂