Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's About Time ...

I don't like time travel stories. Nope. Not for me.

Why? Well, a lot of reasons that could just as easily be someone else's reasons for not liking a different type of story. I don't buy into the whole premise, as it's so far outside of the realm of possible science. The whole butterfly effect thing  (you breathe in the past and the world is entirely restructured) has been done so many times, with so few variations in theme and result, etc, that I don't understand why writers still want to write something that's already been beaten to death.

The next common theme of time travel fiction, of going back/forward in time to meet/see yourself/significant other/ancestor/descendant does nothing for me. It's not going to happen, ever, in this world or another (I mean, can you imagine the disaster the world would be if you could tamper with its chronology in any such way???) so why even pretend?

If you are one of those people who likes time travel, then you're probably saying, at this point, something like "Well, isn't that the point of fiction? It's SCIENCE FICTION! And 99% of other SF and Fantasy won't ever happen, anywhere, ever, either!"

And you'd be right. That is very true. A lot of other tropes of the genre have been beaten past the point of death, too.

Maybe my real problem is that every time travel story I read sounds like the last one I read. Especially when you get into the mire of Back to the Future-style past-self/future-self stuff, I start to cry blood. It's been done! Let it die! Then again, maybe I've seen Back to the Future waaay to many times. That could be it too.

Although, I do like the third movie (as much as I can for time travel); I understand the appeal of putting a present-time character into a historical situation--then you can use that character as a stand-in for an audience that doesn't quite understand the time period otherwise; it helps us identify. You can explain things. But it's also pretty damn cutesy. I don't really do cutesy.

I don't get why people think going into the past could possibly in any way shape or form improve anything ever. 'I will go 150 years into the past to stop the plague of Rocky Mountain Weasel Fever that wiped out half of the world's population!' says the Heroic Time Traveler. Never once thinking this might turn out badly. Overpopulation much? It doesn't take a genius to see potentialities like this in every 'I WILL FIX THE PAST' scenario that's ever existed. Oh, and then you get the ones where the time traveler fixes the past, only to make it so they themselves were never born! Arrrg, spare me.

So maybe that's the crux of my problem. To time travel you (theoretically) have to be smart enough to build or operate a time machine, but also must be stupid enough to never wonder what could possibly go wrong. Because to time travel fully aware that you might screw up the chronology of the world to the point that you never existed in the first place either makes for a deep, subliminal message about time travel stories, or just proves the flaw of the theme.

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