My first experience with science fiction time travel novels was when I read the 1955 Isaac Asimov paperback entitled The End of Eternity. That was long ago. Now I am the author and illustrator of a science fiction time travel adventure series known as Baja Clavius
I was just reaching my teenage years when I read the Asimov novel, but doing so redirected my life. No exaggeration! The most important change that I experienced thanks to reading Asimov was that I stopped believing in both Heaven and Hell. Having been born into the Roman Catholic faith, rejecting the core concepts of eternal reward versus eternal punishment was just not done.
Yet, I did. The simple explanation as to how that one Asimov novel could end my belief in both Heaven and Hell has everything to do with the concept of eternity as explored by Asimov in his 1955 novel. I came to understand eternity as a tangible concept. I found myself doing a mathematical comparison of eternity as measured in years versus a normal lifespan for a human being as measured in years. As a twelve year old boy, it was very easy for me to grasp that eternity was a whole lot of years compared to about 70 or so years for a human’s life expectancy. I could no longer believe in Heaven or Hell because I did not see that any Supreme Being up in the skies could reward any human with an eternity in Heaven after the person only put in about seven decades in mortal life. The same reasoning made me reject Hell because I came to accept that even if a human were to live seven or eight decades doing bad things, that was not sufficient time to earn the bad person an eternity of damnation.
My parents thought I was crazy or heretical. They were correct about my showing evidence of one of at least one of those traits.
Writing about Time
As a writer, I chose to write about time and time travel following some very simple concepts that you don’t need a degree in physics to grasp. The first concept is that all of human life can be measured in terms of timelines–years of life experiences from birth to death.
Everyone has their own timeline. Some have long ones. Others do not.
I added a science fiction elements to the concept of timelines for Baja Clavius. One of the characters I created explains to another character that there are billions of possible timelines on Earth. Some people get involved with other people in a timeline on a simple level such as getting into a relationship with someone that lasts many years. More complicated examples of involvement in other people’s timelines include what happens if you cause an incident that results in mass casualties. All of the people who are killed because of either your actions or inactions are, by definition, involved in a timeline with you.
The core storytelling element of Baja Clavius is that timelines on Earth need to be repaired by direct intervention of time travelers from the future. If the repairs are not made, human civilization will descend into chaos on our planet in a matter of a hundred years or so.
This direct intervention by time travelers can be as simple as going back in time to make certain that a person makes a crucial discovery that in the future saves many people’s lives. Or, the converse is also true: Repairing a timeline can often mean going back in time to prevent someone from taking an action that in the future ends many people’s lives.
I initially chose to write only about backwards time travel. The time-traveling repairmen only can go back in time to the past to change timelines. I explain that both the present and the future exist simultaneously in the “now” as compared to yesterday, which was the time before the “now.” Eventually, I found that I had to write about time travel to the future in some form in Baja Clavius.
My time travel agents go back in time to Earth to work on specific missions in which their job is to make certain that the particular timeline to which they are traveling turns out “the way it is supposed to.” This, of course, presumes that there is a “supposed to” when considering billions of timelines on Earth and what happens in each of them. This also presumes that someone has the mental powers to determine and keep track of what is “supposed to” happen versus what is “not supposed to.” As you already know, many organized religions today give this special mental power only to their deity. In Baja Clavius I give this special mental power to a computerized machine who answers to the name of Eduardo. He is not a deity. He is not even human.
If you have read science fiction time travel adventures or seen stories depicted in movies or on television, you have come into contact with the so-called laws of time travel. One of the most prevalent of these laws of time travel in science fiction is that you cannot change the past no matter how hard you try. Stephen King skillfully explored this law in his 2011 novel 11/22/63 in which a time traveler attempts to prevent the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. If you are someone who enjoys well-written time travel adventures, you really owe it to yourself to read King’s novel. It also is a miniseries that you can watch on Hulu.
In Baja Clavius there is no such law of time travel preventing one from changing the past. In fact, the whole point of having time travel agents go back in time in is for them to change the past. That is what they do for a living.
Also, Baja Clavius is not about the awe and wonder of time machines or technology that enables men to go back in time. Instead, I focus on the very troubling human element of what happens to when someone who changes the past and remembers what he has changed after he returns to his own time. I’ll give you a hint about what happens: If a man travels back in time and remembers the changes that he made to a timeline, when he returns to his own time, he will pay a very high emotional cost. His sanity may be toppled.
There is one other troublesome time travel law that has generously given science fiction writers many barriers to overcome in their storytelling. This law dictates that if you do travel back in time, you cannot meet a younger version of yourself. I sidestep this law entirely in and focus instead on the difficult emotional outcomes time travel agents encounter when they find that they are on a mission to repair a timeline in which they previously have lived.
The science fiction genre is known for its use of allegory. Time travel adventures, in particular, provide ample opportunities to embed messages of a moral or political or religious nature. And yes, Baja Clavius is allegorical.
There you will easily find embedded messages that I have provided for your consideration along with an enjoyably wild ride to timelines of the recent past. I invite you to check this out so you can share in the excitement and fun waiting for you.
1 thought on “Timelines and Time Travel Laws”
I genuinely enjoy reading your posts. You are a wonderful writer and I’m glad I found you online. Many thanks!