October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
In expressing the crux of my idea for a science fiction story, I am immediately and irreparably ruining the element of surprise that would serve to drive and enliven the story; unfortunately, I do not have the more minor plot details mapped out nearly concretely enough to effectively set up and carry out this dramatic moment of revelation, so here it is, unadorned: my idea is for the protagonist to to travel into what he thinks is the future (via a time machine of his own making), only to later find out (in spectacularly dramatic fashion) that he has actually traveled into the past. He believes himself to be in the future, firstly because he believes he set his time machine for a forward journey, and secondly because he finds himself in a seemingly very technologically advanced scientific lab of sorts. He comes to the realization that he has in fact been transported back in time when he sees scientists performing a procedure on his younger self, somehow altering the workings of his brain in a way he does not yet fully understand; he discovers that he has, since that past time, been living in a sort of manufactured reality originating at the point he is now observing. He later finds out that at this time he was being “programmed,” in a sense, to live the life he has lived and to create the time machine (which he had previously believed to be a covert act of rebellion against very strict government regulations), which, in reality, only transports people backward in time, never forward.
Unbeknownst to him, the scientists are all aware of the presence of his future self in the scene from the past, and they cheerily inform him that they now have the technology to merge his future self with his past self, and he will forget the knowledge he has just acquired regarding his own past; he will thus live the same life again, precisely repeating his actions. He comes to the dizzying realization that this pattern of events has happened an infinite number of times. He begs to know the deeper purpose behind the scientists’ actions; they explain that, in a manner similar but not identical to the mechanism of time travel in the “Brooklyn Project” story, sending others back in time propels them (the scientists) forward, into an age of advanced scientific and technological progress. The scientists did not themselves create the time machines because having ordinary citizens perform this function served the purpose of preventing unpredictable rebellions; the scientists implant in people’s minds the plan to build a time machine (the scientists are only able to instill concrete plans of action; trying to instill various more complicated ideas and emotions is too risky and complex), a plan that the people will think is subversive, so that the people’s hunger for rebellion is satisfied and they are not tempted to revolt against the stringent government regulations in any other manner. I am still unsure how such a story would end; perhaps the scientists would eventually go too far into the future, potentially into a world of nuclear warfare, and thus end the process…or perhaps the process would just continue to repeat itself into eternity…still not sure. Avoiding making any logical errors in the time travel aspect of the story will be a challenge, but hopefully not an insurmountable one. Another possibility would be to tell the story from the point of view of the scientists, and maybe even to have them being unknowingly manipulated as well…so many possibilities!