The Post Time-Travel Challenge: When to Go?
Created | Updated Oct 24, 2010
Okay, this challenge has definitely set the cat among the pigeons. Writers were invited, incautiously on my part, to get in their tardises and go sightseeing. The only conditions were that you not change anything, and stay out of your own lifetime.
As everyone knows, Bel's always ready to travel, be it to London during a volcano emergency, or down to Frankfurt and back up by bicycle. It's hard to faze our intrepid editor, who really puts the Hitchhiker back in the Galaxy.
Apparently, our well-prepared traveller found time-travel tourism a bit daunting, though...so much to think about...
I have added helpful comments (or not).
Last week, Dmitri invited me to travel in time. Well, he didn't exactly invite me specifically, but all Post Readers, but still. It got me thinking: what is it about time travel that fascinates us so much? If I tried to list all the literature and films about the topic, it would add up to pages and pages, and I'd still not be able to mention them all.
Do you travel a lot? As children, we used to travel 'with the finger on the map' as we say here. Along rivers, over mountains, across oceans – there was no stopping us. We played board games: Europareise (Travels through Europe), and Dampfross (Steam Train1). Then, when I was older, I travelled by train, car, ferry and plane.
I guess I could call myself a seasoned traveller by now. Then last year, I mused about the advantages of transporters, like those in Star Trek. However, all this was travelling in space, while never leaving my timeline. Well, not much. I'm not sure, if I travel to the UK, do I travel in time? After all, they are an hour behind my time. Somebody else will have to solve that puzzle, although I guess that it can't really be considered as time travel.
So, time travel. Hmmm. I've done that a lot recently, the same way I used to space travel as a child: with my finger in a book, reading up about the last century. But real time travel? How would I go about it? That's where Dmitri gets into the equation: he gave me the means in form of pen and paper. Sort of.
So now, I have to actually think about time travelling. At least I won't have to try to save the world. 'Time Travel Tourism' was the catchphrase Dmitri used. And I'm so glad he doesn't want to know about "Donald's 'trousers of time'", because I don't have a clue what they were, or where and when2. So, a tourist sounds good – but what sort of tourist? American-, Japanese-, German-style? Eco-tourist?
And which time do I choose? When to go? If I can decide the period, should I travel to a more attractive place than Frankfurt? I'm assuming that I'll only travel in time, not in time AND space. Just think of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and you'll know what I mean. Do I want to travel back in time, or forth? Dmitri only talked about the past, shall I be cheeky and try the future? Do I want to know what is lying ahead? Maybe I can have both? Go back in time first, then 'miss' my time on my return by about, say, two years? Nobody would be likely to notice.
Oh, and what to take? Will I have to wear some woollen clothes and wooden shoes, so as not to be spotted and burnt as a witch shortly after my arrival in the past? I'd probably best wear some sort of cap, too. Maybe I should make an appointment with my hairdresser before I go, and have my hair died brown? After all, it is reddish, and, depending on when I arrive, that might be dangerous. Because even if "I" know I'm only a tourist, it is unlikely the people in the past will know.
So many things to consider. What do I take? My thyroid medication? It is a 'must', really. Toothbrush? My own spoon? People in the dim dark past used to take their own spoon with them. But where do I get a wooden spoon? Will I have to raid a museum? And what about the language? If it's only some Neanderthal grunting, I guess I could manage that. But what about Old German? Or Middle German for that matter?
Maybe I could learn a language through this song?
Under der linden
an der heide,
dâ unser zweier bette was,
dâ muget ir vinden
gebrochen bluomen unde gras.
Vor dem walde in einem tal,
schône sanc diu nahtegal.
—Walther von der Vogelweide
Under the lime tree
near the heath,
where the two of us had our bed,
there you might find
carefully picked both
flowers and grass.
In front of the forest in a valley,
a nightingale sang beautifully3.
Oh my. I had to look it up! Well, not all of it, just a few words, but still. It's as if I tried to understand Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. I do understand a lot when I read it, but audio is so much more difficult. A babel fish! A kingdom for a babel fish!
What else will I have to face? How best to prepare? I know! I'll take Dmitri. Travelling on my own is probably not very safe anyway, what with there either being a war on, or pestilence and other diseases or both; and since it was Dmitri's idea, it's only right and proper that he should take the journey with me. The advantage is that he knows a lot. He speaks various languages, has lived and worked in places all over the world, which means he has experienced different cultures and knows a lot of places. He'll probably have a good idea about when and where to go, too. Yes, that's the best solution.
North Carolina, here I come...4