I am a massive – massive – fan of time travel. Forwards or backwards, it matters not. I love the whole concept of time travel, whether this is achieved through self-hypnosis, a machine, an object, a portal, an accident or a slip through time itself is irrelevant. Time travel and it’s various devices and consequences is a common theme, with each author having their own vision.
An Introduction to Time Travel
I think the Doctor (Who) describes Time travel best. In Blink, he finds himself in the position whereby he and his assistant have been transported back in time without the Tardis. At a pivotal moment in this episode he explains how ‘People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.’
Time travel devices
Is it possible to use your mind to return to a point in the past? In Somewhere in Time (1980), ‘A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to find the actress whose vintage portrait hangs in a grand hotel.’
I remember watching this years ago (it’s a great little film if you like some time travel romance).
Still on the subject of films, one of my absolute favourites in the time travel genre is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949):
A bump on the head sends Hank Martin, 1912 mechanic, to Arthurian Britain, 528 A.D., where he is befriended by Sir Sagramore le Desirous and gains power by judicious use of technology. He and Alisande, the King’s niece, fall in love at first sight, which draws unwelcome attention from her fiancée Sir Lancelot; but worse trouble befalls when Hank meddles in the kingdom’s politics.
It’s a memorable film, using modern day science to confront old English beliefs, and includes the severely catchy song, ‘Busy doing nothing.’
Time travel machines
In Back to the Future, Marty Mcfly travels back into the past in a car – a Delorean to be precise – where he bumps into his parents, disturbing the flow of the past and threatening his very existence.
Machines are quite common in Time Travel fiction. H.G.Wells novel The Time Machine introduced time travel through mechanical means, Doctor Who, of course, has his Tardis, and in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a phone box was used.
In the Philadelphia Experiment, an entire battleship travelled back in time while participating in an invisibility experiment, while in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home the Enterprise travelled back through time when it became apparent Earth’s continued existence was threatened.
Time travel objects
Objects are another common means of engaging in Time Travel, be it a Vortex Manipulator like Captain Jack Harkness’ (Torchwood/Doctor Who), a medallion as in J.W.Penn’s Emperors of Time or Travel Glasses as in Chess Desalls book of the same name.
Whatever the ‘object,’ the purpose remains the same – to propel the user of the object from one point in time to another.
Time travel portals
Another means of travelling through time is the ‘portal’ – which in my mind conjures up images similar to that in Stargate (1994), where one can enter a structured portal in one time and arrive through its twin in another.
Out of all the methods of travelling through time, Timeslips fascinate me. There are a lot of stories on the internet of people accidentally ‘walking’ into the past, albeit for short periods. One particularly well known account is that of Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain who became lost on holiday in France while searching for a chateau. They came across some people dressed in 1789 attire and saw buildings that hadn’t existed for many years. I don’t know how true this is, but the concept really does fascinate me. You can read more about it here: the Versailles Time slip.
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