Monday, 18 April 2016
Time Travel And The Future
The Time Machine by HG Wells is, in JB Priestley's phrase, a "little masterpiece" because it was repeatedly rewritten and went through many changes. Published have been "The Chronic Argonauts," two versions of The Time Machine and passages cut from the text. I have read that other passages exist in manuscript and that two versions are known of only through the reminiscence of a friend in whom Wells confided. In one such intermediate version, Wells dispensed with the Time Traveler and merely described a future society. This highlights two ways to present a fictional future. A character can either visit the future or be born in it.
In Poul Anderson's works, Dominic Flandry is born in the Terran Empire whereas Malcolm Lockridge merely visits the period of the Wardens and Rangers. Consequently, Lockridge is culture shocked whereas Flandry is not. This point impacts on several other speculative works by Anderson. A twentieth century man who feels useless if he is not able to earn his living would probably be unhappy if he were transported into a utopian society where wealth is abundant so that "work" in our sense of that word has become redundant whereas someone who had been born into such a society would have been brought up to engage in many meaningful and fulfilling activities. Wealth entails opportunities to play, learn, travel, interact etc.
Tempora mutantur nos et mutamur in illis. (Times change and we change with them.)