Time Travel in Science-Fiction - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Time Travel in Science-Fiction

One of the most fascinating topics in science Fiction is that of time travel. Redefining the boundaries of time in fiction allows us to perhaps fulfill our wish to re-write history, or to look at what it could be like in the future, as well as controlling our destinies. The creators of science fiction, whether in print or on film, need to be highly skilled at grabbing and holding our interest, and persuade us to suspend reality for the duration of their work. Below are just a few examples of some outstanding and highly skilled realizations in print and on the big and small screen, and the extremely varied approaches that have been taken toward time travel across the years.

Jules Verne’s science fiction that became reality
French novelist, Jules Verne dreamed of traveling to the moon, of navigating the depths of the ocean and traveling the world in a matter of weeks. As such his novels From the Earth to the Moon, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in 80 Days captured the imagination of readers in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Perhaps Verne had a time machine of his own as all of his dreams came true – and then some. In Verne’s case, the Field of Dreams' idea, “If you build it, they will come” applies. However, not all science fiction has resulted in reality. Some were like French roulette, reality of winning distant away.

H.G. Wells’ Time Machine: Still a dream
In 1895, H.G. Wells wrote the futuristic novel, The Time Machine, in which people were transported into the future to see what Wells envisioned as Utopia. Though the main thrust of the novel was political, the concept of time travel was born, and has been captivating people ever since. The idea lends itself to some very interesting stories and, going into the past and the future, even though it is not likely to become a reality.
Science Fiction in Movies and on TV: More than high tech action
If technology, special effects, futuristic lawless and violent societies put you off, many science fiction movies and TV shows won’t interest you. However, if you dismiss all science fiction as simply mindless high-tech action, you’ll be missing some real gems. Time travel has become a staple in film (The Time Machine, Somewhere in Time, the Back to the Future Series, and most recently, The Time Traveler’s Wife), Numerous TV sci-fi series have developed cult followings, such as Star Trek, The X-Files, and The Twilight Zone, all of which have used time travel in some form. Some of these movies and shows are mainstream science fiction, however others are more “low-tech” and delve into some interesting questions about human relationships. There are also those flights of fancy designed to purely entertain us like I Dream of Jeannie...

I Dream of Jeannie: A genie comes to TV
In I Dream of Jeannie (1965 – 1970) Jeannie (Barbara Eden), a 2000 year old genie, is awakened in the present to cater to the every whim of her new master (Larry Hagman). Displaced through time herself, by simply folding her arms, nodding her head and blinking she can travel through time and space too. This 1960s sitcom continues to captivate generation after generation in re-runs. There’s something truly magical about time travel!
Early Edition and Quantum Leap: Problem-solving through time travel
Neither Early Edition (1996 – 2000) nor Quantum Leap (1989 – 1993) were ratings hits, yet both shows stayed on the air for several years because they had loyal viewers. These shows focused on two ordinary men who are given the power to correct events – whether in the past or the future.

In Quantum Leap, Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a research scientist, “leaps” into the bodies of other people in order to correct the things that went wrong in their lives. In Early Edition, Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler), an ordinary stock broker, is given the power to avert catastrophic events that are about to occur through a magically delivered newspaper that gives “tomorrow’s headlines today.”

Quantum Leap asks the question of “What if you could go back and do “x” over again?” Early Edition, in contrast, is asking, “What if you had the ability to see the future, what would you do to avert upcoming disasters?” Both shows cleverly romp through history with their heroes setting things right and wishing desperately that they could just be left alone to live their ordinary lives. Obviously time travel is an integral part of both of these imaginative shows – a far cry from the technology-based, space-oriented Star Trek, yet science fiction nonetheless.

Somewhere In Time and Back to the Future: Time travel in film
Arriving in 1960, the first cinematic adaptation of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine used time travel to tell a compelling story. The romantic tearjerker Somewhere in Time also achieved this, as did the ever-popular series of Back to the Future films. In the former, love crosses the boundaries of time. Back to the Future, like Quantum Leap and Early Edition, tries to solve problems by altering the course of history through time travel and the enhanced knowledge that goes with the ability to travel through time, all the while remaining aware of the future and/or the past.

Science Fiction combines several intriguing elements that enable an author or filmmaker to push the limits of reality beyond their normal borders in order to invent stories that provide a fresh look at the human condition, and to answer age-old questions in thoughtful and creative ways. However, within this broad genre there is something quite special about time travel. Across the years it has proven to capture the attention of the audience, and live in the imagination as one ponders the possibilities of a phenomenon which is not even a distant reality.

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