All right boys and girls, let’s talk about time travel, a mainstay of the genre that our dear website is here to celebrate! Nothing in the realm of sci-fi is as popular or as often used as the concept of time travel. It’s such a cool concept that even fantasy stories tend to use it as a plot point, with some magical MacGuffin shooting our heroes into the time vortex. Who can blame them? As a plot device it is incredibly useful. It can be utilized as the ultimate flashback. Or, in the case of the Eureka series, it can be used to completely rewrite the entire show so that the last season is more interesting.
So, in honor of our favorite method of “transportation,” I am going to take you on a brief lesson in the finer points of time travel, mainly dealing with the rules of how it works, based of course on television and movies. Oh, and of course in list form, because who doesn’t love a good list?
These are The Top Five Laws of Time!
NUMBER FIVE: Destiny Timeline
FEATURED IN: My Life as a Teenage Robot – “Future Shock”
A rather boring way of seeing time, this one dictates that everything in the universe is incredibly rigid in its rules. Not only should you not be able to travel back in time but, if you did manage it, you would be ghost-like or really unlucky as you would simply never be in the right place at the right time. It’s almost like the universe is trying to protect itself. You stabbed Hitler in the skull with a Bowie knife? Well, I am sure it was cathartic, but that knife somehow missed his brain and did no damage at all! This version of time travel usually involves people glimpsing or quickly popping into the future. Then, in most cases, the character will try to change it to no avail.
NUMBER FOUR: Stable Loop
FEATURED IN: Futurama – “Roswell That Ends Well”
All right, so let’s say you manage to go back in time. Well, according to this rule, it would be more like a vacation than anything else as time will not allow you to change anything, at least in any noticeable way. This prevents any method of creating a paradox. Anything connected with the reason that you time traveled will stay exactly the same. Perhaps you wanted to go back in time to, say, prevent yourself from dropping that sandwich you had worked on for all those hours. Even if you managed to save it from its meeting with the floor, it would still become inedible in some way. Really a rather dark way to look at things (shameless plug). Maybe the others will offer something a bit more workable.
NUMBER THREE: Butterfly Effect
FEATURED IN: A Lot
Do not time travel! Just don’t! Everything that is or will ever be is a result of incredibly precise planning or the most mind boggling of coincidences! If you change anything at all, then this article could end up being about how to grow jubjube trees in your skeleton garden! Every change matters, and depending on how far back you went in time it can only snowball harder. If you are traveling through time, I hope you did your research, because that pebble needs to be at exactly forty-five degrees to the left or we all end up on the underside of Jim Henson’s left kidney!
NUMBER TWO: Divergent Points
FEATURED IN: The Back to the Future Trilogy
Time is a straight line, a flowing pulse of exact events. Except if you change something. It’s easy enough to do so, but not something you can do with the brush of a finger on a door. Things can be changed, but an effort has to be put on it. Then, once you push it to that point, the universe splits into strands. Everything coming before that point is completely unchanged, but the world now has two alternate choices. In addition, every time you return and don’t set it back to one of the existing ones, it makes another. Usually, when this shows up, the character manages to reset to the original, but I don’t think that you should go messing with this one. I hear slowly fading is not a pleasant way to go.
NUMBER ONE: Wobbly Time
FEATURED IN: Doctor Who
People assume time is a linear progression of cause to effect, but from a…alright so i’m not going to do the whole rant. The point is that time is a bunch of metal spheres in a maelstrom of crazy. Some things must happen, no matter what. If Grandma is going to eat that bagel, then even if nuclear war breaks out, she is going to snarf down those carbs, dammit. But everything else is open to any sort of shenanigans. Anything could change, in all sorts of strange ways. Good luck keeping a timeline because it could rewrite itself in an instant. Only the Time Lords can keep it all straight, and they don’t seem to want to tell us about it until it’s thematically important.
Well, I hope all you future time travelers have learned a bit about what you might have to deal with during your adventures. Keep these things in mind and maybe you won’t screw us all over this time. Do you know how long it took me to set the world back in place? A world run by a single massive bee was sort of boring, surprisingly.
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