Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Is Voyagers messy Time Travel?



I09 wrote a cool, thought provoking post on 'Why Time Travel should be messy.' It lists the 4 basic concepts that books, movies and televisions use for Time Travel. I particularly like 3 and 4, as does the author.

The bottom line is, life is messy, so why should the elements of time travel always be wrapped up in a neat little bow with all the dots connecting together in a perfect little loop? The last few paragraphs had me thinking about Voyagers, and how they must keep history on its proper, neat, course. In the Voyagers' universe, somehow history is inexplicably altered and the entire space-time continuum is thrown out of whack until they intervene and make things right again.

From I09:

In real life, nobody ever needs to ensure his or her own past. Nobody worries that unless they do this or that, they won't have been born. You know why? Because by definition, the past ensures itself. The past is fixed unless someone changes it — and if you're in a universe where the past cannot be changed, that's twice as much reason not to worry about it. The past is fine.

If someone comes up to you and shows you proof that you're destined to travel back in time to the Middle Ages — your face in a tapestry, or whatever — just shrug and get on with your day. If you're actually destined to go back in time, then nothing you could possibly do will prevent that from happening. By the same token, you don't need to take any action to make that happen — it's already happened, right? The notion that you have to try to do something that you're destined to do has always seemed like the cheapest of plot devices — it's either destiny, or it's not.


This  brings up an interesting concept for Voyagers! It's one I've toyed with in numerous fan-fictions. In order for history to go wrong, there's most likely a Voyager/Time Traveler who deliberately messes with the order of things. That would be Voyager Drake. He admitted as much in the final episode, "Jack's Back."

Drake's goal is to create a tangled web for Voyagers Headquarters. At first his goal was for the world to judge him as a hero. Somewhere along the way his outlook changed. By the end, he wants history obliterated. Or at least part of it.



A similar thing happens in Quantum Leap, when Sam meets the Evil leaper. Somehow there's a parallel universe complete with a wicked hologram and Ziggy-like computer that tries to destroy everything Sam has put right.


The dynamic trope goes back to Good vs. Evil and God vs. Satan. But it lends strength to the blogger's argument about how the past is fine UNLESS someone makes a change. Apparently Voyagers are in a universe where the past can be altering just by someone saying, "ehhh, I don't feel like making the lightbulb right now."

Quantum Leap's version was similar. Somewhere, someone dies that wasn't supposed to, and lives are altered in the worst way. It wasn't all the fault of the "Evil Leaper." I believe the show's dynamics changed when they introduced that character.



Just because Voyagers! likes to serve things up in a neat, tidy package and "Travel through time to help history along…" doesn't mean it's not adventurous or exciting!

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