Sunday, 23 March 2014
Tom Barlow has projected himself five hundred years into the future, to 2497. He was the first discoverer of "...the superenergy state..." (p. 58), which is well understood by the time of his arrival. One of his welcomers confirms that there is no way for him to return. Barlow accepts that pastward time travel is "'...an obvious absurdity.'" (p. 60) Ability to return to 1997 is not necessary for the story so the complexities and paradoxes of travel to the past can be avoided.
"'All I did was give myself a jolt of energy, a vector along the time axis rather than through space, and so increased my rate of existence several millionfold...'" (ibid.)
What does this mean? All that is necessary for this single short story is a brief scientific rationale for Barlow's temporal displacement. Did he move along time instead of through space? The theory that accounts for time as a fourth spatial dimension stipulates that we do not move but extend in that direction. If physical motion along the temporal dimension is assumed, did he accelerate, move several million times faster than everything else? If so, then he would have left everything else behind.
HG Wells' Time Traveler spoke of accelerating along Time whereas in practice he did the exact opposite. He slowed down his own psycho-physical processes so that his entire environment, the rest of the universe, fast forwarded around him. If Barlow did this, then he should have been visible and tangible as an immobile body for five hundred years but it is clear that this has not occurred:
"'This place was readied special for your coming.'" (p. 59)
So he appeared as if from nowhere on arrival as fictional time travelers usually do.
As I say, this does not really matter for story purposes but it is always interesting to analyze the theoretical basis of sf stories involving time travel/time dilation/temporal stasis etc.