Friday, May 11, 2012

Here's What I Don't Get About Time Travel

I really like scifi time travel stuff.  Right now am I watching The Time Traveler's Wife and I've been listening to Voyager by Diana Gabladon on my iPhone.  Also you know my love of Dr. Who.  All three of these have time travel at the center of their plots.  Let me pause here to say, if you haven't experienced the wonder of any of these you need to get on it and check it out!

So here's what I don't get.  In these stories the characters frequently see themselves or see something they have written/left evidence of from the past in their present.  There are theories about parallel times and that is what these stories generally give as the cause.  Here's the thing:  parallel means things running along together.  I've never heard this described as anything besides lines.  Parallel lines like on the highway.  Let's work through this together and you figure out the what I'm not seeing.

Let's talk about Claire.  She, by happenstance, is the female character in both The Time Traveler's Wife and the Outlander series.  This is kind of a combo between the two story lines to show what I mean without having to give a lot of back-story.  Claire is born in the mid 1900s.  Let's say that an older version of herself visits her.  Now young her will see that she lives to a certain age and knows a few things about herself, but she also knows that she will travel back to this time to see young her when she is old her.  So how is this parallel?  It seems to be intercepting circles or maybe an infinity sign.  It will never be that old her returns to this spot and young her isn't there.  She is living in this loop over and over and over again.  Not that she is cognizant of this.

I just don't get that.  That isn't parallel.  That's horrible!  It would be like that movie Groundhog Day where you just keep going back and reliving.  So yeah, I don't get it and no movie or book has ever explained this loop issue.  Tell me how this works.  It's a very chicken and egg like paradox. 

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