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This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #6: Is it really that [time] again?.


Please keep your arms and legs inside the space-time continuum at all times

[ An old man becomes kind after seeing ghosts, 1843 ] (14)
[ An inventor uses a vehicle to get a nice story for dinner, 1895 ] (13)
[ A tailor learns a new language and gains telepathic abilities, 1950 ] (2)
[ A man and a cyborg try to meet a woman for different reasons, 1984 ] (1)
[ Two engineers create a box and stop being friends, 2004 ] (2)
[ A weatherman wakes up and tries to seduce his producer, 1993 ] (4)
[ A CIA operative fails an operation and gets recruited by another organization, 2020 ] (2)
[ A robot goes back in time to steal everything precious for scammers, 2007 ] (12)
[ A man goes on to fight aliens and meets a woman who does the same, 2014 ] (5)
[ A team of heroes foil the plans of an alien ruler, 2019 ] (14)
[ A teen takes a large course and unknowingly frees two prisoners, 1999 ] (20)
[ A teen drives a very fast car and meets his parents, 1985 ] (3)

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To solve this -related puzzle, first we have to...

...identify the titles of movies and books involving time travel from their brief plot descriptions. These are as follows:

[ An old man becomes kind after seeing ghosts, 1843 ] (14) A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Charles Dickens)

[ An inventor uses a vehicle to get a nice story for dinner, 1895 ] (13) THE TIME MACHINE (H.G. Wells)

[ A tailor learns a new language and gains telepathic abilities, 1950 ] (2) PEBBLE IN THE SKY (Isaac Asimov)

[ A man and a cyborg try to meet a woman for different reasons, 1984 ] (1) THE TERMINATOR (movie)

[ Two engineers create a box and stop being friends, 2004 ] (2) PRIMER (movie)

[ A weatherman wakes up and tries to seduce his producer, 1993 ] (4) GROUNDHOG DAY (movie)

[ A CIA operative fails an operation and gets recruited by another organization, 2020 ] (2) TENET (movie)

[ A robot goes back in time to steal everything precious for scammers, 2007 ] (12) BENDER’S BIG SCORE (movie)

[ A man goes on to fight aliens and meets a woman who does the same, 2014 ] (5) EDGE OF TOMORROW (movie)

[ A team of heroes foil the plans of an alien ruler, 2019 ] (14) AVENGERS: ENDGAME (movie)

[ A teen takes a large course and unknowingly frees two prisoners, 1999 ] (20) HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (J.K. Rowling)

[ A teen drives a very fast car and meets his parents, 1985 ] (3) BACK TO THE FUTURE (movie)

Next look at the numbers in parentheses at the end of each clue.

These are not letter counts. Instead they are indices, indicating a letter of the movie/book title that needs to be pulled out to help spell the final answer. Doing this yields the phrase ONE TRUE COMIC.

What does this mean?

Well, 'One True Comic' is a phrase referring to the xkcd web-comic instalment whose title is 'Time' - a comic that the OP of this question has listed as being one of their favourites in the description for this month's challenge! The novelty behind this comic was that instead of being just a single still image, it actually consisted of 3101 stills, updating itself hourly over 4 months in 2013. It is held by many to be a masterpiece of web comic ingenuity.

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    $\begingroup$ I wanted to say I expected this to take longer, but then when I saw who solved it. Congrats to you ! $\endgroup$
    – Auribouros
    Jan 5, 2023 at 9:34

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