|1949 cover art by Earle Bergey|
I've long been saddened by the silly hand-waving that so many authors have seen fit to place inside their time travel stories.
|Book cover. Click image to enlarge.|
I was horrified to discover that 'The Time Axis' uses the same "reasoning" as Arrival for why we primitive Earthlings would suddenly be contacted by super sophisticated folks from the far future.... they need our help! This sort of plot element was dismaying for me when I first saw it E. E. Smith's Lensman Saga. There, I was asked to believe that the hyper-advanced Arisians had brought humans into existence in order to defeat the evil Eddorians.
For me, the best part of reading old stories such as 'The Time Axis' is when I suddenly find myself imagining that unexplained plot elements back in the Golden Age could now be explained in terms of new concepts like virtual reality and nanotechnology. The "nekron" that is haunting Humanity of the future in 'The Time Axis' is described as a "new form of matter", but it sounds like a form of gray goo. According to Kuttner, "nekron" is also some evil lifeform.
Similarly, the strange future world with "mechandroids", where the enchanting girl "Topaz" (that's her on the Earle Bergey cover, above) must go to the "Swan Garden" for a tune-up in order to once more have the stars put into her hair, is easy for me to imagine as a kind of virtual reality environment, a place where the last city of Mankind is a kind of museum where people no longer live.
More Time Travel
"Vintage Season" - 1946. This was the first story by Kuttner that I ever read (back in the 1970s). I read it in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Time travelers from the future arrive, trying to get good seats for seeing meteor strike that will destroy a large city. Apparently this story was largely written by Moore.
"Time Locker" - 1943 - This is a silly fantasy in which a drunk invents a magic "time travel locker" that shrinks objects. A crook buys the locker for 6 credit$ and uses the locker to hide stolen money. He manages to kill himself before he learns that objects placed in the locker first disappear then re-appear in the future.
|The Time Trap|
"The Time Trap" - 1938 - I have not read this story, but apparently it was "sexed up" before publication and it has managed to offend many readers ever since.
|In the Ekcolir Reality.|
Original cover art by Norman Saunders
and see this
Several times in the middle of 'The Time Axis' I thought Kuttner might tell us that we has slipped into an alternate Reality. If I read the story correctly, there was only one Reality Change, that created the new universe at the end of the story. What if Kuttner, in our Reality, was just a remnant echo of an actual time traveler in an earlier Reality?
Special thanks to Miranda Hedman for the DeviantArt stock photograph "Black Cat 9 - stock" that I used to create the green "sedronite" who is in the image to the right.
Next : future science fiction.
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