Eric’s Writing Blog

The writing blog of Eric Rosenfield

Posts Tagged ‘time travel

Toward a Time Travel Taxonomy

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There are several different ways time travel is used in fiction. For example, time travel to the future is often used to make a political commentary on the present via comparison, ala The Time Machine and many other works. This can also be accomplished through stories of the future without any time travel at all, eg. 1984, but time travel allows an easy way to make a explicit contrast between two periods.

Time travel stories also travel to the past can also be used to comment on the present (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), and/or travel to the past to comment on our own misguided ideas of the past (also A Connecticut Yankee, as well as a number of the Time Patrol stories by Poul Anderson). One could also time travel to the past to reexamine it through the lens of present ideas.

Just as often, of course, time travel to the past or future is simply used to provide an exciting milieu for an adventure story (the “exotic location” being a standard trope in that genre), though even then the author’s representation of the past or future can speak of that author or period’s specific hopes and fears (the anxiety over the “other” in Armageddon 2419AD).

Which is all to say that the point of time travel, as a trope, is to deliberately juxtapose and contrast two different time periods, and there can be many different reasons for doing this. Also similar effects can be created by travel between worlds, dimensions, even realist narratives of travel to foreign countries.

Written by ericrosenfield

April 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm

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