So, to continue the theme of Back to the Future technology, I once received an email from a time traveller.
It’s been a long time ago now, and I was dumb enough not to keep it (it might have been this one, but I seem to recall the one I got mentioning a flux capacitor). I didn’t reply to it – well, it’s good email etiquette, and I didn’t wan’t my computer to get virused. Plus I had no idea where to get the spare parts he was asking for and I wouldn’t want to annoy history’s first time traveller, especially as he was stranded and was desperately looking for a whole bunch of technology I’d never heard of. Messing him around would be uncool. Yes, okay, I know it was spam or a hoax, but the writer in me will forever ask “What if it was real?” – I know it wasn’t, but we’re allowed to have an imagination, and besides, if we do ever invent time travel, this situation is going to arise. You won’t be laughing at Fluffybunneez4276 then.
Of course, it’s not like time travel hasn’t been a source for stories for a long, long time. A lot of the time it’s basically just a plot device – much as I love Doctor Who, you can hardly say they do a lot with the concept of time travel, at least not until compartively recently. It’s really just a device to get characters in the right place for the story or, like in HG Wells’s The Time Machine, to present a past or future world that serves as an allegory for contemporary concerns.
Outside of film, TV and literature, my favourite time travel story is that of John Titor. In 2000, Titor started posting on various message boards, claiming to have travelled back from 2036, where everything was going to hell – the US had split into sub-regions and CJD had been a major problem. Oh, and his time machine was built into a car, which is reminiscent of Back to the Future itself (Titor travelled in a Chevy, not a DeLoreon).
Events leading up to Titor’s dystopian future were meant to kick off in 2004, so it looks like it was all a hoax, which is vaguely disappointing, glad as I am that the world hasn’t been devastated by nuclear war. Like I said, these sort of stories are always going to prompt the question What If? After all, there’s nothing saying he isn’t from an alternative future…