Advertisement

Bookmark: Timing is everything

March 29, 2012|By Julia Keller, The Chicago Tribune

Take a minute, if you will, to consider the prominence of time travel as a theme in the arts. You don't have to be a brilliant but evil scientist huddled in a secret mountaintop laboratory, rubbing your hands together and cackling with glee as you contemplate flipping the switch on a time machine fueled by lightning bolts and filched uranium, to understand this essential truth:

Time travel captivates the imagination.

That, you scoff, is hardly news. H.G. Wells published "The Time Machine" in 1895. "Doctor Who" has been giving geeks the vapors since its 1963 inception. "Groundhog Day"(1993) is a perennial favorite. In 2003, Chicago writer Audrey Niffenegger had a hit with her novel "The Time Traveler's Wife." Computer games such as "Chrono Trigger" and "Timesplitters," introduced in 1995 and 2000 respectively, use time travel to get the action going.

But it is worth burning up a bit of that precious and non-renewable resource — time — to reflect on how contemporary creators have spruced up and redeployed this chestnut of a theme.

Advertisement

Time travel is not just for sci-fi fans anymore. It's gone mainstream — and in the process, it has acquired a poignancy and profundity that belie its roots in the "Gee whiz!" category of narratives.

Among the most celebrated books of 2011 was Stephen King's "11/22/63," which follows an ordinary man who travels back to 1963 in hopes of stopping the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"I went down with my left foot," recalls King's appealing narrator, Jake Epping, of his step backward through time, courtesy of a storage room in a dilapidated diner. "Went down with my right foot again, and all at once there was a pop inside my head, exactly like the kind you hear when you're in an airplane and the pressure changes suddenly. The dark field inside my eyelids turned red, and there was a warmth on my skin. … I opened my eyes. I was no longer in the pantry. I was no longer in Al's diner, either."

Instead, our hero finds himself tumbling back through time, determined to trip up Lee Harvey Oswald before that history-changing homicide.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles
|
|
|