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Monday, April 28, 2014

Back to the Futurist


Sure, I wrote a time-travel story once (link) but I think of the whole sub-category as a cheat. A writer sits in his/her garret (or more likely in front of a computer screen at work,) and tries to come up with an idea for a new story.
The muses – usually so chatty, are off by the pencil sharpener putting tips on the dry-erase markers.
Parenthetically () the reason all successful writers HATE the question, “where do you get all your ideas,” (non-successful don’t hate that question because nobody bothers to ask them,) is (still following me?) that most writers have no flicking idea where they get their ideas. Some writers have a tangible inspiration, a dog, a child, a 67 mustang,
but most writers get their ideas while waiting for the microwave, or while shampooing their facial hair, and that’s all they know.
“Yes, Oprah, my prize-winning novel came to me while I was conditioning my nose-hairs one day.”
So while his nose-hairs are sufficiently conditioned, and the muses are busy making mischief with the office supplies, the supposedly brilliant writer is left with the vacant vault known as his imagination.
“Oh!” he says to himself, thereby confirming the opinion among his coworkers that he is instable and creepy, “George Washington!” He then giggles to himself as he writes a crappy little story about going back in time to bring a 1973 Volkswagen Super beetle to George Washington at Valley Forge so the father of our country can zip around at amazing speeds to surprise the British at Trenton. Of course the beetle runs out of gas at the banks of the Delaware, and the next filling station is a hundred and thirty years away (even further is the VW takes unleaded,) so George gets into the boat to cross the river. The intrepid first-person-point-of-view character takes a picture of the scene with a Swinger Polaroid camera he finds in the back seat.
Not very original (except the Swinger camera bit.)

Then there’s the character that goes back in time to correct something – a murder, a missed opportunity, the acting career of Pauli Shore, and having thought he succeeded finds the world he returns to so changed that he longs to lose himself in Bio-Dome – or maybe Encino Man (a time travel story – in a way.)

Never saw that one coming.
Then there are the moving ahead time-travel stories that always place the character in either a Jean Luc Piccard utopia, or Mad Max dystopia. Of course, rather than utopia or dystopia the future is likely to be filled with boring office jobs, and insipid television programming on six million stations that you can watch on tiny Apple products.

But history is full of stories where the future encounters the past – the barbarians over-run Rome, the Europeans over-run the Americas, the missionaries over-run native cultures. These are all stories of violence, epidemic, lost culture, and suffering.

No wonder the muses want nothing to do with them. I’d rather have points on my dry-erase markers.

Does the Swinger ad count as a vid?  Did you notice Ali Macgraw, and recognize Barry Manilow before he became obnoxious?  Not good enough?  Okay, here's the most plausible time-travel story involving George Washington I know.