Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.

April16th

Occasionally, one hears pundits and savants assert that Time Travel is dangerous. Moreover, the same gurus even go on to aver that the very idea of Time Travel is fraught with peril.

Nothing could be further from the truth, which is that Time Travel is essential to our way of life.

As is my wont, I went looking for a pithy quote to launch this searing exploration of temporal matters.

I considered Stephen Hawking. No. I thought about Einstein. No. I wanted the best, the most thoughtful, the most penetrating intellect on my side. So I chose the esteemed Writer and Philosopher Mr William Shatner.

He declared: ‘I find the whole time travel question very unsettling if you take it to its logical extension. I think it might eventually be possible, but then what happens?’

And if the words of the man who played the immortal TJ Hooker aren’t enough for you, I have a case of my own to prosecute.

Books, movies, TV – can you think of a time when Time Travel has ever turned out well? To writers, Time Travel can safely be put in the basket of items to insert when you need to have everything go horribly wrong. Time Travel is a mess. Time Travel is dangerous. Time Travel is a disaster.

This might sound like a strange way to assert that Time Travel is something that should be undertaken as often as possible, but bear with me. My argument is subtle, it is complex, it is multi-faceted, but then again, I’m sure you can keep up. I have nothing but the highest regard for my readers.

Why everyone should undertake Time Travel is because without it, writers everywhere would be driven to despair. Think about it, it’s such a rich and fertile area for plot thickeners. Take Time Travel out of Wells’ The Time Machine and you pretty much have a story about a man who doesn’t go anywhere. Take Time Travel out of The Edge of Tomorrow and Tom Cruise would miss out on his only good role in the last ten years. Take Time Travel out of the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series and you have a program that would be pretty empty and probably not worth making.

Scratch that last example. Dammit.

I’m asking you to think of the writers. Those poor, misunderstood, exploited – did I mention poor? – souls who do their best to bring a little happiness into your lives. Do you really want to deprive them of a tiny morsel which could brighten their blighted lives? Do you want them to do without something that could make their twisted, deprived and possibly soulless existences a little easier?

I thought not.

If there is no Time Travel, all our lives – all our lives, I tell you – would be immeasurably poorer. We would:

  • have no Morlocks or Eloi
  • have no special De Loreans
  • have no bootstrapped zombies
  • no dinosaurs stepping on butterflies leading to awful spelling mistakesdelorean
  • have no excellent adventure for Bill and Ted
  • Happy ending at the end of Christopher Reeves Superman 1
  • have no Doomsday Book, no Anubis Gates and no Time Traveller’s Wife
  • have no Outlander, no Life on Mars, no Time Tunnel.

A world without such creations would be a much lesser world indeed.

To put it another way, we’re all time travellers – it’s just that we’re doing it very, very slowly. It takes us one day to travel one day into the future. And I, for one, will have no truck with anyone who wishes to assert the opposite and to deny our very way of life.

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