No, I don’t write time-travel novels. Although there is a small aspect of time distortion in Ether, it’s a minor plot device and not important at all really.
And I don’t care for time travel shows, or novels where time travel is THE crux of the novel. If it’s a vehicle the characters are using to tell the story, that’s fine.
And I don’t believe time travel can take place, or will take place in the future.
But that doesn’t stop me from thinking it’s cool, and completely misunderstood, misused and misrepresented by Hollywood. I’m not an expert, no one is. Physicists have a handle on some theories that will make you dizzy, and even they don’t agree on things.
“So what’s your point?” you ask. Well, I’m just a fan, and I like to ponder. Did you read my explanation re: alternate universe theory months ago on the old blog? No? Sheesh, well go check it out, I’ll wait.
So once I realized just HOW Fred could go back in time then return to a completely altered reality, while Barney and Wilma see nothing wrong with the way things are, I started asking myself how it is they — Barney and Wilma — not only recognize a life where Betty never existed, but also believe Fred should know this as well.
I mean, okay, Betty was never born. Barney and Wilma have no idea who she is. Fred came back to an alternate version of his world instead of the one he left. HE remembers Betty. But looking at this from Barney and Wilma’s point of view, they know for a fact that Fred has never known a woman named Betty.
Let’s add another twist to help illustrate our point: In Fred’s new reality, the one without Betty, he leaves the basement where the time machine is and walks Barney to his car. Only now instead of a Plymouth out in the driveway, Fred sees a Mustang. Well crap, Barney doesn’t own a Mustang, not in the reality Fred knew. But in this reality, he does. In fact, Barney remembers Fred helping him buy it. He’s loaned it to Fred on many occasions. It was Fred who talked him in to getting the red one with the CD player.
Only it wasn’t Fred. This Fred knew a woman named Betty, who married Barney, and it was her father-in-law who sold him the Plymouth.
So how is that possible? How can Fred seemingly live two completely different lives, and now find himself ripped from one and dropped into the other?
Obviously there are two Freds. One who lived this life, and one who lived the other. But in order for that to happen – in order for each reality to accept the new Fred they’ve had return in that time machine – those two Freds have to have lived mirrored lives the entire time. Mirrored enough so that they both stepped into a time machine at the same moment, and they both have to have come back to different realities. At first, I was fine when I realized that our first Fred – we’ll call him Fred #1 – had left one Barney, Wilma and Betty, then returned to a world where Betty never lived and neither Barney nor Wilma had ever heard of her. That would leave Fred #1’s world without a Fred. Barney, Betty and Wilma are still waiting for Fred #1 to come back, and he never does.
But that doesn’t go far enough. That doesn’t explain how Barney and Wilma in the new world have known a different Fred all this time. How is it they know a Fred who has never met Betty? A Fred who helped Barney pick out a red Mustang. Where is THAT Fred?
There are only two possibilities: Fred #2 stepped out of his time machine in Fred #1’s world, and he’s now staring at Betty – a woman he’s never met. Or perhaps Fred #2 ended up in a completely different world, where Barney and Wilma are married, and Betty and he are engaged.
If we go with plausibility #2, then we have a third Fred to wonder about, and if HE didn’t step out of that transporter in Fred #1’s world, then our Freds are becoming infinite.
Making you dizzy? Now, ask yourself, is it possible for Fred #1 to step back into that time machine, fix what he did, and return to his world? A world where Barney, Wilma AND Betty have been waiting, getting drunk on wine and sick from the Brie?
Could he go back and NOT step on the butterfly? Could he return to a time just before he was there and avoid killing the insect, thus prevent Betty’s extinction and return his world to normal?
And here’s why – he’s done it. His currently reality is such that he went back in time, stepped on a bug, and Betty was never born. If he were to go back again, and prevent that from happening, he could return to a world where Betty lives – but it’s not the world he left. It’s not exactly the same, even if Barney and Betty and his wife Wilma are standing there with the wine and the cheese and cracker crumbs strewn about the floor. Something is different. Something has changed, probably many somethings.
But now there’s another world. One that Fred created when he stomped the bug – his world – and one wherein the bug was avoided and dino poo was tromped instead. They’re not the same worlds, even if they seem to Fred not to have changed. Maybe there’s a new President. Maybe the country is Communist now. Maybe we have free health care for all.
Something has been changed. Maybe Fred can go through his life and not notice the changes, but they’re there.
A thing once done, cannot be undone. Traveling through time to change it simply creates a new reality wherein it did not occur, but the reality where it did is still there, still experiencing the effects of it. Fred could go back in time every other Wednesday and twice on Sundays, trying to put everything back the way it was, but all he’s doing is creating new, splintered realities each time he tries.
So, the question to ponder next is – if there are now multiple realities, each with a different Fred living a different life with different versions of Barney, Wilma and Betty – what would happen if Fred could trade realties at will? 😀