Saturday, July 9, 2011

Conversations Over Time

By Kerry Schafer

It's been an interesting week here at the blog, but like Marcella, I've kind of dreaded my day to write on this topic. The truth is, I don't think about time travel very much.

Not that I don't find the topic fascinating. Some of my favorite books involve time travel.

I love Madeleine l'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and the way Charles Wallace travels from when to when with the unicorn. But much of why I love it it that Charles Wallace takes all of the risks while I curl safely up in bed reading about them.

Dirk Gently's Detective Agency - with the hilarious paradoxes it sets up - is another one of my favorites. I'm perpetually amazed by the number of people who not only have not read this book, but aren't even aware of it's existence. If I had to choose between the two Gently novels and the Hitchhiker's Guide books, I might just choose the Detective Agency and its sequel - The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

I also adore Pratchett's version of Time Travel, and the monks who manage bits of unruly time in Discworld.

But, this isn't exactly answering the question that was asked. Where would I travel in time, if I could?

My immediate reaction is one of sheer cowardice.

Shall I be safe in these travels? Will I be beheaded, enslaved, killed in an earthquake or volcano, consumed by a dinosaur? I know the perils in my own time and have come to grips with them. Navigating the social and physical elements that might want to kill me in another time freaks me out. Really - I'd much rather enjoy the vicarious adventures of a character in a book while I'm safe at home.

My curiosity, when it comes to time travel, lies in people. I should very much like to go back and have conversations with some folks - mostly writers, of course - and find out what made them tick.

Tea with Dickens, to discuss his thoughts on creating character and plot. A visit to Walden Pond for a nice long walk with Thoreau. An afternoon with Milton, to ask him how he managed to craft such long and beautiful poetry without ever seeing a word, and to find out whether his daughter resented having to write things down for him. Oh, and I would love to get in on one of those conversations between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Imagine sitting around a campfire, or in one of the Viking Halls, and listening to the wandering bard actually sing the Beowulf story.

As for the future? No thank you. I don't think it's going to be pretty. I'd really rather not know.


  1. OOOO! Viking Halls? I'm stowing away with you!

  2. There is the whole practicality of time travel. One of the things that would definitely stop me would be the itchy stuff. I saw a show on the History Channel last night that spent a fair amount of time discussing the kinds of bugs, parasites, and rodents that usually occupied an Elizabethan wig. :-S

  3. yeah, but have you ever read how many bugs, parasites and mites are in dredlocks? All perception. It would suck not to have access to antibiotics, however...