Posts from 27th April 2009

Apr 09

Frequently Asked Crimes About Time Travel

FT3 comments • 770 views

I used to think time travel was a great science fiction concept which had unlimited potential in creating exciting storylines. This is almost certainly the fault of
a) Doctor Who (who as a time traveller was having loads of great adventures)
b) Best SF short story anthologies of the 1980’s which often had a killer time travel story in them
c) That Fonzie cartoon where he travelled in time with a dog and stuff.

However these three sources of inspiration, only one ever used the philosophical and logical problems of time travel in as a springboard for the plot. And I should have noticed that while there was a more than significant WOW factor in a lot of those SF short stories, they had next to no characterisation and story beyond the twists. Because time travel really does tend to boil down to two or three conclusions:
a) fidelity to timeline (determinism)
b) non-fidelity to timeline leading to wiping out of timeline or history (destruction)
c) non-fidelity to timeline leading to parallel timeline (multiple worlds).

The only real suspense in a time travel storyline therefore is which of these schemas are being used: and once you know the time travel is no longer an interesting factor. Unless of course the story tries to use more than one of these ideas at once, or breaks its own rules to continue suspense.