Hop On A Time Machine...Ticket To Tunnel Vision?
The Concept of Time Travel Is Fascinating, But....
Imagine being offered a ticket on a device that could travel through time. Would you take it? if your answer is "yes," imagine that the ticket has a few conditions:
- You may choose only one time period, either a specific time in the past or in the future.
- There is a slight possibility that you will not be able to return to the present.
- If you choose to return to the past, you may not change anything even one iota, or the entire course of history will be altered.
Do you still want to go? Let's consider each of the conditions before you answer that question. First, you need to choose: past or future? It might be more interesting to check into a hotel of the future, since you already know what happened in the past, but consider this: what if you travel too far into the future and find.... nothing. Hopefully, you'd be able to get back to the present. If not, however, it wouldn't be too interesting to be floating around the (non-) universe in a Time Machine. Of course, chances are you would end up somewhere. You might just find yourself, like H.G. Wells' Time Traveller, in the land of the Eloi and the Morlocks.
If you read Wells' The Time Machine, you might recall that enticing as The Traveler's future destination seemed at first, The Traveler quickly learned that You can't judge a book by its cover , or a place by its lush, green fields and its sweet, simplistic, stupid inhabitants, in this case, the Eloi. It seemed that they lived such an idyllic, carefree life.... until the planet's other species, the cannibalistic Morlocks, came and snatched a few Eloi for their dinner in the underground world of darkness and machines which they inhabited. Of course, as soon as you saw the Morlocks approaching, you'd head for your time machine and rush back to 2011....if condition #2 didn't kick in, of course.
FORWARD TO....THE PAST?
Okay. So much for the future. Let's consider a trip back to the past. After all, we know what happened back then. You can only choose one destination, though, and we have to keep in mind condition #3: yon can't change anything even one tiny bit. Let's see, what about ancient Rome or Egypt? We do know that there were some good times to be had; we also know there was a lot of of bloodshed. If you choose Rome, then, you'd better become fast friends with the Emperor. Oh, right, He was murdered. Forget Rome. Egypt would be cool, though, with the pyramids and the Sphinx and all. You might not want to be stuck reading nothing but hieroglyphics on stone tablets for eternity, though, if condition #2 kicked in.
If you want to stick around home, the time period for you might be during our very own Revolutionary War. You could head up to Boston or down to Philadelphia and meet some well-known forefathers like Sam Adams, Ben Franklin, and George Washington. You might even be able to convince John Hancock to sign something for you. On the other hand, you could go back to 1861 or thereabouts and check out the Civil War first hand. You might want to hang around around New York and just read about it in the newspapers. Speaking of newspapers, you could snag a job as a journalist and interview General Grant or General McClellan. It really would be exciting to get Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis's take on the situation, too, but I'd stay away from the South. Things weren't too stable down there, if you recall. Abraham Lincoln would be the epitome of a dream interview, but he was awfully busy, and anyway, you might be tempted to warn him not to go to Ford's Theater; according to condition #3 on your ticket, you can't change anything, remember?
Condition #3 does cast a shadow on quite a few trips, as a matter of fact. It certainly would cancel heading back to the World War I era, for example. It would be amazing to meet some of the writers from the 1920s, like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein, to name just a few, but you'd probably get so enmeshed in their dialogue that you might let something slip. World War II would absolutely be a bad choice. How could anyone go back there and not attempt to change things?
Jack Finney actually took a look at time traveling into the past in his novel The and Again, and, twenty-five years later, From Time To Time. His Traveler, Simon Morley, faced a dilemma of, literally, historic proportions and made a life-changing decision that affected not only himself, but.... I don't want to spoil it. Suffice it to say that Jack Finney had some interesting ideas about time travel. You might want to read his books in addition to The Time Machine before making your decision. The Time Traveler's Wife is also a good read but definitely might dissuade you from taking the trip. After all, that Traveler got stuck in a kind-of uncontrollable time warp.
So.... have you decided? It's definitely a tough decision to make, particularly with those three conditions attached. It would be fantastic to be a part of history, but assuming a position of detached observer would be almost impossible. Perhaps it would be a better idea to stay right where you are and play a part in making history. Think about it......