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 why. And what is your second choice? (Try it, reader.)