Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time Travel - Do I really want to go there?

Time travel. I've been thinking about this lately-- as you do. (You can tell I've been hanging out with some sci-fi practitioners.)

It occurred to me that time travel in print and film isn't just time travel. It’s 'Take me back/forward in time -- and to somewhere more exciting.'

Logically, unless you choose somewhere with potential to start from, like Stonehenge or the Tower of London, time travel might be pretty boring. If your starting point is your own front room and all you do is move forward or backwards, how much fun would that be? The future might be interesting, provided your house isn’t destined to be under a shopping mall or an office block sometime in the future, but back in time would probably only land you in whatever field, forest or swamp was there before the house was built. Think about it.

So, most time travel seems to have time and space built in. Dr Who never knows when or where he might land, although I believe the TARDIS is meant to be programmed to take him to where there's some trouble that needs to be sorted out. If you were going back, you'd probably want to specify where, as well as when-- ancient Egypt, the coronation of Henry VIII, the first airplane flight.

And how would you do it? There are innumerable time machines, torpedoes, glass coffins, chariots pulled by geese, magic potions and fairy portals that will allegedly get you there – though getting back again seems to be more of a problem.

Apparently, C. S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien dabbled in what we would now call science-fiction at one time -- in Lewis's case, the result was Out of the Silent Planet. Tolkien's efforts are a tantalising series of incomplete notes and drafts, but his take on time travel seems to be that it was all in the mind, and that it would be achieved through dreams and tapping into collective memory. I have to say that idea appeals to me much more than the 'Step into my time machine.' approach.

So, that's today's question. If you could travel in time:
1. Would you?
2. If you would, how would you like to go?
3. Where/when would you like to go?

Or would you rather do it through the pages of a book?


Terry Odell said...

When I was much, much younger, I thought it would be cool to visit the "Little House on the Prairie" days. Rememeber, just about the only stuff on tv back then was westerns.

And I love touring the historical sites, such as Colonial Williamsburg or Jamestown.

Then came Star Trek, and I thought that might be cool.

Never gave a thought to HOW I'd get there, just that it would be neat.

I think I'll stick to books.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I would prefer to travel anywhere/anytime through a book. I really loath traveling. All my comfy stuff is at my house and my dog has her own little door and it's just so much easier to stay here.

I remember in that old Time Machine movie where the machine sat and everything around him changed. I thought that was one of the coolest effects I'd ever seen (well, I was 7 and easily impressed). Also, in Red Dwarf, the guys get a hold of a time machine and all it does is move them through time but they are in the exact same space so nothing really happens. I thought that was very funny. :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Time travel is endlessly fascinating. I love time traveling through books and movies. What could be more fun than Back to the Future...well, never mind. Actually, there are an infinite possibility of fun scenaries.
Terry, I'm with you. I love those historical sites, and got to experience Colonial Williamsburg.
Okay, I could pen pages and pages. One of my fave time travel notions is as a type of OverSight or OverSeer. That is, I could travel back to the beginning of Earth as a planet, and watch life unfold from the beginning up to the present time. Without being trapped in any particular period of time.
Anitra, I never saw Red Dwarf. That sounds good. And funny.
Anyone hear the name John Titor before? or past, present and future?
Cool, cool blog, Evonne!

Helen Scott Taylor said...

strange, my husband and I were only discussing this today. If we could go back or forward in time, which would we choose. I didn't make up my mind. I think I'd be scared about what I'd find if I went forward in time. So I'd probably choose to go back. What I'd like is to be invisible so I could observe without being observed. I saw a film something like this once--time tourists or something.

Mai Christy Thao said...

Excellent post, Evonne. If I could travle in time, I honestly don't know if I would. I'd be too chicken, to tell the truth. I don't want to know what the future will hold, and I certainly don't want to be without internet or indoor plumbing, so no going to the past for me. I prefer my time traveling done through the pages of a book or a movie screen. Perhaps that's why (at least for the time being) time traveling is humanly impossible.