Turning back the clock

Cover of Quantum Leap#10, art by C. Winston Taylor
TIme travel or no time travel?

Last year, my wife presented me with a wild idea for a science fiction book.

I’m not a devotee to the genre, but I LOVE Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, and H.G. Wells, among others. Some of my favorite TV shows were sci-fi: Smallville, Quantum Leap, Sliders, and No Ordinary Family (yeah, I know that last one was rotten!).

The concept forced me to think about two well-worn, sci-fi motifs: alternate realities and time travel. By and large, both have not been done well, or at least without a gaping plot hole left unexplained.

Here’s what I came up with: time travel works only if you travel to a date within your lifetime and never return to the present you knew. Doing it within your lifetime solves the “how-did-he-not-drastically-alter-history?” and never returning fixes the “how-is-everything-pretty-much-the-same?” issue. You create a different reality by changing your choice and living with it.

We take it for granted, but there are trillions of things we effect each day just by our existence at a particular space and time. Changing that balance causes an alternate reality of chaos, and chaos is unpredictable and dangerous.

Once, my wife and I got rear-ended by an elderly couple in a sedan. In front of us was a large truck several feet higher than our hood. At their speed, had we not been between them and the truck, the impact might have seriously injured or killed them.

While writing, I asked people this question: given the opportunity to travel back in time, would you? No. Why not?  Because my experiences made me who I am. These are the stock answers I received.

It’s pointless to even ask because time travel is impossible. It’s like playing Texas Hold ‘Em with no money on the table. There’s no risk involved.

Think of the worst thing that ever happened to you, or a grand mistake you made that changed your life for the worst. If offered a bona fide opportunity to avoid a painful situation like that, wouldn’t you at least think about it?

Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also the author of acclaimed Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, The Revelation Gate and the upcoming 2012 release, The Anarchists. 

3 thoughts on “Turning back the clock

  1. Hmmm. Tough one. Time travel is a tricky subject. There are many theories about it, and twice as many movies about it. I feel only a few of them have it as close to the theories. Movies like Time Cop, and Back to the Future work off the idea of creating a SEPARATE Alternate reality as a BRANCH OFF of the timelime, after a supposed time infraction. While other movies such as Deja Vu, Timeline, and The Time Traveler’s Wife deal with Time Paradoxes. I feel whatever HAS happened IS WHAT HAPPENED. By going back to CHANGE something you would be the catalyst for the event itself. I would like to think that there are and (maybe there is) an ALTERNATE version of me somewhere Rich and/or famous, or maybe I didn’t go into St. Louis Mills on the Saturday I met my Now Ex-Wife causing me to never have met her and go through that situation. Not sure if it is POSSIBLE to change things. ALTHOUGH, If I had the Knowledge I have NOW, and had the ability to Time travel my consciousness INTO my body as a child I think THAT would be something! THEN yes, I would change some things! *L*

  2. It’s funny that you bring this up, because I was discussing the concept of regret and plan changes with my wife last night. I told her I’ve had a lot of crap happen as an adult, much of which I couldn’t do much to prevent. However, I told her that even if I could prevent certain things from happening, or if I could go back in time and make different decisions, ultimately I know I wouldn’t do it because changing those things does not guarantee happiness. Sure, there are certainly some things I wish wouldn’t have happened, and there are times I wonder what would’ve happened if I took the other fork in the road, but ultimately I’ve learned that I don’t really know anything. I can’t tell the future with any amount of reliable accuracy. I make the best decisions I can with the information I have at the time and try to follow the plans I set, and yet, things happen that I certainly don’t want to happen. However, for all I know the crap that happened was actually a better outcome than any alternative. Unless I can guarantee happiness, I’m not changing anything.

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