Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Sound of Inconsistency

Humans are fascinated by time. We have a million words to describe it and explain it. We measure it and measure ourselves by it. And we wonder about its nature. Does it move in a straight line or does it exist all at once? Can we move through it? Can we go back in time and change the past or is the past simply gone? And science fiction loves this concept. But sometimes the concept gets mishandled.

In particular, I’m thinking about a film called A Sound of Thunder. This film bombed. Lousy effects, indifferent acting and a weak story all resulted in the film earning only $12 million against its $80 million budget. But I think the real failure was its utter misuse of the concept of time travel. Observe.

Based on Ray Bradbury’s short story of the same name, Thunder involves a private company that sells hunting tours to the past. For a large fee, you can go back in time and bag an Allosaurus. But wait! Won't that change the future? That’s what the butterfly effect tells us: if you go back in time and kill so much as a butterfly, you can change the present/future in unimaginable ways. Why? Because that's how butterflies roll.

To avoid changing history, this company has chosen a specific, doomed Allosaurus to be hunted. This Allosaurus is seconds away from sinking into a tar pit, and the tar pit will be covered by a volcanic blast a couple minutes later. Thus, killing the doomed Allosaurus a minute or two early won’t change anything.

But in the process of hunting the doomed Allosaurus, something goes wrong and one of the hunters steps on a butterfly. BamO! The future begins to change.

Right away, the flaws appear in this premise. For starters, how did they find this Allosaurus and pinpoint his time of death? And how can they take back more than one hunting party since each party will arrive at the same time? But much more importantly, how can killing the butterfly matter when the volcano will kill everything in the area, including the butterfly in a matter of minutes? In other words, if it’s ok to kill the doomed Allosaurus, why isn’t it ok to kill the doomed butterfly?

Then it gets worse. When they get back, nothing has changed. But a few hours later, things do begin to change. Only, they change in waves. At first, some of the plants become more jungle-like. Then some animals begin to change. Then some humans become more animal-like. Then new species begin to appear. And if our intrepid team can’t get back to the lab and go back in time and fix this by stopping the butterfly-slaughter (or maybe giving it mouth to mouth), then soon everything will change.

But this doesn’t really make any sense. Why would time change in waves? Further, why would it only change a little bit at a time, e.g. making some plants jungle-like, but not others, changing some humans, but not others. This reeks of "plot convenience"! Indeed, what’s going on here is rather than sticking with a consistent concept of how time should work, they are just doing whatever the plot needs. That makes the whole premise a joke.

This film highlights the real danger of doing time travel paradoxes in films. People find this stuff fascinating and they like to think about it. And if your theory isn’t consistent or doesn’t make sense then you’re doomed. You can’t just fake this stuff scene by scene because science fiction audiences are too savvy for that.

So while we’re on the topic, let me leave you with a couple questions.

1. Do you think time exists and can we change the past?
2. Would you change the past if you could?
3. What are some of your favorite time travel films/stories?


Tennessee Jed said...

Although I missed this one, I do love the concepts presented by time. And, even if one accepts the notion that a willing suspension of belief in necessary in any kind of time travel movie, there does reach a point where the lack of logic reaches a tipping point, which it appears to have done here. You had me in terms of your bottom line right after lousy effects, indifferent acting and weak plot.

Although I'll try and think of a way to fix the plot, it may be possible. :)

AndrewPrice said...

And before Scott says anything, yes, I know this is another Peter Hyams film. Don't ask me why he comes up so much... it's probably because he does a lot of science fiction and few others do.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. I think the problem here is the lack of explanation of the holes. For example, the butterfly just kills me. It will be incinerated about a minute after they kill it either way... so the whole premise suddenly seems so fake. Indeed, they go out of their way to set up this premise and explain it and really hit you over the head with it and then they immediately abandon it with the butterfly. Why?

On the time changing in waves, they try to explain that by saying "higher organisms would go last," but that doesn't make sense because of how they do it -- why do the building stick around at all then? And why some people but not others? I'm not saying this couldn't be done (changing in waves) but it's got to be consistent.

P.S. I love the time travel ideas. I think it can jazz up even the worst film.

Ed said...

I've seen this film a couple times. It starts well enough, but doesn't hold up for the reasons you mention. In particular, it feels like the actors are going through the motions.

I do think time exists, I mean why not?, so we probably can go back and change it. Would we? I don't think that's a good idea.

Some of my favorite time related stories are from "Star Trek The Next Gen."

Tennessee Jed said...

I know this one is slightly off topic, but I noticed the passing of actor Harry Morgan. Loved him in Dragnet and M.A.S.H.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Go back and forth on the issue. On the one hand, it seems like something like time would be something we could control because we can travel more slowly or more quickly in it depending on speed -- in fact, that's a problem for satellites believe it or not. So if we can mess with it, then we should be able to back it up.... or at least that seems to make sense.

But then time also seems a bit like a special case?

In any event, going back in time to fix it does sound ridiculously dangerous and I would think it would be a truly bad day for humanity the moment we get that power.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I just saw the headline. That is sad. He was very likable.

ScottDS said...

Ha! Why, yes it is another Peter Hyams film. :-) I've never seen it but it's always been on my radar. I remember seeing a trailer and then the film was dumped into theaters for about five minutes two years later.

I know the Back to the Future films talk about "the ripple effect": if you change the past, the effects ripple forward gradually though time.

Re: the Allosaurus, if the company can send people back through time, doesn't it stand to reason that they can figure out the location of one dinosaur?

Re: the hunting party... yeah, this is a slippery slope. Either all the parties would arrive at the same time in the same place, or a new timeline is created every time they go back, which begs the question of which timeline is the real one?

As for favorites, most of these are pretty obvious. :-)

The BTTF films (yes, all three!), several Trek episodes including "Yesterday's Enterprise," "The City on the Edge of Forever," "Cause and Effect," "Trials and Tribble-ations," "Relativity," etc.

There's even a novel about the Department of Temporal Investigations seen on DS9. If you want your mind blown, read the author's annotations here and here.

AndrewPrice said...


I seem to have inadvertently become the President of the Peter Hyams fan club. :/

The Allosaurus point is a minor one problem-wise though they never really explain how they found it. And it just strikes me as a LOT too powerful to be able to scan the whole past and somehow find this single Allosaurus who is about to buy the farm at this precise moment. But like I said, that's not my real complaint, my real complaint is how they then set up this whole "you can kill the Allosaurus" idea and then immediately violate it. That's stupid storytelling.

They don't even try to explain the hunting party. I guess in theory each group could go back a second before the prior one but it sounds like a major traffic jam to me.

Back To The Future does a fantastic job of dealing with the whole looping aspect of time travel. Those are great!

I also like the Star Trek episodes that deal with it, except I don't care for the whole temporal cops stuff.

I liked Time Cop a lot as well, though that always made me wonder how they can go back after time has been changed.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I've actually seen this one. Yeah, it was pretty awful, although I watched anyway because I'd read the original story and wanted to see what they did with it. You're right, this explanation of changing the past is ridiculous. I hadn't considered the volcanic eruption (I mean, I guess it's possible that the butterfly could have flown really quickly out of range, but come on), but the idea of changes happening in waves is ridiculous and was obviously done to create a full-length movie with lots of action sequences.

As for changing the past, I would not. It's fun to think about going back and changing something so things would go the way you want, but in reality it's trying to play God. If a loved one of mine died in some tragic accident, then yes, I would be sorely tempted and might go back; as of now, however, I think things should be left the way they are.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Oh excellent! I was hoping someone had read the story -- I haven't. Is it better than the film when it hits these ideas?

T-Rav said...

Also, I saw about Harry Morgan's passing a few months ago. I honestly didn't know he was still alive, or that his career was so active. He seemed like a very nice guy (and frankly, in hindsight, was almost the only reason for watching the later seasons of M*A*S*H). RIP.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, On the butterfly, I've given this a lot of thought over the years and I just can't see how it escapes. I think they added the volcano just to take away any chance that someone would think "well maybe the Allosaurus escapes" or something like that. But the explosion is so devastating and so widespread that NOTHING will escape. Suddenly, the butterfly looks pretty darn doomed to me.

Not to mention, they don't even go into detail about what the butterfly does to change history. That might have helped if they at least gave us a path to understanding how this mattered.

On changing time, I think it would be a disaster. Think about how bad we are at predicting events in our own lives, now multiply by that by infinity and then try to feel confident that whatever you don't won't destroy us all or make things worse.

And on changing your own past, I bet that would change people's answers if they could go back and fix a couple things -- though Star Trek: TNG did a pretty episode about that too with Picard where he ruins his life by trying to change it.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, yes and no. In the story (spoiler alert!), the means of time travel and how easy it is to radically change the future are presented in virtually the same way. The crisis unfolds the same way as well, for the most part; however, on returning to the present, things have changed immediately. People are still there, but they have a more savage, caveman-like mentality and have just elected a fascist President. This is more plausible than the ripple effect of the movies, in my opinion.

However, let me say that I don't really agree with the temporal version of the "butterfly effect." I agree that minor initial events can at times have major consequences, but Bradbury (and then the movie) takes it to the extreme. To avoid getting too long-winded, I think he and others neglect the possibility of course correction. For example, the reasoning here is that the now-dead butterfly doesn't pollinate plants which don't feed a bunch of animals and so on. Okay. But if the butterfly hadn't pollinated those plants, another insect would have, and if the animals hadn't been able to eat those plants, they would have eaten others. Basically, this is asking us to believe that the world we live in came about because of chance, or rather a series of chances, and would have fallen apart with even the smallest alteration. That's asking too much.

(To be clear, Bradbury did do a good job of putting these ideas out there. My quarrel is with the ideas themselves.)

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks T-Rav! I figured Bradbury had a better explanation than the film does.

You make an interesting point about the over-statement aspect of this. It's hard to see how one butterfly can be responsible for pollinating enough plants to lead to the death of a bunch of animals.

However, I think it can be done.

Maybe the key is the number of kids the butterfly would have had but didn't? Or maybe the butterfly would have passed a disease to some animal that is a genetic forefather of humanity. I think those are easier ripples to follow.

And I can see where the vast amount of time we're talking about can have a very serious ripple effect, even from small actions.

I guess, my point is that all in all, I don't have a problem with the concept, I just want them to explain the process enough to believe that it's a likely result.

ScottDS said...

Yes, that TNG episode is "Tapestry." I believe the episode was originally titled "A Q Carol" and was to be much bigger in scope, covering multiple events from Picard's life instead of just one.

As much as I'd love to go back in time, could it really work or would time correct itself? For example, if I went back in time 10 years to ask out my high school crush, would fate conspire to stop me from doing so?

And if you ever find yourself back in time, make sure you've brought this poster along with you.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think it turned out to be an excellent episode because it was so well focused. I don't think changing more events would have been good for the story.

EXCELLENT POSTER! "Hang this up in your time machine." :)

Would time frustrate you? Hmm. Did you ever see the movie Final Countdown? You should watch it. It's pretty neat. It's about a nuclear powered aircraft carrier that gets sent back in time to right before Pearl Harbor. It's really well done.

But to answer your question... who knows? The other question is, would it make your life any better or not?

ScottDS said...

Yeah, I saw that film though it's been a while.

Time doesn't frustrate me - I seem to have plenty of it. Sure, we all have events we'd like to revisit and change but if everything happens for a reason, then it'll all make sense in the end.

ScottDS said...

Actually, that was a terrible thing for me to say. Things happen that don't make sense all the time!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, don't get me wrong, I don't mean to denigrate the concept entirely. I just think Bradbury overdid it.

On the flip side, Michael Crichton argued in "Timeline" that it was effectively impossible to change the past, even if you could go back in time, because one man can't change anything major. I don't agree with this argument either. It's true, single individuals can't make a significant impact on the overall flow of events--except on those occasions when they do just that. Neither author makes a lot of sense to me on this topic.

And yeah, the movie should have been much clearer on this point--and a lot of other things.

AndrewPrice said...

But if things don't happen for a reason, then here would be your chance to fix them!

I tend to believe God helps those who help themselves. . . to a time machine! :)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree with you actually.

On the one hand, I think it would take something very specific to change the past. Killing Hitler would probably do it -- though I can't tell you what the end result would have been. Killing a butterfly wouldn't unless it were about to do something truly incredible like it was the body in which a particular evolution happened. Even killing off a whole species like the T-Rex probably wouldn't have changed much ultimately because they became an evolutionary dead end.

On the other hand, if time is "a thing" and we can travel in it. Then I think there are three possible outcomes: 1. we can change things and time changes. 2. we can change things in the past, but they don't actually change the timeline at all because there isn't a steady flow of time like we think, but it is instead compartmentalized. 3. we can only observe but can't change things.

I think the idea that we can change things, but not anything major is simply illogical. If you can make a change, then you can make any kind of change. I don't see why we could change some things but not others? That implies that time is more than time but is actually God itself deciding all events and it will let you mess with unimportant things but not others. That strikes me as just wrong philosophically.

T-Rav said...

Also, with regard to the ripple effect: I don't think what "Back to the Future" did is the same thing "A Sound of Thunder" did. For one thing, "Back to the Future" had a DeLorean and was just awesome in every way; for another, while there are some surface similarities, keep in mind that the plot unfolded in 1955, immediately after Marty had inadvertently changed history. Had he been able to go back to 1985 right away, he would arrived in a world where he didn't exist, and might have been erased on the spot. But because he was still in 1955, he could set things right.

On this note, I was always under the impression that what he saw in the changing photograph wasn't really a "ripple effect," but sort of a probability meter of the future. Even though he had eliminated the circumstances under which his parents met, there was still the possibility that they would get together later (and of course did). Because of this, Marty wasn't erased from existence immediately and therefore could continue to work on them.

For negative evidence of this, see also the ending of "Back to the Future, Part II," where Marty burns the future sports almanac Biff had used to change history. Once it was burnt, there was no way of getting it back; therefore the newspaper headline changed immediately.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I wouldn't say it's terrible, that's life. Life is full of good and bad things, most of which are unexplained or beyond our control... you just have to accept it and grow from it.

T-Rav said...

Speaking of recent movies and such, have you guys heard of "Rome Sweet Rome"? It's in the beginning stages right now, from what I hear. Basically, it involves an entire regiment of Marines getting transported from their Mideast base to right outside Rome in the year 23 B.C., during the reign of Emperor Augustus. They have lots of modern weapons at their disposal, the Romans have a well-disciplined army 100 times their size. Hilarity ensues.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Interesting take on Back to the Future. I actually never gave much thought to the time change mechanism.

I suspect if he tried to go back to 1985, he would have vanished because he didn't exist. And I think the reason he starts fading out is because time is basically "catching up to him." So in a way it's like a ripple reaching out for him.

However, I wouldn't say that means time changes in ripples because he's a special case -- he's taken himself out of time. So maybe he just needs time to process?

In any event, you are correct that BTTF is a very different scenario than Thunder because the time frames are different as Marty is in the past or future when changes are made.

Though now I'm wondering about the changes made in the past by future Biff and how that didn't wipe out Marty while he was in the future in film 2?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, No, I haven't heard of that? Is it a series? What channel?

Koshcat said...

I don't know if time really exists or not. It is somewhat arbitrary but it is always moving in one direction. Because we don't have some people going forward in time and others going back wards, maybe it truly exists. Its definition is somewhat arbitrary. One second being 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a cesium atom of course.

I have never bought into the idea of the butterfly effect. It sounds like BS put out by the global warming crowd. "If you run your car for 20 secs at a stoplight, you will destroy the world!" The whole chaos theory crap relies on the idea that an evolutionary change occurs in only one organism. This is hogwash. Biology doesn't work that way. Besides, wouldn't be more interesting to actually just watch the dinosaurs do their stuff? Sure, shooting a lion might be cool but watching them take down a wildebeest is awesome! Did they at least dress the allosaur out and bring back the meat? Since they may be related to birds, I wonder if it would taste like turkey?

My two favorite time related concept shows is The Time Machine and the Star Trek NG where there were multiple time lines. Back to the Future movies and Star Trek IV were good and entertaining but not very intellectually stimulating.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, True, there is a difference between mentally stimulating and just entertaining. And the BTTF stuff and Star Trek IV really are mainly entertainment as they don't delve too deeply into explaining the theory.

I think you and T-Rav made a very solid point that the butterfly effect is vastly overstated. I can see how certain actions could clearly change the timeline, e.g. killing Hitler or Shakespeare. But I would agree that 99.99999999% of our actions will have no effect whatsoever on the timeline.

In terms of time being arbitrary.... if it is something real, then it will need its own structure, so to speak. Thus our attempt to measure it is probably too crude. In other words, I doubt that time cares that we've broken it into seconds and minutes and dates and our attempt to measure it that way probably wrongly assumes its nature.

Koshcat said...

Maybe because we give it structure it seems like it is real when in actuality it is not. Technically, all we are doing is just measuring the rotation and revolution of the earth. It doesn't care if we are on it or not.

AndrewPrice said...

True, but I would think the fact we can observe it and measure other things in it suggests it is real in some form.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's what I think would have happened. Actually, maybe in a way it is like a ripple effect, since his older brother fades out from the photograph first, then his older sister, then he starts to. So it's like the changes are emanating out from 1955 and, as you say, catching up with him. It's still somewhat different from "A Sound of Thunder," though.

Yeah, that thing in Part II with Biff making the changes always confused me. It wouldn't have wiped out Marty, because he'd already been born when Biff shot his father and then married his mother. But we still should have seen some changes in 2015. Maybe the timeline took time to alter? Doc and Marty did leave in the DeLorean right after Biff returned, so maybe there wasn't time for them to notice the changes. Or it could just be the simplest of all explanations: "plot hole."

T-Rav said...

Andrew, no, it's actually a movie, or it will be, it just hasn't been made yet. It has an interesting backstory, actually: It started as a question someone posed on, something like "If I had a fully equipped Marine regiment of 2,000 men and went back in time with them, could I kill or remove the Emperor Augustus?" (I don't know why you would want to do this, given that Augustus was one of the Roman Empire's more stable and successful rulers, but whatever.) Anyway, people were talking about this in the comments section, and one of them who was on his lunch break or something just dashed off the makings of a short story about it, along the lines of what I described earlier. One thing led to another; the story got through the electronic grapevine, and a month or two ago some people in Hollywood bought the rights to it and are making it into a movie. Interesting stuff.

It's a fascinating topic, because at first glance you would think a couple thousand Marines could roll right over the Romans with their mere swords and javelins. But then there are all kinds of logistical issues, like how long the Marines' weapons and ammo could hold out and so on. It's been the subject of a lot of online debate.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think it might be a plot hole. If they have a theory for it, they've never explained it.

And you're right, maybe the slow disappearance of his brother and sister mean time doesn't change all at once? I'm honestly not sure.

In any event, I agree this is a different concept than Thunder.

On Rome: That's fascinating. I've never heard of it, and it's interesting Hollywood would pick it up with that pedigree. The idea is an interesting one to be sure. Ultimately, I suspect the Marines would win by reputation.... off a few locals to show your power, then lob the occasional grenade or whatever to reinforce that, and no one will challenge you. Plus, once people realized how strong you are, you can co-opt locals to do your fighting for you.

Interesting idea though!

ScottDS said...

Re: BTTF II, there was a deleted shot where Old Biff comes back to 2015 and disappears, the idea being Lorraine shot Biff some time in the 90s so he wouldn't exist in the future. Audiences found this confusing and it was cut.

As for Rome Sweet Rome, from what I recall, someone on Reddit asked what would happen if a Marine unit found themselves in ancient Rome. A military historian provided a lengthy answer and within a few days, he had an agent and a movie deal! More info here.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I figured you would be alone with links! You're like a link ninja! :)

On Rome, that's fascinating! I think I even remember the guy from Jeopardy. I can see why Hollywood would be interested if it's become this big of an internet hit all on it's own. That's a pretty bit of proof of the popularity of the concept. It would be disappointed to eventually here this was all a marketing gimmick. But putting my cynicism aside, I'll just say that I think it's great!

On Biff, yeah, that would have been confusing. I’ve never taken those film seriously enough to worry about their time travel mechanics. I’ve always seen them primarily as comedies that play around with time travel and thus should be given a good deal of leeway. By comparison, something like Thunder supposedly takes the process more seriously and thus I do fault it for having messing rules and not really following them.

T-Rav said...

Scott, yeah that's basically what happened. I didn't know the guy was a military historian, though.

That's really interesting about Biff dying. It doesn't make a lot of sense, though: if he was shot in the '90s, he couldn't have been alive in 2015 to go back in time and give the almanac to his 1955 self, so isn't that a paradox? Uh-oh--I feel a migraine coming on.

T-Rav said...

While I'm thinking of it, this story also reminds me of the "Ring of Fire" books. These started coming out a few years ago; basically, they focus on a small West Virginia town (and that's where I lose Andrew's attention) that gets transported back to 17th-century Germany as the result of a disruption in the space-time continuum. The townspeople land in the middle of the Thirty Years' War and come into contact with figures like Gustavus Adolphus, Cardinal Richelieu, and the Habsburgs, and start changing European history with their technology and their notions of liberty and government. The books aren't perfect, and they're kinda pushing a liberal message the whole time, but they still present some interesting scenarios.

ScottDS said...

Link ninja, eh? If only I could profit from it. :-)

If you have more BTTF questions, the official FAQ from writer/producer Bob Gale and writer/director Robert Zemeckis should help.

When my friend and I did our own audio commentary for the first film a couple years ago (yes really!), I wondered, if Marty's parents and siblings are better off in the restored 1985, why doesn't Marty himself change? Or maybe he has and we just don't see the changes. I know he gets the truck but that's just one thing.

And on a more comical note, Bob Gale did an interview where someone asked him, "Would George McFly really hire the guy who almost raped his wife 30 years earlier?" All gale could do was laugh.

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry, I've been otherwise engaged in work related activities, but I was going to say Back to the Future 1 & 2. I never got around to seeing #3. I felt used by Spielberg by then and refused to see it.

ScottDS said...

Bev -

If you felt used by him then, I'd hate to see you now!

You can see it. It's safe. It's not the best movie ever but it's a lot of fun. Plus Spielberg is only an executive producer on these films - Gale and Zemeckis are the true creators here. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, No problem. Real life comes first.

Ironically, Back to the Future III is a very different movie and is very enjoyable -- it's basically a snazzy western.

(BTW, we have a debate Saturday night. I just sent you an e-mail about it.)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yeah, I suppose being a link ninja isn't all that profitable. :(

I always figured Marty didn't change personally because the point to the film was that he was already "good" and had to save his family. Making him "gooder" would have kind of ruined the moral.

You did your own commentary? Why?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Uh...

1. Sending a West Virginia town to 17th Century Germany would move them forward technologically... unless you're talking about meth-lab technology.

2. NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would listen to West Virginians about government, nor could anyone from West By God Virginia really lecture you about liberty, unless they are talking about taking sexual liberties with. . . uh. Skip that.

I should probably stop now before I get rude.

Mycroft said...

Lots of good comments.
I remember enjoying Bradbury's short story 20 years ago, but I didn't remember a volcano erupting, just that the dinosaur was about to die anyway. I thought each hunting party went after a different dinosaur (life is nasty, brutish and short).
My favorite time travel movies are:
Terminator - if you don't know this movie, then I can't help you.
Time After Time - Malcolm McDowell as HG Wells chasing Jack the Ripper into the present day.
Frequency - Jim Caviezel is a cop that lost his dad (Dennis Quaid) as a young boy that starts playing around with his dad's old ham radio during major sunspot activity and manages to contact his dad in the past.

ScottDS said...

Why? Because that's what geeks do when they're bored with a couple hours to kill! I actually noticed some (inconsequential) stuff for the first time even as I was watching the film for the umpteenth time.

As for Marty, yeah, I figured that would be the case. For that matter, why don't his parents recognize him? "You ever notice our son looks like that guy who hooked us up at the dance 30 years ago?" :-)

Individualist said...


My thoughts on whether or not one can change the past tie into one of my favorite books.

IT is by Robert Forward a physicist who wrote HArd Science fiction and I beleive it was Timemaster.

Essentially it postied that one could use wormholes to travel into the past and future by moving the wormhole at relatavistic speeds.

According to Forward there was a law of improbable events which said that the more one tried to change the past the more unlikely and improbable events would occur to keep the past as it was. Basically it assumed that everything at a point and time would occur.

IT solved the grandfather paradox by stating that if you went into the past to kill your grandfather that the probability that your grandfather had a double passing by at that point would increase so that you could not change the past. IT was an interesting idea and one I found unique among time travel stories.

As to the Butterfly effect, I believe there was an Outer limits or Twilight zone episode I saw that used this plot which was much better. In this story the timeline changed because the Butterfly stuck to a man's boot since he stepped of the proscribed area that was safe and onto real soil.

When they got back the words in the English language were spelled differently on signs and the country appeared to be a police state.

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, It would make more sense if they picked different dinosaurs.

Yeah, it's hard to imagine not knowing the Terminator movies at this point.

I actually haven't seen Frequency, though it sounds intriguing. I'm becoming a big fan of Caviezel -- very talented.

Time After Time is an excellent movie!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I see. You should get out more Scott, you look so pale! ;)

On the recognition thing, I've heard that before and that doesn't trouble me.

By the time he looked like himself, it's been 30 years and they have watched him grow up. There's just no way their memory is that perfect that they could say "you look exactly like someone I saw 30 years before" and then make the jump to "so you must have traveled in time!"

In fact, think back on someone you knew 30 year ago... do you even remember their hair color? Much less the details of their face? I'll bet you can't even describe what your parents looked like 20 years ago in 100% correct detail.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me that his parents didn't make the connection. To us it seems natural, but in reality--hey, it's been 30 years. Your memory isn't that perfect, and even if you did see a resemblance, time travel would be the last explanation you'd arrive at.

Bev, why do you hate those movies so much?? I really like all three.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I remember that! I think it was an Outer Limits (or an Amazing Stories), and I remember the written language was different so he couldn't read anything. And then the police state and something about his family was different too. I'd forgotten about that!

That's an interesting theory that time fights to keep itself going in the same way it's always gone, though I'm not sure I would buy that. I think that would make time sentient, i.e. God, and why would God bother to fight back so halfheartedly if you really were attacking him head-on by trying to change "time." In other words, that kind of the Rube Goldberg style of defense and I suspect if time can defend itself, it would be much more direct and just kill you before you did anything.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew....

I would fight you on this, except that the heroes are unionized coal miners who nonetheless act very enlightened and are rather self-conscious revolutionaries, which I find irritating for the same reasons as I dislike "Hell on Wheels." So I won't bother.

But seriously, did a West Virginian rape your pet goat when you were a kid? Because, you've kinda got some issues there.

Individualist said...


Forward does not make Time Sentient. Rather what he states is that all matter at anyone instance in time is there whether it came from the future or the past. Therefore if you went back in time to a point in the past then your future self was always at that point in the past.

Thus if you tried to chage the past then what you were really doing is making the past what it has always been. Since you can't create a paradox then when you attempt to create paradoxes what actually happens is you make randome events much more likely.

The more you attempted this the more strange things would happen that kept the timeline from changing. Why because the timeline cannot change, period. So if you accfept that then any attempt to actually change the past would somehow fail or if successful then that meant you were unaware of what actually happened and instead of changing the past you went back in time to ensure it would happen as it occured.

There was no intelligence that behind this but rather simple cause and effect. IF you could come from the future to the past then cause and effect went both ways as well. It was interesting because I did not see any other science fiction writers or physiciists dealing with this in this fashion. Forward being a theoretical fiction wrote hard science fiction and ahd the scientific background to be successful at it.

Individualist said...

theoretical physicist not fiction

I am the king of typos

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Trust me, you would have issues too if you spent any length of time there. It's pretty stunning actually what goes on there. And if I did have a pet goat, I can assure you someone would have tried to rape it.

Enlightened union coal workers huh? I guess they'll teach the Germans how to draw government paychecks for not working. . . "the crazy check."

I've completely given up on "Hell on Wheels" by the way, it just would not stop with the angry racial politics -- scene after scene.

BevfromNYC said...

Indi - I kind of like "theoretical fiction". I think you've just invented a new genre!

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, You and me both -- I'm amazed how many typos I generate these days. Ug.

That sounds like an interesting theory and quite a deep book. I can accept the idea that time simply can't be changed. But it strikes me that if we're talking about time basically fighting back to prevent the change, then it does imply sentience because why else would time decide what must transpire and then struggle to keep it that way by inventing new things to stop you?

In any event, it's an interesting idea all around and definitely fun to stretch the old brain with!

BevfromNYC said...

There is a wonderful fiction book called "Time and Again" by Jack Finney about a government experiment where a person is totally immersed in thinking and living in a specific time period. And if they concentrated hard enough and long enough, they could project themselves into the time period. In the case of the book, it was NYC in 1880's. It a great read.

Individualist said...


I told a friend of mine about "theoretical fiction" but she said she thought I was just making it up....

Go figure....

tryanmax said...

Indie, I'm going to have to check those books out because they sound based on the closest thing I've heard to my own ideas about time and time travel. Would you, maybe, throw up some links to Amazon?

My thinking is time only exists in the sense that space exists, space being the nothing between things. What we consider time is actually just the observance of cause-and-effect. In fact, observation is a cause-and-effect as well. Events are perceived and then recorded in the mind.

What we consider the forward motion of time is really just the nature of probability. Untouched, organized things will stay so and disorganized things will also stay so. But when things begin to interact, cause-and-effect comes into play and it must play by the rules of probability. It is infinitely more probable that things in an organized state with move to a disorganized state than the other way around. Consider a novel: there is only one correct order for the pages and, if they were unbound and tossed in the air, it is far more likely that they will come down out of order than in it, let alone neatly stacked. We observe this natural tendency of probability repeatedly and ascribe to that the concept of forward direction.

Additionally, we are free agents capable of imposing different probabilities on bound agents and other free agents, as well as observing the imposed probabilities of other free agents. Thus we can observe, take part in, or direct the organization of disorganized agents which is, in a sense, engaging in time travel.

If all this seems a bit self-referential, consider that we have no way of knowing whether we are truly moving "forward" as we describe it, gaining knowledge of past experiences along the way. We could very well all be moving backward, losing knowledge as we go and taking apart that which we perceive ourselves to be organizing while matter in general is coalescing into an organized state.

As to why we all seem to be moving in the same "direction," that only serves to reenforce that there is only one law of probability even if we can't be entirely certain which direction that law points.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That sounds interesting. Thanks for the head's up! :)

Indi... nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk nyuk. Actually, that was pretty funny... it made me laugh! :)

tryanmax said...

Oh, BTW, I do like a good time-travel movie, but I can't think of a favorite off the top of my head. I guess the BttF series always gets me to sit down when it's on. Same with Terminator and Bill and Ted. I guess I like the ones that are pure entertainment rather than the ones that try to make actual sense of time travel.

BevfromNYC said...

Tryan - Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a totally excellent movie! I was actually surprised that I liked it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, So you have no particular thoughts on this topic? ;)

Hmmm. That's very deep. And your mention of perception is interesting because you're right that just because we perceive a thing a certain way doesn't mean that's how it really is. In fact, I've always been fascinated by the idea that you and I may see the same thing which we call the color green, but our perception could be incredibly different. Thus, what I see as green, you would call brown if you could "look through my eyes" because out minds process information differently. But since we aren't aware that we are seeing different colors when we both choose to call it "green," we go about our lives never realizing that we are really seeing the world very differently.

And what this means is that we truly have no way to know anything about the world through our own perceptions because we can't trust them.

That's not to say we can't just overlook that and go about our lives without ever worrying about it. But it's fascinating that something as simple as "I can see it, so I know what it is" is simply not true. And if something so basic isn't true, then how can we truly know anything?

And in that vein, you're right that we really have no way of knowing if we are moving through time, if we are going forward or backward or if each moment is somehow a different us with a millionth of a second lifespan. Or maybe we're living all of time at once and our brain can filter it out and give us order?

It boggles the mind!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Me too. I wasn't expecting to like it and I loved it! And it's giving us a phrase that my sister and I use for paradoxes all the time -- "but first, we need to get Eddie Van Halen to help us make an excellent video!" LOL!

T-Rav said...

So if I think hard enough, I can project myself into a different time period? Hmmmm. Interesting.

Excuse me all, I have to go and really concentrate on November 2008 and a few other dates.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, sorry. I'll make certain the next time I write something that it actually contributes to the conversation. ;)

On similar lines as the perception thing, I had a concept flit past my mind a few days ago that has intrigued me ever since. I was thinking about multiverse fiction and how the supporting theory is that for every uncertain outcome, all possibilities are realized in separately branching universes creating an infinitely greater and greater multitudes of universes with possibility that arises.

Then I though, what if the opposite were true? What if the number of possibilities is actually winnowing and the number of universes along with it? That puts a new twist on predestination and fatalism. Then I though, what if this were somehow discovered to be true? How would that discovery take place? How would people react? Of course, the theory would seem to suggest that any reaction would be predetermined.

Finally, what would happen when the number of universes got down to one?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Don't forget to take some things with you.... like a credible conservative candidate. :)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's a pretty fascinating idea. I guess the real question would be: what's at the end? Once we have one universe left, is that "truth" or does it just explode and open all the possibilities again?

If you were going to convert that to fiction, I would suggests someone come from the future to force you to "cause" their future rather than change their future. In other words, they know that you need to do X or their universe will slide into the "no longer possible" categories. So they would come to you to force you to do X. Presumably, others would be trying to stop you.

What an interesting idea for a story?!

Individualist said...

You will have to copy paste as I forget the html code sorry

Other books by this author that I have read and are really good...

Indestiguishable from Magic
Camelot 3000
Dragon's Egg
Saturn's Ruhk

He envisions alien societies that truly are...

One a tribe of creatures that live on a Nuetron Star who live 1000 times faster than us, others that live in the freezing cold of a comet and others that float in Saturn

He is a really interesting author who explains the science behind what he is writing.

tryanmax said...

I was thinking of it from how to fictionalize it, too.

My idea was that the story starts in a reality where the multiverse is well-known and people actually communicate and work with each other across the universes regularly. The discovery that the number of universes is actually shrinking would come when one of the known universes simply disappears. Then some genius would have the epiphany that the equation which explains the multiverse actually operates in reverse of what was thought, yada, yada, yada.

From there it would follow about what you described minus the time traveler.

tryanmax said...

Thanks, Indie. I added it to my wishlist.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Thanks for the link! Here it is in clickable form: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That could make a pretty interesting story. No doubt total chaos would erupt once people found this out, especially if they could affect which universe would vanish.

tryanmax said...

Exactly, but the chaos would actually exacerbate the problem, because as multiple universes set about destroying themselves, they actually become more and more similar.

Demolish a building in one world and it becomes more like a world that never had it. Kill someone that exists in only your universe and it now matches the others more closely.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, that's a very widely kicked around idea in physics known as quantum entanglement, which (I may be bungling the thinking here) is basically that given the ways in which separate universes are bound to bump up against one another in terms of conflicting actions and outcomes, everything is bound to collapse to one reality. It's a bit like Schrodinger's Cat writ large: just as the cat is both dead and alive until we open the box to look, so multiple realities exist for everything until a choice is forced. Interestingly, if the universes were in contact with each other, as you propose, this would probably speed up the collapse.

tryanmax said...

Interesting, my captcha is "distr" which is evocative of "disaster."

T-Rav, I'll have to brush up on my entanglement theory. I've looked into it but apparently didn't grasp it enough to realize what I had come up with. Not that I would write something too heady. If I were to tackle it (and I'm thinking now that I might) I would prefer to keep it light.

Andrew, one other thought about the chaos helping to eliminate universes. Since a vanished universe actually merges with another, the clincher is that there is no real way to tell which universe goes away. How does one fight for survival when one isn't sure what actions lead to survival?

AndrewPrice said...

Sheesh T-Rav, thanks for killing my buzz!

Actually, I kid.

But I am enjoying the mind flexing thought of something I had never considered before, even if others have. This was indeed a good day. :)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I get that a lot where the word verification is somehow on-point to what we're talking about.

Honestly, I think this would make for a fascinating bit of science fiction, even if it has been done before. The thing about repeating ideas is that it's the execution that matters, not the originality of the idea. So I'm sure there is plenty of room for more stories along these lines.

On the chaos aspect, it presents an interesting bit of irony that the more people struggle to make their world "unique" the more they would end up making them all the same. Cool twist.

Kit said...

We are talking about Time Travel and 80 comments in no one has mentioned DOCTOR WHO???

Seriously, that show has both affirmed and violated just about every rule on time travel in fiction.

Right now, their laws of Time Travel are based on certain ideas.

Time is not a line of events but is, well, I'll let the Tenth Doctor explain it: "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually—from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint—it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly...timey-wimey...stuff."

Yeah, follow that?

Then you have the 11th Doctor in Series 5 saying that "Time can be rewritten". There are characters erased from time, brought back into time (long story), universes re-booted (longer story), and entire worlds cut off from time (even longer story).

But while time is in flux, constantly changing, there are also "Set Events". i.e., events that cannot be changed and that trying to change them will lead to tragedy or big problems. Just see the episode "The Waters of Mars" to see this in action.
Examples of Set Events are the destruction of Pompeii, the rise of Hitler, and the destruction of the Doctor's homeworld of Gallifrey.

I think an old episode, "The Aztecs", stated that you cannot change history yet later episodes implied pretty strongly that you can.

Of course, the one thing characters cannot do, at least intentionally, is alter your own time line (yes, every person has their own time line -don't ask me to explain). You cannot save a loved one from death without causes irreparable damage, or possibly bringing in a bunch of timey wimey anti-body pterodactyl-thingeys that attack people, as seen in "Father's Day" and never seen since.

Also, the Doctor, it is implied quite heavily, can sense when time is "out of place".

I am trying to summarize 48 years of television history that is often self-contradictory.

As the 9th Doctor said, "It's complicated."

Kit said...

Another side effect of disrupting a "Set Event" is that you could cause all of time to occur at once with Romans on Subways, Charles Dickens writing Christmas specials, and Churchill is the Holy Roman Emperor and arrives to Parliament on a mammoth.

Also, time is always 5:02 pm on 22 April, 2011. (the time of the "Set Event"*)

As the 9th Doctor said, "It's complicated".

*If you want me to tell you which "Set Event" I am talking about then I only have one word: "Spoilers." ;)

T-Rav said...

Proof that any discussion of time travel will inevitably boil down to quantum physics, "Back to the Future," and "Doctor Who." :-) Having watched a sum total of 15 minutes of the latter, I have zero comments on that.

Kit said...

And then there is the (ab)use of the paradox in the Series 5 finale.

Since we are in the Moffat era, we can expect more (ab)use of paradox.

(I do enjoy the current Moffat era, but that doesn't mean I am unaware of the silliness of some of his plotlines.)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I am a huge Doctor Who fan and I hate to admit it slipped my mind! What a great show.

At one point, I actually had all of the then-existing episodes on VHS (more have since been found and saved since I first started collecting them... and sadly my tapes no longer work they are that old). Which is the long way of saying I've seen every single episode at least twice and some many more than that.

What a terrific show!

And when they did the reboot, I thought "man I'm going to hate this," but it won me over right away and I've loved the new stuff as well!

As for their rules on time, yeah, pretty contradictory, but it all makes sense if you don't pay too much attention to the specifics. :)

I love the idea of the TARDIS too -- being bigger on the inside than the outside.

tryanmax said...

I can't comment on Dr. Who because I've intentionally avoided it. There's just something about it that makes me not even want to know whether I'm missing something.

Kit said...


I am a huge DOCTOR WHO nerd.

I can name all 11 actors to play the Doctor -by memory.

William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, crap, forgot 8*. Anyway, 9 is Christopher Eccleston, 10 is David Tennant, and 11 is now Matt Smith.

*In my defense, it's late. :) And he was Bush in the Horatio Hornblower series.

Kit said...

Paul McGann!

(Had to look it up)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, It's a PBS thing. Growing up, no one had cable. . . if it even existed. So the only science fiction you got was Star Trek in the afternoons on one of the networks and Doctor Who usually on Sunday morning or Saturday night on PBS. (The much grittier Blake's 7 was also on sometimes.)

This was the world of science fiction for many, many years. And if you start watching this stuff, you will get hooked. It was incredibly well done and you really fell for the characters.

AndrewPrice said...


Missing McCann isn't a big deal because he only played the one film. I don't even count the guy.

I'm not a McCoy fan either because his stuff was too politically correct.

I grew up with Tom Baker but found I like Pertwee more -- especially once he got Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane was just perfect. :)

tryanmax said...

Speaking of the unmentioned, what about Time Bandits? Kids movies sure were a lot more sophisticated than they are today.

Kit said...


Know The first three companions of the Doctor (Susan Foreman, Barbara Wright, Ian Chesterton)

Know what TARDIS means: "Time And Relative Dimensions In Space".

All the regular companions on the current Who show: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Martha Jones (Freema Ageyman*), Donna Noble** (Catherine Tate), Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).

Have seen all the episodes of the New show.

Know the origin of the Daleks.

Still sad over the deaths of Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen (The Brigadier and Sarah Jane Smith, respectively).
And Sarah Jane was, and is, perfect. She remained good looking even into her 50s.

Am working on memorizing the actors who have played the Master.

Can watch this and see the brilliance of every song match-p (except maybe the Master's)

Though I have not seen TORCHWOOD. But I have seen some of the SARAH JANE ADVENTURES.

*I know I spelled her name wrong.
**My favorite of the new show

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, What's interesting is that there were about 20-25 years worth of episodes when I started watching -- (typically 6-7 "episodes" a season broken into 4-6 half hour parts. They dealt with everything you can think of in science fiction and really were the richest vein of science fiction you could tap. It's one of those shows that has so filled my science fiction knowledge that I almost can't watch other shows without thinking "yep, seen it."

Even more interestingly, the style of the show changed dramatically throughout the years as it changed with the times and the personalities of the actors who played the doctors.

The new shows are very, very different than the originals, but are some of the best science fiction on television these days. Their stories, their effects, and their action is all top notch.

I totally recommend the show.

(But if you ever decide to go back and watch old ones, let us know and we'll help easy you in. Don't start at the beginning or you will quit before the first hour... very slow show originally.)

Kit said...


"Kids movies sure were a lot more sophisticated than they are today."

DOCTOR WHO has from its birth intended to be a kid's/family show.
And yet there is this:

"You die, today."

Heck, watch GENESIS OF THE DALEKS from the old series.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Time Bandits is a Terry Gilliam film and I believe I've expressed both my admiration and utter hatred for the man. I have so many issues with Time Bandits that it's not even funny... though I do find myself watching it now and then.... staring at it like watching a train wreck in progress.

Kit said...


I am rather young (20-ish) and am getting into the old Doctor Who show via Netflix.

I have been starting with Tom Baker because he seems the most accessible though I have dropped a foot into Jon Pertwee (saw his premiere episode, great villains).

The biggest problem with watching the old show is that the BBC junked half the episodes of the 1st and 2nd Doctors.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, "Genesis of the Daleks" is my ALL TIME favorite episode. The whole concept of how these people destroy themselves and become the Daleks is just fascinating.

Kit said...


Got you confused with T-rav on my response to your TIME BANDITS comment.

Sorry about that.

AndrewPrice said...

I couldn't take Torchwood. It quickly became a sort of gay porn. But they did a brilliant multi-parter called Children of Earth which is absolutely worth seeing even if you've never seen the show before. It's incredible.

Yeah, I was sad when they died too. It's odd because you actually feel like you know these people when you've seen them on television this long.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I started with Tom Baker as well because he is the most accessible. Davidson is probably the second most accessible. Then I would say Pertwee -- who turned out to be my favorite.

The first doctor takes some REAL getting used to. He's a nasty old man and a bit of a coward, and the show is EXTREMELY slow because that was the style at the time. Plus, most of the things you know about Time Lords hadn't been thought up yet, so his history is a little dull and he's not even the star of the show -- the real stars are Barbara and Ian. There were a couple of his I had a hard time sitting through.

The first Master (with Pertwee) has quite a few solid episodes as well. And you'll run into some things you've seen in the new show which first appeared in the Pertwee years. But in the Pertwee years, he was stuck on Earth so he rarely left the planet -- unlike Baker who went everywhere. You get a lot of UNIT in those -- which I liked a lot.

tryanmax said...

I didn't realize Bandits was Gilliam. The first thing that comes to my mind is John Cleese as Robin Hood. It certainly isn't my favorite kids' movie from the 80s (I don't think I ever saw it until the 90s) but I'll definitely take it over all the tweeny garbage that Disney and Nickelodeon are putting out.

Kit said...

Now, what is DOCTOR WHO?

Okay, it is about an alien known only as The Doctor who is a Time Lord and he travels in a time/space ship called the TARDIS.

On the outside the TARDIS looks like a Blue 1964 police public call box but on the inside is a vast spaceship (gets more vast in the new show) that can travel anywhere in time and space.
And its sort of got a mind of its own.

He is very smart and very clever and quite a bit out there (check out his wardrobe!).
He also is "time-sensitive" (I think that is the term). He can sense when time is not right and, in the pilot for the new show, stated he can feel the earth moving through space as he stands on it.

And since he needs a Watson he often travels with companions. these companions are people, often human and often female*, who he picks up and takes on various adventures.
These companions serve as a stand-in for the audience as well as a moral compass for the Doctor, who often needs to be told when he is going too far against a villain.
Though he desires non-violent resolutions if he is pushed too far he can be quite vengeful (see, "Family of Blood") as this exchange after the Doctor states that he is very angry over an act the villains have committed.

Villainess: "The anger of a good man is not a problem. Good men have too many rules."
The Doctor: "Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."

He has an aversion to using guns but has no qualms about setting up an elaborate trap that ends up in you recieving a rather nasty fate.

Hope that helps.

*Rarely is there a romance between him and the companion. A bit more common in the new show than the old.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Yeah, Gilliam.

I saw it in theaters (it wasn't quite considered a kids movie at the time -- it was definitely not "G", but was probably "PG" but not "R" (no PG-13 yet)).

I remember expecting something Monty-Pythonish and was very disappointed. Over the years I've watched it many times trying to see why so many people consider it brilliant and I just can't see it.

I think what I remember most about it is the mishmash of military hardware at the end and the kid being handed the toaster by the fireman.

Kit said...


Love them.

"Chap there with wings, five rounds rapid."

The first episode of the old show I watched was ROBOT and it was kind of dull. ARK IN SPACE and SONTARAN EXPERIMENT had their moments but it was GENESIS OF THE DALEKS, specifically the scene where Sarah Jane is climbing the scaffolding, that made me realize how amazing the old show could be.

Davros is a brilliant villain in the show. The robotic voice is still chilling, far more than he was in his appearance in the new show (though his "how many have did in your name" moment was great).

The Daleks are brilliant Nazis-in-space. Born out of hate they have no emotion but anger and no desire but to destroy all none-Daleks.

I think that is why the Master and the Daleks are the best villains for the Doctor. The Doctor wants to enjoy the universe's simple pleasures. He wants to see beautiful sunsets, visit the greatest museums, and explore the most rich cultures.
However, the Daleks want to destroy everything.


AndrewPrice said...

Kit, You skipped the coolest part -- he regenerates. When he dies, he becomes a whole new person with a new personality (though the same brain).

In the old shows, he never had any romantic links with companions and I don't recall him ever using a gun for anything though I can't swear to that... but I think he never even held one.

On the companions, I've seen a lot of specials and interviews with them and it's funny because they all said the reason they left (in the old show) was that they got sick of basically just saying "what is it doctor?"

There have only been a couple companions I didn't like. I really disliked Adric -- he's a whiner. And I hate Turlow, though that was the point, he was a villain. I didn't care for Ace either -- she was in the PC mold and spent her time whining too.

Kit said...

Also, someone did a neat fan trailer for GENESIS OF THE DALEKS.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, They had a lot of cool villains!

Obviously, the Daleks are crowd favorites. And how can you go wrong with a murderous blob that thinks it's should be the only living thing in the universe!

I love the Cybermen too because they are just pure cold-blooded calculation.

The Master was probably my favorite because he combined this sense of enjoyment with being a villain.

But I liked them all, even the one-off guys throughout the series.

In the new show, I love the statutes/angels.

Genesis was just an incredibly strong episode on so many levels. He had another one with vampires in e-space (can't think of the name) which really struck me. But the one that probably hooked me was Robots of Death. I'm not sure why, but it really hit me as just excellent science fiction.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks for the link, that's an excellent trailor!


Kit said...

New I'd left out something!

Ah, yes, tyranmax.

If he gets really sick or badly injured, usually from something like radiation or a nasty fall, the kind that would kill him, he can regenerate.

Now, when he regenerates he does not simply heal, rather he gets a new body and often a new personality to boot.

There are, of course, consistancies in his personality: a love of life, a strong love for human life, a desire to protect the universe from those who wish to destroy it, and a sense of arrogance (it pops up now and again).

But each doctor is somewhat different from the others.
Jon Pertwee/3 was a mixture of Bond and Q. The suaveness of Bond with the gadgety brilliance of Q. Best I can describe.

Tom Baker/4 was a madcap bohemian in both personality and dress.

Christopher Eccleston/9 was a loner suffering from survivor's guilt after the Time War (only member of his race still alive). He was often bipolar going from overly joyful to a cold anger in a matter of seconds.

David Tennant/10 was a sad soul who would constantly seek adventure and friendship to forget about the suffering of the Time War (and the loss of a companion) and, especially in seasons 3 and 4, had an unstable side. If pushed too far he would show no mercy. In his later seasons he also brooded, alot.

Matt Smith/11 is an old man in a young man's body. Basically, take Doc Brown, make him British, and put him in a 20-year-old's body.

Kit said...

I'll be back tomorrow. Getting late.

Kit said...

Before I go, perhaps we should have some reviews of certain DOCTOR WHO episodes from both Classic and New that stand out such due to either quality or major point in series (such as a regeneration or introduced a Doctor or companion) as GENESIS OF THE DALEKS, "Blink", the Christmas Specials ("Christmas Invasion"), "Eleventh Hour", SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE, PLANET OF THE SPIDERS, "The Doctor's Wife", and "Vincent and the Doctor".

Mycroft said...

110 comments and none of us has mentioned "-All You Zombies-" by Robert Heinlein?
If you haven't read it, drop what you're doing and find a copy.
It is the definitive time travel story.

ScottDS said...

I never got into Dr. Who even though it's something I probably should be into. I know it's been rebooted several times which, in theory, should make it easier for new viewers but I'm anal-retentive and I'd have to go back to the beginning. I wouldn't even know where to start!

But I love Paul McGann. In addition to playing Lt. Bush in the Horatio Hornblower movies, he played the crazed prisoner Golic in Alien 3. His part is quite expanded in the extended cut.

T-Rav said...

I don't have anything against Doctor Who, don't get me wrong. I've been meaning to watch some episodes for a while, I just haven't gotten around to it.

TJ said...

Wow, all this scientific stuff this early in the morning is a bit much for my feeble mind (I'm a night owl), but interesting nonetheless.

My favorite time travel movies in no particular order: Somewhere in Time, Final Countdown, BTTF I and III (I found II too confusing), The Lake House, Star Trek IV and Bill & Ted (although it's been a while since I've seen that one).

On TNG, Cause and Effect is probably my favorite episode. The episode with multiple time lines that someone referred to previously is Parallels, I believe. It's the one where Worf keeps moving from time line to time line - pretty interesting.

tryanmax said...

I hate to tell you, but none of this is selling me on Dr. Who.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I should definitely review the show. I'm not sure about reviewing episodes though. Our crowd isn't specifically a Doctor Who crowd, so that might be a little dull for them. But let me think about it, maybe there's a way to do a little of both.

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, I am ashamed to admit I have not read it. I've heard of it, but haven't read it. :(

Thanks for the suggestion! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Forget McCann, he did one (lousy) movie. He's the George Lazenby of Dr. Who.

You don't have to see them in order because they aren't that kind of show. Yes, a history builds over time, but you rarely need to see even the prior episode to make sense of the next one -- though there are a couple "series" episodes (Key to Time, Trial of the Timelord).

I recommend starting with Tom Baker in Robots of Death. That will give you a feel for what you'll be in for. Then start with his earl stuff and watch him through. Then, move on to other doctors.

The new show, by the way, is a very different show so don't expect them to be all that similar.

They're both excellent, but very different.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Give it shot, you'll like it.

I think I'm going to review it soon and maybe I'll make some episode recommendations if that will help! :)

AndrewPrice said...

TJ, It can get pretty "mental" around here! :)

Excellent list! I like that episode with Worf a lot. I also like the episode that finished the series, which wasn't really a time travel show per se, but included many of the elements. That would have been a heck of a movie and much better than Generations. Actually, now that I think about it, I liked all their time stuff -- the one with Data and Mark Twain, and the one with the old Enterprise coming through the rift. Good stuff!

I haven't seen The Lake House though I'm told it's very good.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Clearly we aren't trying hard enough! LOL!

ScottDS said...

I love "Parallels" which is probably the best episode in TNG's otherwise blah seventh season. And whenever fans like to bash writer Brannon Braga, I always make it a point to mention this episode as proof of his talent.

And Andrew, both Braga and Ron Moore feel "All Good Things..." was better than Generations. I think they attribute it to the fact that they had no time to think - they just had to produce, whereas on the film, they had more time to think and toil.

"Yesterday's Enterprise" is a classic (the one with the ship coming through the rift)... and the presence of Mark Twain is the only thing I remember about those episodes (it was a two-parter titled "Time's Arrow"). That's not entirely true - I also remember the crew discovering Data's head and Data stays at a hotel where the bellhop is a young Jack London.

AndrewPrice said...

ScottDS... link ninja... peacemaker. LOL!

I actually think these are some of the best episodes they did -- probably because they tend to be the most "science fictiony". Also, a lot of their other stuff was more drama or "here's a planet, look at how bad they are," which always seemed to come with rather sloppy writing. But these were very nicely done because (I suspect) they had to pay more attention to the story itself.

MarkShek said...

3. What are some of your favorite time travel films/stories?

-Shane Carruth's "Primer" is my favorite. It's smart and difficult to follow... repeat viewings help and/or google search "primer timeline" to see various explanations. It was shot on a minimal budget ($7,000 estimate), but because of how it's filmed, you don't really notice it. It's an amazing example to demonstrate that budget means nothing compared to quality storytelling.

-Christopher Smith's "Triangle" has Melissa George in a modern day Sisyphus role. She's fantastic as the lead, but unfortunately the rest of the cast delivers subpar performances. Despite that, it's still an excellent film.

-Nacho Vigalondo's "Timecrimes" is a very engaging mystery/thriller, with a time travel element that's much easier to follow than in a lot of other films. There's holes in the time travel bits, but what time travel film doesn't have holes (except for "Primer" maybe... that script seems pretty tight).

-It was mentioned in earlier comments, but "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" is also a hilarious film which still holds up today. On it's surface, it seems like a dumb comedy, but the dialogue and script is actually quite intelligent. It's one where I discovered a lot of things that were brilliantly funny in a recent viewing that I didn't get as a kid. For anyone that hasn't seen this film since you were young, there's a lot to get out of it as a more intelligent adult.

AndrewPrice said...

Mark, Great list!

Thank you! I actually wanted to mention Primer in the comments but couldn't for the life of me remember the title. That was an excellent film with a really original (and believable idea regarding time travel). I definitely recommend it.

And wow, I didn't know its budget was only $7,000! I knew it was low budget, but that's incredible. And you're right, that really does show what storytelling can do compared to budget.

Bill and Ted is one of those films that works on may levels. On the one hand, it's a stupid teen comedy. But then it's also so much deeper with a lot of cool science and philosophy mixed in. It's an impressive film.

I haven't seen Triangle but I will definitely go look for it.

MarkShek said...

funny you mention the philosophy of Bill and Ted as I've considered writing about it. The simple sayings of "Be excellent to each other" and "Party on, dudes" that serve as Bill and Ted's, respectively, parting wisdom to the people from the future who view them as the Christ-like Messiahs who saved the world is something I saw as a modern-day retelling of the "Golden Rule" with an extra emphasis to enjoy life as well.

Perhaps I read to much into it, but I always found it profound that the philosophy of life could be summed up in those two simple, juvenile-sounding, phrases.

tryanmax said...

Mark, It's fun to watch Bill and Ted in a post-Matrix context because it almost makes the young Keanu Reeves seem more sagacious.

AndrewPrice said...

Mark, Actually, I don't think you're reading too much into it at all. I think the film is crawling with well-disguised "higher thought." In other words, the writer did a brilliant job of taking these scientific, theoretical and philosophical points and explaining them in very clear, very simple statements that sound like nothing more than everyday conversation. It's an impressive bit of writing.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It is funny looking back on young Reeves and comparing him to Neo... they are very different and yet strangely similar.

Interestingly, The Matrix, was finally the movie where I saw Reeves as something other than Ted.

tryanmax said...

More for the list: I really liked The Time Traveler's Wife for its original concept.

Another rather original take on time travel is Source Code although a better casting choice than Gyllenhaal should have been made.

Somehow, 12 Monkeys didn't make it into this conversation.

One film that might marginally count is Run Lola Run. Even if not, it's a good movie.

I almost forgot that Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is a time-travel movie. I luhz me some Austin Powers.

I also have to revise my earlier comment about my favorite time travel films being the ones that are pure entertainment, because I would have to say that Primer is a favorite, and it is all science-y.

BTW: Donnie Darko: overrated.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Nice list!

12 Monkeys, never heard of it?! ;)

I haven't seen Source Code yet precisely because of Jake G. I am not a fan of his politics or his acting so I tend to wait until I've gotten to the end of my "to see" list before I'll check out his films.

Yeah, Primer is a fascinating film. It's a bit of a downer, but it's really interesting. And it isn't even the issue between the characters that's the downer to me, it's the idea that time travel would only work if you have a time travel machine already running. That means we can't go back to the past-past. :(

Austin Powers is awesome!

I agree on Donnie Darko, I just never could get into that one for some reason.

ScottDS said...

I love Bill and Ted! I even remember the Saturday morning cartoon and the extremely short-lived live-action series (yes, really) with different actors.

Truth be told, I always felt the second film (Bogus Journey) was underrated. I saw it with a friend a few years ago (I hadn't seen it in years) and afterwards, we both turned to each other and I said, "This movie would never be made today!"

But going back to the first film, it really does work on a couple different levels. I'm a fan of the fake names they give to the historical figures when they're talking to Bill's mom. "This is, uh, Socrates Johnson..." etc.

"Station!!" :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The second film never really clicked with me. I don't hate it or anything, it just didn't seem to be up to the level of the first.

One of the scenes I really love in the first one is when they are breaking out of the police station and they have to remember to go back in time and set things up to occur in the present. That was a truly inspired moment in film.

Mycroft said...

Dr Who is a great show, but can also be grating after awhile. It bothers me how he often carries on like Hamlet as he sermonizes about refusing to kill the beast of the week (giant invisible chicken, etc...), but by the end of the episode the dozens of dead humans are long forgotten and no longer matter.
Still the show is entertaining enough to be worthwhile.
My first Doctor was Jon Pertwee, whom I always thought of as an engineering sort.
Tom Baker was wonderful, and more like a brilliant physicist.
The one after Baker left me cold and I quit watching until the US movie, but it was bleh.
The new series are very entertaining, though with the caveat mentioned earlier.

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, I agree about the moralizing. I know the old show did that too, but it wasn't nearly as "oppressive" for lack of a better word. In other words, while the Doctor had his rules like not killing and the such, he wasn't a fool about it and he rarely rubbed it into the audience's face. Not only did that make it less annoying, but it actually make the whole thing more powerful because when you hit that point, you knew something truly bad had happened.

In the new show, he whips that out in every episode and it starts to come across as just garbage. In fact, almost every episode of the new show ends up with a lengthy, accusatory speech in which the doctor lectures us on how morally inferior the rest of us are to him. I find that very tiring.

That said, I do like most of these episodes (some of them are in fact great), I just don't like those moments. I also don't like how often he gets away with things like "look me up in your database and then surrender"... and they do. That's a fake liberal way to end a show, by not only talking his way out of a conflict, but talking his way into an unconditional surrender by the bad guy. It's nonsense.

Also, let me add that while the show is anti-gun, the new Doctors sure uses the sonic screwdriver a lot like a gun.

As for Pertwee and Baker -- engineer and then physicist is a great way to separate them. Pertwee was very mechanical and hands on, whereas Baker was much more into theory. It's funny how you come to like them for very different reasons.

Kit said...

"I also don't like how often he gets away with things like "look me up in your database and then surrender"... and they do. That's a fake liberal way to end a show, by not only talking his way out of a conflict, but talking his way into an unconditional surrender by the bad guy."

I disagree. I don't think that's a "fake liberal way to end a show" at all.
To me that's deterrence, or "Peace through Strength". He sets them their terms: Get out or you I will remove you.
Occaisionally he might, if he feels the need, sweeten the deal by saying "I'll find somewhere else for you" but his terms are absolute: Leave now or I will make you leave.

"Look me up and you will see that I have defeated far more powerful enemies than you (Daleks). What makes you think that I won't defeat you?"
And then he might say "If you have trouble leaving I'll help you leave. But you must. leave. now!"

That is simple hostage negotiation. You point out that resistance is utterly futile while at the same time giving them an out.
Heck, Raylan Givens does this on JUSTIFIED in almost every single episode.

He shows them all the aliens who have attacked earth and asks simply "what happened to them?"

Implying, "Do you REALLY want to mess with me?"

Kit said...

And while Steven Moffat is certainly a fan of that, He has used that, I think, three times: "Forest of the Dead", "Eleventh Hour", and "Pandorica Opens", he (SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!) subverts it in "Pandorica Opens" when their retreat after his big speech ("Hello Stonehenge!") is revealed to be a feint.

Here is that speech:

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The problem I have with it is that if I'm holding a gun on the Doctor and he says "don't do it," there is no reason a genuine bad guy would quit. They'd just pull the trigger and be done with it.

"Forrest of the Dead" is a really cool episode, by the way, one of my favorites.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I've been thinking about this and you make a good point. I think I've been reading this wrong because this seemed similar to what always bothered me with Star Trek The Next Generation: they write themselves into a corner where there was no liberals solution, so they would just talk their way out of things by basically saying "come on, be a good liberal" and suddenly the bad guy would give up.

I think you're right that Doctor Who is not similar in that regard because he is essentially threatening extreme force, he's not just saying "can't we call just get along."

So I think you're right and I retract my assertion this is liberalism.


Kit said...

I have an idea on the differing natures of the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors.

And how one can see an ongoing character development of the Doctor throughout the incarnations.

I'll post it soon.

Kit said...

Okay, I accidently doubled posted.

To quote the Great Maxwell Smart of CONTROL, "Sorry about that."

AndrewPrice said...

No problem Kit, easily deleted. :)

Maxwell Smart = awesome!

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