Time plays such a big part in our lives, it’s no wonder we’re fascinated by the idea of escaping it. And what better way to escape it that to travel back into the past or forward into the future? This hour, we explore our obsession with time travel. Why is such a recurring them in movies and TV shows? And what can time travel teach us about ourselves?
The Craft of Science Fiction, featured Joe Haldeman, four-time Nebula Award winner and author of The Forever War, his forthcoming novel The Accidental Time Machine and many other books.
This forum was moderated by CMS Director Henry Jenkins.
The concept of time travel is actually much newer than you might expect.
In his previous books Chaos: Making of a new Science and The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, bestselling author James Gleick became known for lucid and accessible explanations of complex issues. Now he turns his attention a perennial favorite of science fiction in his latest book, Time Travel: A History.
From its beginnings with H. G. Wells to its sprawling influence on literature, philosophy, and physics, time travel continues to fascinate us today. Mr. Gleick sat down with Googler Keith Schaefer in Los Angeles for a wide-ranging discussion of this most modern of ideas.
Get the book: https://goo.gl/khmDWi
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Time travel is time research
Gleick began with H.G. Wells’s 1895 book The Time Machine, which created the idea of time travel.
It soon became a hugely popular genre that shows no sign of abating more than a century later.
“Science fiction is a way of working out ideas,” Gleick said.
Wells thought of himself as a futurist, and like many at the end of the 19th century he was riveted by the idea of progress, so his fictional traveler headed toward the far future.
Other authors soon explored travel to the past and countless paradoxes ranging from squashed butterflies that change later elections to advising one’s younger self.
Gleick invited audience members to query themselves: If you could travel in time, would you go to the future or to the past?
When exactly, and where exactly?
And what is your second choice?
(Try it, reader.)
“We’re still trying to figure out what time is,” Gleick said.
Time travel stories apparently help us.
The inventor of the time machine in Wells’s book explains archly that time is merely a fourth dimension.
Ten years later in 1905 Albert Einstein made that statement real.
In 1941 Jorge Luis Borges wrote the celebrated short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.”
In 1955 physicist Hugh Everett introduced the quantum-based idea of forking universes, which itself has become a staple of science fiction.
“Time,” Richard Feynman once joked, “is what happens when nothing else happens.”
Gleick suggests, “Things change, and time is how we keep track.”
Virginia Woolf wrote, “What more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment?
That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side, the future on another.”
To answer the last question of the evening, about how his views about time changed during the course of writing Time Travel, Gleick said:
I thought I would conclude that the main thing to understand is: Enjoy the present.
Don’t waste your brain cells agonizing about lost opportunities or worrying about what the future will bring.
As I was working on the book I suddenly realized that that’s terrible advice.
A potted plant lives in the now.
The idea of the ‘long now’ embraces the past and the future and asks us to think about the whole stretch of time.
That’s what I think time travel is good for.
That’s what makes us human—the ability to live in the past and live in the future at the same time.
The tale of time travel and the possibilities of setting up a colony in prehistoric America.
By Clifford D. Simak.
Time is special. How we see it helps determine how we see the rest of the Universe. Physicist Lee Smolin has a new book out that says we’ve been looking at time the wrong way. Adam Frank digs in and offers his own perspective on Smolin’s argument.
Audrey Niffenegger discusses her bestselling novel The Time Traveler’s Wife with James Naughtie.
It’s a romantic story about a man - Henry - with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage to Clare.
The book opens when they meet in a Chicago library, and they both understand that he is a time traveller. But Clare knows much more than this about him as he has not yet been to the times and places where they have met before, and she remembers him from when she was just six years old.
He falls in love with her, as she has already with him, but his continuing unavoidable absences time travelling - and then returning with increasing knowledge of their future - makes things ever more difficult for Clare.
Audrey Niffenegger explains how she created a set of rules for the book, such as there would be no sex between the couple before Clare reaches 18; and how Henry’s disorder is genetic rather than magical, meaning that when he time travels he arrives naked and with no money or useful possessions.
She also talks about the morality of her tale - the consequences of Henry’s criminal behaviour, and how she dealt with a male character who effectively moulds the character of Clare as she grows up.
Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House in London, Bookclub with Audrey Niffenegger includes questions from the studio audience.