Today on Demention we are delighted to host guest blogger Kate Atherton, who book blogs on the fabulous For Winter Nights about YA, sci-fi, thrillers and historical fiction. She also has a film blog Movie Brit and you can follow her on Twitter @Wetdarkandwild.
With the release of blockbusting time travel movie LOOPER, Kate takes a trip through the fascinating paradoxes of TIME TRAVEL and asks - if we could, should we?
And what would YOU do, if you could...?
|Is it best not to mess with time?|
Time will tell...
As certain as day follows night follows day, time marches on and waits for no man or woman – although, strangely, as the years go by it does seem to speed up. But, while most of us have yet to work out how to rein it in, short of investing in expensive cosmetic products, novelists and film makers appear to have discovered the secret to turning back time, taking us (if we have a mind to believe) back in time and even into the future. It seems that time travel does exist after all.
Of course, there are rules to be obeyed. A transient knowledge of Star Trek moral codes will warn us that if we upset the space time continuum there will be dire consequences. All right it may save humpback whales and release Voyager from an icy tomb but if you mess around with time you may end of up never having been born at all.
Looper is the latest presentation of movie time travel and it sums up confusingly the perplexing paradoxes of moving through time. By killing one's future self in the past and then killing one's past self in the future, how can there even be a movie in the first place?
H.G. Wells has much to answer for. While I'm not completely up to date with time travel in Classical and medieval texts, it's quite likely that The Time Machine was one of the first depictions of such a vehicle or machine in literature. However, considering that it led to an unpleasant encounter with the Morlocks, the ultimately evolved working man, it's surprising that there were any more. Nevertheless, many years on, Jeremy Irons dusted off the machine only to find himself back in the future in the same place. You'd have thought he would have read up on it first.
Interestingly, Felix Palma re-examines the evidence of the H.G. Wells time machine in The Map of Time – travel through the Fourth Dimension might not be all that it cracks up to be. Although, if you lived in a London predated upon by Jack the Ripper, or you happen to be the Elephant Man, you can understand the appeal. In the latest novel, The Map of the Sky, Palma takes a closer look at H.G. Wells' reports of the invasion by Martians, another event that may lay in store for us for which we should prepare.
My favourite series of children's books focuses upon time travel – Alex Scarrow's TimeRiders. In each of the books the intrepid teen heroes, each rescued out of time, travel back to a different period of time (Jurassic, Roman, Norman, American Civil War and Victorian times) to right the wrongs that have been made in the past by the future. But what if the future has become so terrible that this seems the only solution? Is it right to prevent the changes, even if it does mean that we end up evolving into a race of technologically-advanced lizards?
Which begs the question - what would you do if you could go back in time?
Is there a dictator you would like to kill or, as in the latest sixth TimeRiders novel, a human monster that needs to be stopped? But as City of Shadows showed, going back in time to kill Jack the Ripper might have seemed a good idea at the time, but its butterfly effect may have catastrophic consequences.
In Source Code, the secret sinister military have discovered a way to send an agent back into the last few hours of time, again and again. While this may have its uses – as here by solving a terrorist attack on a train and saving countless times – it's not necessarily good for the person who has to do the time changing, especially if it means having to be killed first.
Sometimes, though, travelling back in time can remind us of how good we have it now, even if the past is populated by the great artists and writers who lived in Paris in the 1930s. In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen uses time travel as a form of therapy for a neurotic novelist and an even more loopy muse. The present does have its charms especially, according to Mr Allen, in Paris in the rain. Personally speaking, Paris in the sunshine has a lot more going for it.
It is a fact of time travel that the past does not like to be changed. You only have to watch Twelve Monkeys to see the truth of that. And then there's Final Destination – five movies (at least) have now demonstrated convincingly that the future does not like to me messed with either. It would seem that the only potential way to alter the future is to reasses and redress the present.
What do you think?
What's your favourite time travel story?
What questions and paradoxes fascinate and perplex you?