Sunday, 20 November 2016

Time Travel

I read a Classics Illustrated comic strip adaptation of The Time Machine sometime between 1956 and 1960 and have been fascinated by time travel ever since. I remember thinking that, if a time traveler from 1960 spent half an hour in 2060, then "meanwhile" his acquaintances in 1960 would be awaiting his return. It has taken a lifetime to think through the implications of time travel.

Fortunately, HG Wells has illustrious successors. Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series and SM Stirling's Nantucket Trilogy are very dissimilar treatments but have intriguing parallels as the authors dramatize the consequences of their premises, a police force to prevent temporal changes and an island moved back in time. It is extremely effective when the title of a volume echoes a single phrase in its text. See On The Oceans Of Eternity, Chapter Eight, p. 134.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I actually read some of those ILLUSTRATED CLASSICS comic books myself. Including the one on Wells THE TIME MACHINE. And the point I would stress is that if technology advances so far that time time traveling a la the Time Patrol becomes possible, then a time traveler's friends don't even have to know he was "gone." That is, like the time cycles in Anderson's stories, the traveler could time his return to a second or two after leaving.

    I reread page 134 of my paperback copy of ON THE OCEANS OF ETERNITY, and did you have King Kastiliash's reflections about how his suppleness of mind enabled him to grasp how the "Nantukhtar" had been cast backwards into time? That reminded me of the example of Pummairam in Anderson's "Of Ivory, Apes, And Peacocks."