January 30, 2004

Curious George: Timetravel info suggestions needed.

I'm beginning work on a new play and one of the characters is obsessed with time travel... *I* am not, however, and so only have a glancing acquaintance with the usual, mainstream stuff. Suggestions of books, articles, websites, music, movies, etc. to look into, please, monkeys?

  • Damn. I used to be obsessed with it. Now I remember nothing. Gah! I can't believe I did an entire course on The Metaphysics of Space and Time in my last year at University, and nothing remains in my head. I'll try to dig out my old notes/reading lists when I get home though - might be of some help... I'll look through all my collection of 1960's sci-fi books too... I think an obsessive time-travel purist would be very scathing about Donnie Darko, which thinks it's about time travel but is actually almost entirely about alternate universes. Which ain't the same thing. (wonderful film, though, obviously) Not terribly helpful so far - sorry. Perhaps with a bit of memory jogging I'll be more useful...
  • Classical time travel theory, imo, begins and ends with HG Wells. Everything after is simply the work of upstart neophytes. (although Crichton's Timeline [the book, not that simpleton's feast of a movie] is not entirely bad)
  • I've read this book, which has a good section on time travel in science as well as a very good review of time travel stories in science fiction (check out Heinlein's all you zombies for particular "hilariousness"). In addition, I plan to construct a time machine soon after your play has opened, steal all your best ideas and travel back in time to last Thursday to sell same to your most bitter rival. You have been warned!
  • A couple of decent metafilter threads on the topic (1, 2) Books: As Fes said - HG Wells is the father of the genre. Michael Moorcock's Behold The Man is a masterpiece. The ultimate time travel story is possibly Robert Heinlein's All You Zombies. Films and TV: Terminator 1. Twelve Monkeys. A hundred different Star Trek episodes (especially the final ever next generation episode, and an early next generation episode called The Mobius). Doctor Who. Futurama's Roswell that ends well episode, and the Why of Fry episode. There's loads more, but I can't think now - more later, maybe. Just don't bother with John Titor's story (Metafilter, MonkeyFilter) ,except for a laugh...
  • See how I travelled back in time right there, to poach dng's 'all you zombies' reference? :)
  • I reckon you did, too, quidnunc kid. When I started writing the comment, neither your nor fes's comments where there - only appearing on preview. Bloody time travellers...
  • certainsome1, follow tqk's recommendations, he know's what he's talking about. HG Wells is fine for starters but he is the actual neophyte on the time travel subject. Besides, Fes, I write myself short stories about time travel. Although I accept I'm a neophyte, I still regard your comment as an insult.
  • I'm not asking for an apology. Though.
  • This book might be useful, I dunno. Terminator 1 is, post-lawsuit, agreed to be based on several of Harlan Ellison's short stories, notably "Soldier". Ellison done good time travel stories. Non-standard riffs on time travel that spring to mind in a purely random fashion include Greg Bear's Eon, Time after Time (HG Wells chases Jack the Ripper into the 20th Century!), and a cracking little story of Nick Hornby's in McSweeney's Thrilling Tales about a VCR that can fast-forward into the future. And obviously, Time Bandits. Which has midgets.
  • You can't mention "All You Zombies" without mentioning "By His Bootstraps" as well; they're the great Heinleinian bookends of the enormous time-travel shelf. I won't link to a website because they all contain spoilers, and I beg you not to look at any of them -- just find a copy of the story and read it. You won't regret it. I myself am a time traveler from the year 1951, and let me tell you, you people have royally screwed things up. I'm going back as soon as I can remember where I left the time machine.
  • Travelling forward in time ain't really time travelling - its just sleeping...
  • I've heard/read/seen some of these (although up until now I thought "All You Zombies" was just a Hooters song... I'm assuming it's slightly different.) but can't wait to get started on the others. I see a budget-busting trip to B&N in my near future. Thanks for all the great recommendations, monkeys! And keep 'em comin'. Oh, and the quidnunc kid? Even if you steal my script, I'm pretty sure my agent has the ability to travel in time to hunt you down. If there's money to be had, of course.
  • From Stephen King's "Skeleton Crew - Short Stories": The Jaunt, which is about the development of teleportation on a mass scale 350 years in the future....The concepts are somewhat related, no?
  • Another thing to look at is computer games, if they're of any relevance - the two Zelda games (Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask) on the Nintendo64 (or Gamecube) contain some great time travelling puzzles and stories.
  • Another thing to look at is computer games, if they're of any relevance - the two Zelda games (Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask) on the Nintendo64 (or Gamecube) contain some great time travelling puzzles and stories. Me: sitting in front of the tv, controller in hand: "Damn! I -- no! I shot him! What, honey? Oh, no, I'm not playing. I'm doing research on the new play. Really. Hey! HOW MANY SHOTS DOES IT TAKE TO KILL THIS GUY!?"
  • Rather than contribute anything useful to the thread, a joke my grandfather tells. A timetraveler wants to see what the future will be like. So, he travels 10.000 years into the future, only to find that men no longer have arms or legs. They do everything by telewhatsit and thus have huge heads riding on top of shriveled bodies. He spends time there, gradually becoming like them, until he too is nothing but a head with telewhatsit powers. The other heads warn him that by their calculations the Universe will end in 5.000 years. I have to see that, he tells himself and goes forward in time. He takes his eyes off the wheel for a second and blips ahead 5.001 years, promptly disappearing from existance. Moral of the story: Stop while you're a head.
  • *click buzz, cloud of smoke* Woah! Just travelled into the future (to this point in the thread) to avoid certainsome1's agent and languagehat's mild reprobation. So, do we have flying cars and cheap, plentiful robot wives yet? I merely ask for information.
  • One word quidnunc . . . Plastics.
  • Also check out Heinlein's "A Sound of Thunder" short story, soon to be a major motion picture i could not kid about this, oy.
  • Would that be like Menard's Don Quixote? Or did you mean this?
  • Ah, but Menard's Don Q subtly improves on the original, in a way that 12 Monkeys does not.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter House 5, Sirens of Titan, and Timequake are all good too - not strictly time travel, but about our perception of time, among other things.