It’s Just a Jump to the Left
Time Travel, it’s the dream right? Now where do I go from here? See, this is a loaded subject with tons of different thoughts and conjectures (and I don’t know that I plan to answer anything). The simple thing, of course, is it isn’t possible to change our past. And this is sort of where I came into the realm of thought on the subject.
My first encounter wasn’t with HG Wells and his time machine. That would be too easy and might have changed the way I viewed time travel. Instead I have two different sources. The first would be Dr. Who. But if you ever really look at the show, the time travel within it doesn’t really have an effect on the world at large. Not in some grand scope, not like the way “The Sound of Thunder” from Bradbury did. Which come to think of it now, the Bradbury story was more likely my first notion of time travel.
Which leads me to the biggest source for any thoughts I have on time travel. Back in 1984 the Timewars saga by Simon Hawk began with the book The Ivanhoe Gambit. Forever would be changed the way I view time and time travel.
To sum up…
The books started with the same way any technology seems to go, time travel was a useful way to wage wars. Essentially, we had begun traveling back in time to previous wars where we would put our troops into play on the opposing sides and tally winners and losers based on some convoluted algorithm. Of course, this meant that those of us in the present would be ok because all those people that were tallied in the death counts of war were supposed to die anyway. It’s kind of gruesome when you think about it.
This is the world we begin with, but it isn’t what we retain (and coming to the thoughts on the subject I have been mulling over). From this first book on we step from the normal into a world of time travel espionage. And we also step into the world of speculative thought on different timelines and divergent time streams.
The question postulated in time travel thought is, what happens if you go back in time to kill your own grandfather, would you cease to exist? The most basic answer is that it is impossible to do such a thing because of the paradox. Hence, divergent time streams, one where you have gone back in time and one where you never existed.
In the time wars books we find the time streams begin to run amok and there are a huge number of divergent timelines and to make matters worse a war between the timelines comes about because of gross negligence. Fun stuff all playing within the thought framework of what can happen within a time travel perspective.
We have been watching the show Timeless. And it has brought a number of these questions to mind as they hobble through time. The main thing being the changes to the timeline they are making as they travel. A number of prominent historical figures have been murdered in their travels. They have shown some of the effects that this has had within the story when the travelers come back to the present.
But the issue I see, their travels and tribulations are not having a significant effect on the world as the characters know it. Sure one character has lost a sister due to time line changes but the other stuff they have shown hasn’t been all that influential overall. Which brings us back to the story “The Sound of Thunder.”
Within that story, the damage came from the squashing of a butterfly. History went a completely different course. The changes were huge.
So what we find is, no one really knows what might happen. Which is something that had been discussed within the Time Wars books. The pervasive theory being that time is like a river. When you throw a small rock into a flowing river, you create ripples, but the stream still flows. The larger the rock the larger the ripples, where eventually you can cause a split in the stream. Most of the turmoil is around the impact itself. The stream still carries on.
This leaves us with more unanswered questions than answers. Or maybe it’s just me. Of course, the writer is going to set the parameters of their story as they see fit to do so. This may not cause a split in the time stream but it does seem to give us new ways of looking at how those splits can happen and think about the ways we in turn affect the history of the world around us. Or something…
At least until we do the time warp again…
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