Sunday, October 19, 2014

Time's Up

Next weekend I'll be at Mile Hi Con.  One of  the panels I'm on is about time travel stories.  I've always had an uneasy relationship with time travel stories.  As an author, I've only written two.  As an editor, I've actively discouraged them.  When we were doing Science Fiction Trails  I had to change the writers guidelines to keep them away.  There was a time when all I got was some clod goes back in time to the OK Corral and doesn't really belong there.  It was always the OK Corral and the Earp Brothers.  It might not have been so bad had it occasionally been Little Big Horn or someplace else--yes it would have.  These were always dreadful stories.  

It boils down to this: Time travel is an easy crutch for an unimaginative writer to use to deal with a science fiction story set in a time different than our own.  Rather than write about the folks who actually live there, they always seem to think people from our time are superior or more interesting. So let's write crappy stories about time travel.  And how do we get back in time? Oh, we can crawl through some unexplained hole behind our stove or we can smoke crack [these are actual examples I've gotten]. 

That's not to say all time travel is crap--just most of  it. Even though I have a loathing contempt for most time travel stories, I rather like Dr. Who.    I think the H. G. Wells story was pretty good for its day. It can be done.  Heck, during the Matt Smith era of Dr. Who, there was a bona fide weird western episode set in the town of Mercy that would've fit right in the pages of Science Fiction Trails.  That one involved an alien war  criminal who was trying to escape justice by hiding out in a small western town.

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