I’m a sucker for time travel.
Backwards time travel, that is. Forwards time travel, not so much. I do that all the time.
And when I say I’m a sucker for backwards time travel, I’m talking about stories and books and TV shows and movies about it, not actual backwards time travel. Alas, while that would be spiffy too, I’ve never managed to do anything but travel in the forward temporal direction. Oh sure, I’ve sat through some meetings that slowed time down, but I’ve yet to endure an event that reverses it.
Though I’ve heard reports of an Amway pitch in Bowling Green, Ohio on August 12, 1978 that stopped time for 3.8 seconds.
I was too young to attend at the time, but I totally would travel back in time to go to that, if time travel were possible.
After that incident, Amway set up stringent guidelines on how to run your pitches, to avoid any cataclysmic ruptures in space-time. With mixed results. Did you know those semi-regular additions of time to the clock on New Year’s Eve are due to rogue Amway pitches? Totally true.
Why am I a sucker for backwards time travel if I’ve never actually done it? Because the idea of popping back to witness important historical events is fascinating. I’d love to dress up in a fancy costume, pop back, and immerse myself in a historical period. I could slip back and ensure Jane Austen never marries. That would change the tone of her books, wouldn’t it? Or right a wrong, like making sure that bastard Alexander Hamilton doesn’t kill Aaron Burr in their duel.
Or prevent my parents from ever meeting. Boy, would that ever save the world a lot of trouble!
I’ve also considered bitch-slapping Hitler and then shanking his ass, thus ending World War II in 1944 or 1945 instead of 1948, but I suspect that particular scenario is pretty high on all the time traveler tourist agendas. Hell, they probably have temporal docents sternly leading groups through the bunker, talking with a slight lisp and their nose high up in the air:
“And to our right is Adolf Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany, instigator of World War II, and world backgammon champion of 1936. It is said his bitterness over losing the title led to the eventual invasion of Poland. Currently, he is getting a completely platonic back rub from Joseph Goebbels. Oops, and now another tour group has arrived, and as you can see, they are bitch-slapping Hitler something fierce. Goebbels is trying to intervene, but he isn’t prepared for modern weapons like that group has. And now they’re stabbing Hitler with a collection of butter knives, spoons, and, I think, yes, a spork. Don’t worry, we’ll resuscitate him and you’ll all get your chance. Make sure your toothbrush or comb has been filed down to a nice, sharp point.”
But time travel has some seriously heavy downsides to it, Van Damme law enforcement movies notwithstanding. You can erase your parents, yourself, your family and friends; heck, if one of those tourists dropped a taser and Hitler got hold if it, our entire society could vanish in a puff of paradox and we’d all be goose-stepping to the Horst-Wessel-Lied.
Paradox is nasty. Worse than second-hand cigar smoke, and nearly as carcinogenic.
Scientists way smarter than me say that this is a good thing. Paradox means that time travel is impossible, so we don’t have to worry about things like George W. Bush getting elected president instead of Al Gore. Man, what a bullet we dodged there, and all because time travel is impossible!
But that does leave me feeling pretty bummed. Because horrific downsides or not, I think traveling back in time would be really, really cool. I could totally snag the Magna Carta from King John right after he signs it, and sell it on eBay. Or pay Michelangelo to paint a handlebar mustache on his rendition of God on the Sistine Chapel. Maybe even curling the end instead of reaching out to Adam.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an Amway pitch to attend. This guy is breaking all their sales record, so he has to be bending time and space as well as the rules.
And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
My book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, is out!