Thursday, January 24, 2019
What's the Worst That Could Happen? (Time Travel Edition)
Back in November, I posted about the sci-fi movie and trope of suspended animation, and all the myriad things that have gone wrong in its usage in pop culture imaginings. In the second edition of "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" I look at another common genre convention: time travel.
So, time travel gets invented -- the genie is out of the bottle -- and what's the worst that could happen? Modern pop culture has more than a few answers for us.
10. You, an enlightened and compassionate person of a Utopian future age, travels to the past, and by saving a woman in a traffic accident from dying, end up altering history so that Nazis win World War II. (Star Trek: "City on the Edge of Forever.") No good deed goes unpunished, right?
09. You time travel back to Scotland in 1334 A.D, contract the Black Plague, and are promptly captured by the locals, only to be burned at the stake for being witches and heretics. (Space:1999 "Journey to Where.")
08. You travel back in time to the 1950's and accidentally prevent your parents from falling in love, thereby erasing yourself from existence. And by the way, your teenage Mom has a crush on you. (Back to the Future).
07. You create time travel, and travel to the future, only to learn that it is your invention of time travel that raises global tensions to crisis level, and precipitates a nuclear war that destroys human civilization. (Logan's Run: "Man out of Time.")
06. Again, you create time travel,but this time it plunges the world into chaos since the future is forever changing, and therefore hopeless. You must go back in time and kill the people who helped you create time travel in the first place. (The X-Files: "Synchrony.")
05. You time ravel back to 1941 aboard your nuclear air-craft carrier, but before you can defend Pearl Harbor from Japanese attack, the same vortex that transported you through time re-appears. Do you go home, or change history and save a lot of American lives? (The Final Countdown).
04. You and your companion travel back through time and end up on the Titanic. You endure a number of time-hops to other, equally dangerous eras. Your last time hop, however, is back to the Titanic, meaning you are caught, essentially, in an endless time-loop. (The Time Tunnel).
03. You visit an alien planet the day after a terrible accident has wipe out all life there, only to be hurled back in time twenty-four hours before the disaster. Now you must live through the last 24 hours of the planet. You will either have to save it, or die with the planet at the end of the day. (Star Trek: Voyager: "Time and Again.")
02. The day of your marriage, you go out riding and are accosted by a strange woman on horseback yelling at you as she chases you on a mountainside. You escape and go ahead and marry. Twenty years later, you are an alcoholic, bitter person living a miserable life with your good-for-nothing spouse. You go out for a ride, and encounter your younger self. You attempt to chase her down, but you never catch her, and she never gets the warning. In twenty years, she'll be...you. (The Twilight Zone: "Spur of the Moment.")
01. Using an American spaceship, three intelligent apes from an apocalyptic future time travel to Earth in the early 1970's. One of the apes is pregnant. In twenty years, her grown up simian child leads a revolution of our normal apes, and human civilization falls. Thanks, astronauts! (Escape from the Planet of the Apes).