Time Travel in Science Fiction: A Brief History | James Gleick

  • 6 years ago
The idea of time travel, so familiar to us now, was unheard-of before H.G. Wells's 1895 book The Time Machine. Since then, notions of time travel have blossomed in fascinating ways. James Gleick is the author of Time Travel: A History (goo.gl/pGaWug).

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Transcript - If there was one startling fact that got me going on this book it was realizing that time travel is a new idea. We're so familiar with it. We grow up with time travel. We have time travel in cartoons. We know all of the jokes. We know the paradoxes. It's like part of the fabric of our culture. And it was really a surprise to me to discover that before H.G. Wells there was almost no conception of time travel. Nobody put the two words together. Time Machine, his 1895 book is really the first time people thought there could be such a thing as a time machine and that just struck me as weird.
Because your first impulse is you want to argue with that. Probably. I mean a lot of people well that can't possibly be true, what about this? What about this Greek legend? What about stories told by the ancient Japanese? And there are things where, for example, a fisherman falls asleep and wakes up many generations later and everybody he knows is dead. And that's like the Rip van Winkle story. And Rip van Winkle was before H.G. Wells, of course.

They're not that much more before. And because we have such an expansive sense of time travel ourselves and we're imaginative people we can immediately see that for, example, when the Greeks imagined going down to the land of the dead, going to Hades and crossing the river Styx and meeting their dead ancestors that's a kind of time travel we might say.
Anyway, if you're a sci-fi geek you might be thinking of racking your brain trying to think of predecessors. And there are things, there are sort of weird things that if you're a geek you can find. But it's the truth that before the late Victorian era it was practically impossible for people to conceive of time travel. And I say it was impossible because they didn't. Read Full Transcript Here: https://goo.gl/3CzJhN.