Anomaly Joe Mucks Up Space-Time
Last night’s episode of “Lost,” coupled with the realization that even though people seem to like science fiction movies, they will not support science fiction television in general (“Lost” snuck past by marketing itself as a survival/mystery plot), got me thinking. About time travel.
Never a good sign.
So let’s say time travel happens to someone, somewhere. To be clear, this is not “Someone discovers time travel.” This is an utterly random phenomenon, someone is just plucked from the present day, no warning, and planted, say 50 years ago, to pick an arbitrary point.
Now: Given the sheer amount of people there are in the world, vs. how many have actually seen/read enough science fiction stories featuring time travel, what are the odds that the person sent back in time is actually a novice when it comes to “the rules.” Really, just the one rule, best elucidated by “Futurama”‘s Professor Farnsworth:
“Don’t do anything that affects anything. Unless it turns out you were supposed to do it, in which case for the love of God. Don’t not do it!”
Nope, this guy, this time-travel newbie who’s never even seen Back to the Future Part II, let alone dealt with the ramifications of that one “Quantum Leap” where Sam leapt into Lee Harvey Oswald…THIS is the guy who ends up 50 years ago.
I don’t know the mathematical odds of this guy (we are calling him Anomaly Joe for now) getting picked over someone who actually takes time-travel lessons from a cartoon show, BUT I think I have a pretty good idea of the odds that Anomaly Joe will get it into his head that he could do something to improve his station in life, if and when he gets back to his present: Pretty Damn Good to One.
Now let’s say this freak occurrence happens again (just…just go with me, here). And again. And again. Let’s say there’s a dozen of the Anomalies (Joe, Flo, Moe, and, again playing the odds here, Lee) before an actual sci-fi viewer (Anomaly Wayne) gets his turn at bat. And sure, when he gets there, he thinks, “Okay, I’m just gonna find myself a cabin in the woods and sit there and not do ANYTHING until things sort themselves out.”
Well, good effort, Anomaly Wayne, but your inadvertent extended family of time-travelers has spent decades (relatively speaking) screwing with the time-space continuum because they were never warned that, as good as the idea might sound, trying to assassinate Hitler could have some unforeseen consequences.
Now let’s assume that Time is a little more fluid than Professor Farnsworth (or our “Lost” science-hero Daniel Faraday) might have assumed. The Anomaly Family has been making little dents in the way things were supposed to go…and it’s affecting the rest of us here in the present.
Little things, things we wouldn’t be able to perceive, maybe. Cars are 50 feet further down the road than where they should’ve been, causing an accident, killing someone who might’ve been vital to the future in who knows what way. A lotto ticket that should’ve gone to some down-on-his-luck fella goes instead to Anomaly Moe’s great-grandson. A numbers-crunching bottom-liner is put in charge of the Fox Network, instead of someone more willing to nurture shows that are struggling in the ratings. The only dedicated science fiction cable channel decides to rebrand because it doesn’t want to be the nerdy kid at the Viacom luncheons anymore.
I’m just picking at random, here.
Time is twisting around us like stomach acids after a night of overly-spicy chili (if there even IS chili, after Anomaly Flo decides to teach southwestern cowboys how to cook out on the range – NO! can’t think like that! Chili still exists…for now!). And we can’t see it. But things aren’t the way they should be. And who knows how long before all this shuffling around starts to do some REAL damage.
I mentioned last week that the History Channel keeps airing end-of-the-world scenarios like roving black holes and Terminators (still fortunately a distant worry, since they don’t have that synthetic skin trick figured out yet). Well, there’s one they hadn’t asked Stephen Hawking to worry about – underprepared time-travelers.
Anomaly Joe probably had something to do with that too, I’ll bet.