Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Microstory 763: Time Travel

People often come with me with questions about how time travel works. They watch a movie about it, and are confused on the timeline. Sometimes I can help them, because I’m fairly well-versed in the subject of time travel in fiction, but sometimes it’s done so horribly, or confusingly, that even I can’t follow it. A lot of writers seem to keep making the same mistakes, and I would like to clear some of them up. First, you can’t have an event in one moment of time have some effect on an event in another moment without impacting the time in between. If today you went back to when you were in first grade, and stopped yourself from cheating on a test, you would not suddenly feel the effects of that once you returned to you own time. A whole bunch of other things happened in between. While we’re on this subject, you can’t return to your own time anyway, or rather if you did, you would find yourself in an alternate timeline. You would have to deal with the version of yourself who is living there. A single timeline simply does not explain the point of divergence, for if you succeed in stopping yourself from cheating, Future!You would have no reason to go back and change it, which would leave it unchanged, which would give you a reason to go back and change it, and so on, ad infinitum. Alternate timelines are the only logical consequence of any time traveling event. Writers also try to bring in bogus tropes that make no sense. They have timewaves, which somehow affect the timeline at a different rate than the flow of time itself. This allows people to see the changes that are being made all around them, and maintain their memory of how things were before. But this is impossible. Like I’ve said about the alternate timeline, as soon as you go back to first grade, everything changes, from that moment of egress, onwards. One may be able to jump from one moment in time to another, but that does not stop time from moving forward at a constant. Now, this constant gets a little more complicated when you factor in relativity, but it is still always moving forwards. Time doesn’t change, only an observer’s perspective of it. I could go on about the issues I see, but no one has time for that. There’s a lot we don’t know about how time works, but by as much as I write about it, and the manipulation of it, there is one undeniable truth that must not be ignored. Time travel can happen by one of two ways: it either can not, or should not.

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