Time Travel Is a Wash

I honestly haven't thought a ton about time travel, besides the occasional plot brush with it in the Back to the Future and Terminator franchises (why do Terminators need to be naked when you send them back in time? They're filled with tons of non-organic material! They're freaking cyborgs!) or, of course, Quantum Leap, which posited that not only could you go back in time and change the course of events, you were downright obligated to do it.

But I have come across an interesting, time travel-based novel called How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu. The narrator in this novel tells us that the events of the past cannot be changed, no matter how badly you wish they were, and that any attempt to do so can only create problematic rifts in the space-time continuum (which the narrator, as a kind of time travel handyman, must fix). The following passage from Yu's novel is interesting not only in its own right, but in light of recent we-killed-Bin Laden events:

"...it's true: time does heal. It will do so whether you like it or not, and there's nothing anyone can do about it. If you're not careful, time will take away everything that ever hurt you, everything you have ever lost, and replace it with knowledge. Time is a machine: it will convert your pain into experience. Raw data will be compiled, will be translated into a more comprehensible language. The individual events of your life will be transmuted into another substance called memory and in the mechanism something will be lost and you will never be able to reverse it, you will never again have the original moment back in its uncategorized, preprocessed state. It will force you to move on and you will not have a choice in the matter."


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