Sunday afternoon at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 seemed like a great time to attend a panel on time travel, while wishing I had a time machine that would instantly transport me back to Arizona, versus the long drive I have ahead of me this evening.
Little did I know that this would be a hardcore science-fiction discussion with some serious authors and speculative science experts, Larry Niven, Greg Bear and David Brin — moderated by Dr. Travis Langley. It didn’t take long before I felt like Ant-Man in Avengers: Endgame… “You man Back to the Future is bullish!t?”
The consensus was that H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine is probably the first and most influential time-travel story, although I’m not sure these panels agreed on much of anything. Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was also mentioned as an early time-travel story.
The panel determined the appeal of time-travel lies in its potential for “make it didn’t happen” wish fulfillment. And it was noted that the problem with time travel isn’t going into the future (we’re all doing that right now), the hard part is going backwards in time.
There was discussion of time being like a freeway and that if we are ever going to succeed in traveling on it, someone besides us will have to build the on-ramps and off-ramps.
The authors also mentioned the importance of never leaving a “footprint,” should you succeed in your time-traveling endeavors.
David Brin discussed the pitfalls of trying to write a serious time-travel story, because he struggles with the science of the subject. He also suggested that serious sci-fi fans check out the Author C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at TASAT.ucsd.edu
“TASAT (There’s A Story About That): The What-If Scenarios Database. Applying Science Fiction to Solve Real World Problems.”
The biggest takeaway from the panel was that despite its wonderful appeal, time-travel will likely never happen and we shouldn’t waste our lives wishing for it.
I guess that means I will have to make that long drive home afterall. So long, San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
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