Time machines and travellers


[(c) BBC 2013]

According to Wikipedia, A time machine is a fictional/hypothetical device used to achieve time travel.The term may also refer to: The Time Machine, an 1895 novel by H. G. Wells, which introduced the term.

But other things have existed that might be called Time machines; water clocks, sundials, marked candles, clockwork time pieces, digital ones and things I haven’t heard of that probably already exist. Machines to measure time.

So prevalent is the concept of machines that travel through Time in SF and fantasy now, in Utopian and Dystopian stories alike, that Wells’s original machine for travelling in time seems relatively tame – a time-exercise-bike that could not move in space as more advanced machines are held to do today. This allowed the Time Traveller’s friends to be certain that he had travelled into the future, since if he had travelled into the past they would have been able to observe him doing so before he started on his journey. I still remember how mind-blowing that statement seemed 55 years ago when I first read it and it started an unquenchable thirst for all things timey-wimey.

This is a blog-post, not a literature survey, but as I am meandering through ideas about Time, I wanted to mention this ongoing fascination we have with the (im)possibility of visiting the past and the future. One story that perhaps sums it up in all its convolutions is Gary Kilworth’s ‘Let’s go to Golgotha.’ Here is the plot summary from Wikipedia;

Time-travelling tourists go on a “Crucifixion Tour.” The tour operator warns the tourists that they must not do anything to disrupt history: specifically, when the crowd is asked whether to spare Jesus or Barabbas, the tourists must all join the call “Give us Barabbas!” (a priest absolves them from any guilt for so doing). However, when the moment comes, the protagonist suddenly realizes that the crowd condemning Jesus to the cross is composed entirely of tourists from the future, and that no actual Jerusalemites of 33 AD are present at all.



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