Time Travel discussion

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General Time Travel Discussion > The Allure of Time Travel Narratives

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

The time-travel story is near and dear to my heart. I enjoy reading it; I love writing it, but I cannot quite understand what it is that makes the genre so appealing. Surely, the “science” fiction part is not what compels us, for I believe few fans of the genre really expect time travel to become a practical reality. Is it the fascination of a godlike power that would enable us to manipulate time, or is it an altruistic impulse to right the wrongs of history? I could list a dozen more possible motivations, but perhaps the very multitude of questions indicates the genre’s appeal.

Why do you read these wild stories?


message 2: by Michael (last edited Jan 20, 2015 02:58PM) (new)

Michael Stern | 10 comments Good question. For me, history has been my preferred reading subject since grade school. Anyone remember Landmark Books biographies? Time travel personalizes history more than even a historical novel. The scifi part is venturing into the future, which I haven't explored closely other than Dr. Who. I am completing the 5th book of a time travel series now, where the characters try to determine just how time travel works. See my page for title and details. The first is out, the second hopefully by spring. But to me, all fiction and some good non-fiction is as good as time travel in that the writing can take me to the scenes in the story. If you like books about the Battle of Gettysburg, and want to feel like you're there, Professor Allan Guelzo has written a book that is more a story than a history. Gettysburg-The Last Invasion is the title. Great read.


message 3: by Howard (last edited Jan 20, 2015 03:14PM) (new)

Howard Loring (howardloringgoodreadscom) | 1174 comments Some comments on this subject found on this older thread:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

My answer found in #4.


message 4: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 225 comments It also has all the pleasures of the true alien, or the true space travel. Travel in a time machine to ancient rome and you are in a world as alien as Mars, only there are no UV and gravitational issues.


message 5: by Ubiquitous (new)

Ubiquitous Bubba (ubiquitousbubba) | 13 comments I have a follow up question related to this topic. I've read the older thread that Howard mentioned. Time travel stories often stretch our minds. Many stories challenge our perception of time and causality, twisting our brains in alien and unfamiliar ways. Here's my question. For those who enjoy time travel stories, how much brain twisting confusion is "good" and how much is too much? Do you enjoy stories that leave you with unanswered questions? Do you prefer stories that wrap up the open issues and close each loop? Do you enjoy stories you have to read more than once, or do you prefer a more straightforward approach? I know there are not many definitive answers for these questions, but I'm interested in knowing your thoughts. I know what I prefer, but I'd love to know what you think.


message 6: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Glasser | 208 comments By reading about this stuff, we are able to experience something we could never truly experience in our lives. Especially in first person narratives, we are able to feel like we're time traveling too.

I love time travel because it is a way to experience history with a modern character's perspective, mixing old and new.


message 7: by W. (last edited Jan 21, 2015 11:27AM) (new)

W. Lawrence | 106 comments Time travel is freedom from a bond that none of us (at least none that we know) have been able to achieve. It is building fire for the first time, its becoming the Montgolfier brothers, it is Neil Armstrong on the moon, it is breaking a tether that we acknowledge on some level cannot be broken.

Beyond that, all human beings live with some level of regret, and what is regret other than a longing to change the past? Time travel indulges that thought we've all had hundreds or even thousands of times, "If I only..."


message 8: by Nathan, First Tiger (new)

Nathan Coops (icoops) | 544 comments Mod
I love that time travel opens unlimited doors. In the same way that Star Trek has mass appeal because it is an exploration of the unlimited unknown (Seeking out new life and new civilizations), Time travel opens up a Pandora's box of possibilities. The opportunities are as diverse as the author's imagination. It will always be a fascinating genre because anything that ever was or ever will be can be experienced.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

W. wrote: "Time travel is freedom from a bond that none of us (at least none that we know) have been able to achieve. It is building fire for the first time, its becoming the Montgolfier brothers, it is Neil ..."

Agreed, and beautifully written.


message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 21, 2015 02:53PM) (new)

Ubiquitous wrote: "I have a follow up question related to this topic. I've read the older thread that Howard mentioned. Time travel stories often stretch our minds. Many stories challenge our perception of time and c..."

This is the Goldilock's question....

I like to be twisted but not broken. Bind the central issue, yet leave some trailing ends to keep my imagination tantalized. I want to finish the narrative and say: "Awesome," then, an hour later, think back on it and wonder, "What if?"


message 11: by Ron (new)

Ron McGaw | 13 comments Why do we love time travel stories? Here's the "crazy" little secret. Somewhere deep inside us (go ahead, admit it to yourself), we can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, it could all really happen. No, of course it can't (can it?) Maybe someday? Maybe it's already happened, and we just don't realize it. We know it's fiction, but a part of us is willing to believe, and that willingness make the concept fascinating to us.


message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul (paullev) | 774 comments For me the key, as was mentioned above, is that time travel is on the one hand likely impossible, but at the same time seems so ever plausible. If you think about a space travel, in contrast, it's just an extension (marvelous, but just an extension) of air travel, which is in turn an extension of travel on land and sea. Traveling across distances is something we as a species have always done. But time travel - whether interactively to the past (in contrast to reading something that someone wrote a few centuries ago) or to the future (other than just living as time passes) - is something which, as far as we know, no human being has done, even though it seems to be something we should be able to do. More about this in this little video clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJP-Y...

As to Ubiquitous's opening question - I prefer stories that almost break my mind - stretch it to the point of almost inability to comprehend - and then I claw my way back to some kind of comprehension.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Paul wrote: "For me the key, as was mentioned above, is that time travel is on the one hand likely impossible, but at the same time seems so ever plausible. If you think about a space travel, in contrast, it's..."

Thanks for the video link; it's an interesting segment.


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul (paullev) | 774 comments Any time!


message 15: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 870 comments Ubiquitous: I like working my brain, but not to the point of pain. And I don't like loose ends that are left that way because the author couldn't figure things out. I prefer the kinds of ambiguity that Philip K. Dick was a master of, the provocative questions that he leaves us with. A reread should not be necessary, but if an author leaves me *wanting* to reread, that's good.


message 16: by Lincoln, Temporal Jester (new)

Lincoln | 1290 comments Mod
I think this thread is fascinating and I think the questions have been answered thoroughly and beautifully.

So I will just say Amen to all the comments related to the first question...and take a swing at the second.

There is great satisfaction reaching a conclusion that wraps itself up nice and neat...There is also great literature that does the opposite and simply open our minds to untold possibilities. Sometimes it is just as fun to discuss the unanswered questions than it is to have them answered for us.

I think the best books are the one's that allow for both or in the case of leaving it wide open allowing the reader to reach the greatest conclusion on their own.


message 17: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Lincoln wrote: "I think the best books are the one's that allow for both or in the case of leaving it wide open allowing the reader to reach the greatest conclusion on their own. "

I think the greatest novels are the ones that have their own point to make, but leave the reader feeling like he reached the important conclusions on his own.


message 18: by Lincoln, Temporal Jester (new)

Lincoln | 1290 comments Mod
Well put James.


message 19: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 870 comments James wrote: "...I think the greatest novels are the ones that have their own point to make, but leave the reader feeling like he reached the important conclusions on his own.
"


Yes!


message 20: by Mary (new)

Mary Enck (maryenck) | 34 comments Kenneth wrote: "The time-travel story is near and dear to my heart. I enjoy reading it; I love writing it, but I cannot quite understand what it is that makes the genre so appealing. Surely, the “science” fictio..."

Well Einstein believed in it and so do I. The possibilities for tomorrow are endless. You just have to believe it to see it. :)


message 21: by Mary (new)

Mary Enck (maryenck) | 34 comments Cheryl wrote: "James wrote: "...I think the greatest novels are the ones that have their own point to make, but leave the reader feeling like he reached the important conclusions on his own.
"

Yes!"


That is so in line with what I hope to achieve in my writing. I have yet to read a novel where I didn't see the story in my mind and often it is as if I have gone off on a tangent of my own. I love getting to that level which is in itself a kind of time travel. How great to be able to make your reader feel like they are part of your story.


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary Enck (maryenck) | 34 comments There's yet another aspect to this concept of time travel. The possibility of a parallel Universe out there simultaneously advancing at perhaps a different rate than the one we live in. Some of the time there could be in the past or even in the future. If we are able to penetrate that veil and enter the alternate existence, how fascinating. Is it not so?


message 23: by Mary (new)

Mary Enck (maryenck) | 34 comments Here's another thought I have often about time travel and the idea that one should not attempt to change the event of the past. I think it would be more interesting if we did. One just needs to stay away from their grandfather or even other relatives as a precaution to avoid the likely event of an effect on our own existence.

To me there are so many possibilities that my mind runs away from me with them. Forgive me if I carry on so about this genre. I love it.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Mary wrote: "Kenneth wrote: "The time-travel story is near and dear to my heart. I enjoy reading it; I love writing it, but I cannot quite understand what it is that makes the genre so appealing. Surely, the ..."

I think Hawking has gone on record as saying that it is possible; although, he may have also said that anyone attempting it would be crushed by the gravity of a black hole. Still….

I was just thinking about the changing the past idea, and if I do another time-travel story, I am going to make it a law of Time that if a person goes into their past and changes an event, they will then be unable to return to their original time. It might be interesting to have manipulation of the past create new time lines - I know this has been done, but as a writer it would be interesting to work with the idea. I also like the internal conflict that such a dilemma would force on a character.


message 25: by Mary (new)

Mary Enck (maryenck) | 34 comments Kenneth wrote: "Mary wrote: "Kenneth wrote: "The time-travel story is near and dear to my heart. I enjoy reading it; I love writing it, but I cannot quite understand what it is that makes the genre so appealing. ..."

I quite like that concept Kenneth. To realize the penalty. or I would like to think of it as a gift, to be made to stay in the past should I do anything that would have an affect on tomorrow is a great idea.


message 26: by Mary (new)

Mary Enck (maryenck) | 34 comments My favorite time travel novel is titled Time and Again by Jack Finney. Published in 1970. The setting is New York Central Park where a project rents an apartment at the famous Dakota apartment building, which did not actually exist in 1882. (It was completed two years later, but Finney explains that he took a few liberties with the timeline due to his fascination with the building.) Simon (main character) uses the apartment as both a staging area and a means to help him with self-hypnosis, since the building's style is so much of the period in which it was built and faces a section of Central Park which, when viewed from the apartment's window, is unchanged from 1882.

My favorite scene is where the main character hears the laughter of a woman and the sound of a horse drawn carriage passing, walks out to look at the night sees the Museum of Natural History in the distance and which could never be seen from that vantage point in the future because of the surrounding buildings erected since then. The realization that he is in the past is chilling to me.

It's a great novel and I think it is what inspired me to write in that genre.


message 27: by Jan (new)

Jan Greene (jankg) | 25 comments I love Time and Again too. It is a time travel book that seems to have appeal for all readers. It is a great story. When i started writing my first novel, I had no intention of using time travel, but as the story progressed, I found that I was bending time. Not exactly the same, but interesting to do as a writer (and hopefully for the reader too!)


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