The Truths of Time Travel
January 3, 2012 5 Comments
I was thinking about my childhood fascination with the Doctor Who theme song the other night because, well, you’d think about it too if that was one of your childhood highlights, and also because I’ve finally been getting to the new Doctor Who. New. As in 2005.
Episode 8 of season 1 was called “Father’s Day” and dealt with the Doctor’s companion, Rose, fracking up Time with a Big T by saving her dad’s life, in 1987. Having gone through it myself, I’m not sure that being forced to live out 1987 would be a favor to anyone, but she seemed to think it was. 1987 was admittedly the year that “The Simpsons” started appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show, but the Simpsons were awesome because they were so different than everything else.
OK, so Rose’s intervention in Time causes a big screw-up, as the manipulation of Time for personal profit always does in science fiction stories. Why doesn’t she know this? Has Rose never paid attention to the lessons of science fiction? It’s one of the most moral genres out there, constantly interrogating the questions of good and evil.
As Ray Bradbury wrote, in the introduction to The Circus of Dr. Lao:
Science-fiction is the law-abiding citizen of imaginative literature, obeying the rules, be they physical, social, or psychological, keeping regular hours, eating punctual meals; predictable, certain, sure.
It was Bradbury’s short story “A Sound of Thunder” which introduced me to that cardinal rule of non-interference with the past. There’s some terrific science fiction out there like the new (old) Doctor Who and the writings of Bradbury, that work like intricate clockwork, telling stories which operate like puzzles, attempting to make sense out of the world. I may not understand the abstracts of science, but I can try to grasp the lessons that they teach.
I’m looking for more new works like this, so let me know if you’re aware of any good ones where you don’t have to be a SciFi aficionado. My knowledge of SciFi has always been behind the times, even when I was a child. Although apparently science fiction is for adults, too. There’s a science fiction themed brothel opening in Nevada, to be run by Dennis Hof of Cathouse fame. Alien probes, oh my…