Time travel has long been a popular sub-genre of science fiction in books as well as on the big screen. H. G. Wells spearheaded the movement (and arguably the genre itself) with his classic novella The Time Machine. In this story, the Time Traveler ventures eons into the future and is surprised and disturbed by the disparity between the upper and lower classes, which now form two separate species.
Audrey Niffenegger’s novel The Time Traveler’s Wife is about a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel, and his wife, who is forced to cope with his unpredictable absences. Replay by Ken Grimwood tells the story of a 43-year-old man who dies and awakens in his 18-year-old body. Some say this novel was a precursor for the comedic time-loop film, and one of my personal favourites, Groundhog Day.
Many other films have aimed to capture the thrill of time travel. Michael J. Fox won our hearts as he drove the DeLorean from 1985 to 1955 in Back to the Future. Woody Allen brought our favourite writers of the 1920’s to life in Midnight in Paris. Arnold Schwarzenegger even used time travel to go back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor in The Terminator!
Current research on time travel argues it is possible to bend time if we can travel faster than the speed of light. Stephen Hawking outlines this theory, along with others, in his famous essay How to Build a Time Machine. Hawking does an excellent job of breaking down cosmology and fourth dimensions into layman’s terms: “All you need is a wormhole, the Large Hadron Collider or a rocket that goes really, really fast.”
Yes, the grass is always greener, but travelling back to fix a mistake, or fast forwarding to a cool, futuristic city seems pretty tempting. Sadly for us, the ability to time travel isn’t readily available yet, so reading about it in our favourite books will have to do for now. But, if we stop and think, we might find we do time travel in our own small ways. Every time we recycle a fashion trend from the 90s, listen to vinyl, or pore over pictures on our iPhones. Every time we read about the past and dream about the future. We don’t need the DeLorean to time travel – just our imaginations.
*Check out our “Great Scott!” display on the main floor at Millennium Library for more materials on time travel, outer space, and science fiction.