One-Way Time Travel

I’m currently revising my novel, Wrinkleto submit to literary agents. The crux of the novel rests on the idea of one-way time travel: You can travel forward in time but not backwards. It’s a one-way ticket to the future.

Would you do it?

If there were a proven way to safely travel to the future in this manner, would you sign up? How deep into the future would you go?

In the book it makes sense–there’s a reason people are motivated to travel forward in time. I’ve wondered quite a bit if I would do it. I’m prematurely in awe of the future. I don’t think we can even start to imagine the advances in technology and science we’ll experience over the next 1,000 years, much less the next 100 or even 25 years.

At the same time, I have serious concerns about the future. Global warming, crime/poverty, biological warfare, the economy…I don’t think things are going to be terrible, but I also think there are too many people in the world for everyone to have a great life.

That said, I think I would do it. I’m just so curious about what the world will be like in the future, especially the deep future. Will we travel to other planets? Will we meet aliens? Will there be jetpacks? Will all Starbursts be pink and red? I must know!

I don’t know if I’d go right away…in fact, I don’t know when it would feel right to leave. There’s too much to leave behind (can cats time travel?). But if I eventually left, I would travel 500 years into the future. 2513. I figure that’s long enough that I would see some truly incredible advances in technology, but not so long that I wouldn’t recognize anything.

What about you?

10 thoughts on “One-Way Time Travel”

  1. It’s down to how tied to the present you are I would say.
    Would I go – only if everyone I loved came with me!

    I would guess that anyone with a (presently) incurable medical condition would be happy to go into the future for the hope of better care or cure.

    You could deposit $1000 in an interest paying bank account and travel to the future where hopefully the interest has beaten inflation and be rich in comparison to others, but then perhaps money wouldn’t mean as much in the future.

    Of course if you end up in a post-apocalyptic world that’s gonna suck.

    • That last one is my hesitation too–I’d rather not fast forward through time only to end up being chased by zombies, even if I get to use a jet pack to outrun them. Think about diseases and environmental concerns too–everyone else has had time to evolve, adapt and possibly become immune to them, but you’d be coming in “fresh” and very susceptible to everything. I think there are just too many unknowns for me to take the risk.

      Plus, it’s a little sad to think that everyone I’ve ever known would be long dead.

  2. Yeah, the risk of the post-apocalyptic scenario might get higher the more advanced we get. Heck, Earth could be completely deserted by the time you arrive. That would make for a rude awakening.

  3. At the rate that humanity is going, it’s entirely possible we’ll see some global crises in our life time. Which isn’t exactly the point of the question. I myself would be terribly curious, but I wouldn’t go. Partially for fear of the above, but more because I’m too tied to the present. Without the ability to come back, I’d have to socially start from zero (I somehow doubt everyone is coming with me). Stranger in a strange land, completely out of touch with the world around me. The curiosities satisfied could not really overcome the disadvantages I’d be putting on myself. Besides, now is pretty cool too. 🙂

    • “Now is pretty cool too.” I like that. 🙂

      I guess I picture it a little bit like studying abroad. You show up on foreign soil not knowing anyone, and there’s a certain freedom in that. And perhaps the people in the new time/country might be just as curious about you as you are of them.

      That said, there is SO much to leave behind here.

  4. I try to practice living in the present as much as possible, so this really doesn’t appeal to me (although my curiosity is peaked, I am more full of questions than desire to actually do it). Per the other comments here, I am not confident that even if people are alive in 500 years, that it would be on this planet. So when you time travel, can you switch locations? I think although it would be faaaascinating, I would not like feeling on the spot. You would be an other, or a celebrity, or that person that everyone asks questions of. I don’t think I would like the attention and the idea of representing an entire era/generation.

    • Emma–In my book, when you time travel, you don’t change locations, only time.

      What if you weren’t the only one time-traveling to the time you chose? That would make you less of a novelty when you arrived?

      But I like the idea of living in the present as well. 🙂

  5. I wouldn’t actually go through with time travel to the future – but I would be curious about what the world would be like. One item in particular that I’d be interested in would be the condition of the Hawaiian Islands. (Ah, Hawaii sounds great right about now.) 🙂

    A few months ago, my husband and I went to Hawaii for our honeymoon – and in our research before our trip, we learned about the Hawaiian Islands hotspot theory. Basically (if I describe this correctly), the theory states that there’s a permanent hotspot in the Pacific Ocean where volcanic magma pushes through the earth’s crust, forming new volcanoes. Each of the Hawaiian Islands formed this way over this same hotspot – but tectonic plates moved the already-formed volcanoes/islands north, creating a string of islands. (But the hotspot stayed in the same place.) Therefore, the northern islands (like Kauai) are older since they’ve traveled north, whereas the southern islands (like the Big Island) are younger since they are closer to the hotspot. As we visited each of these four islands, we could see geographical characteristics that supported this.

    There’s a new underwater volcano (called Loihi) currently forming southeast of the Big Island. It’s located on the hotspot, so geologists are talking about it being the newest Hawaiian island. If I were to time travel, I’d be curious if Loihi actually grew large enough to become an inhabited Hawaiian island like the rest … and I’d also wonder if the northern islands would have eroded or even disappeared.

    • Colleen–That’s fascinating to think about how the earth itself is continuing to evolve. I’d love to put a down payment on one of those islands and then jump forward 2,000 years in the future to reap the benefits of all the resorts built there! (And at least one nature preserve, of course.)


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