Thursday, January 31, 2013

Time Travel Cognitive Dissonance

Last week I read SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE, by Graham Joyce. In this novel a girl taken by the fairies at age sixteen comes home twenty years later (present-day England), having aged only six months. Naturally she’s astonished by the changes that have happened in the world since her disappearance. One thing she notices in the first day or two that shocks her deeply is that there aren’t any telephone booths on the streets.

One of Spider Robinson's stories set in Callahan's Bar, "The Time Traveler," has no overt fantasy content. The title character has spent about that long in a South American prison (effectively a dungeon), completely cut off from the world, so when he's released it's as if he has skipped those decades. The first big shock he gets is being taken to meet the President—and finding himself shaking the hand of Richard Nixon.

If you’d had a Rip Van Winkle experience of sleeping for the past twenty years, or traveled in time from twenty years ago to the present, what change would you find most jarring?

I think I might be most amazed by the way we can find, buy, or do almost anything online nowadays. Remember when you had to go INSIDE THE BANK for all banking transactions, and they closed at 2 in the afternoon? Remember what an arduous scavenger hunt finding out-of-print books used to be? Or the contact information of a long-lost friend?

I LIKE the future.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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