You’re a Newbie at Time Travel. What Do You Do First?

You’re a Newbie at Time Travel. What Do You Do First? October 25, 2012

Kill Hitler of course!  Duh!

John C. Wright needs to check this out.

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  • Niemand

    Absolutely not. Your first step is to learn something about history.

  • CJ

    I give the Byzantine Empire muskets, cannons, and observation balloons at the Battle of Yarmuk in 633.

  • beccolina

    In light of the recent political climate, wouldn’t killing Mohammed be more useful? Imagine if Islam never existed.

  • MikeTheGeek

    I’d be a bit leery of changing any historical event that took place before my birth. I might vanish, or – worse – get caught in one of those infinite time loops.

  • Will

    Obviously, you never read Alfred Bester’s classic story “The Men Who Murdered Mohammed”. You are hereby banned from ever saying or writing anything about time travel until you do!

    Myself, I would go after Freud.

    • beccolina

      Ah, man. *hangs head* never get to do nuttin’ fun.

  • Ted Seeber

    Go far enough back in time to look at what morality was *before* the agricultural revolution.

  • I completed my time machine about six months ago and have been experimenting with it. Some odd things — you actually can’t go back further than the Resurrection. Jumping back in time is akin to jumping into a New Guinean tribe and trying to slyly change its politics. You kind of stand out obviously and people seem to have an immediate, very powerful intuition that you don’t belong there. Plus, it’s really difficult to eliminate everything anachronistic when you jump.

    After a few preliminary jumps where I was practically burned at the stake merely for existing, I figured let’s try something American and within my lifetime. Given my cultural background, I thought I’d just slip into Love Field the morning of Nov. 22, 1963 and stop KGB agent Dieter Schmid from shooting JFK and LBJ, you know, to stop the chain of events that let to World War III and the destruction of Eastern Europe. (Oh right.)

    I barely got Dieter in time but the Dallas police clipped me at the scene. Since I wasn’t anticipating arrest, I was caught with a .40 Glock (OMG — you want to freak people out, get caught with a plastic Austrian pistol during the Cold War and American-made ammo in a caliber that’s not manufactured yet), a current wallet with a digital picture and magnetic strips and today’s money, with anachronistic Gore-Tex in my coat, and perhaps most stupidly, a bottle of Diet Coke. Spent six years locked away by the government while they demanded to know the future, which, I explained repeatedly, I no longer knew. They finally allowed me to handle my watch during an interrogation and I was able to zip forward in time. And anyway, it turned out there was some little punk named Lee Harvey Oswald also planning to shoot JFK down the parade route, oh yeah, you all know about that, but at least, no WWIII.

    I’ve only made one more trip — to prevent a particular hit song in the early 90s that was really annoying and created a horrible ear worm worldwide that took about two years to get out of the brain. It generated the worst loss of productivity in human history as people were endlessly distracted and created a worldwide depression. Unfortunately, it’s still in my ears. Ugh. Got another year of it and I should be free.

    • Niemand

      Tragically, IB Bill’s trip ended with him accidentally giving the band in question the idea for that particular ear worm song…

  • It confuses me as to why killing is the only possible answer in these type of questions. I mean, what if you COULD go back in time? Killing is what you want to do? How about going back and befriending a young Adolph H. and gently steering him away from the path of destruction he led. If we could go back, we should offer love and not more death. There’s a story idea for Mr. Wright!

    • Anna

      But there was one who got Hitler into the Art Academy, also deemed a non-solution…

  • Niemand

    Another idea on the preventing WWII series: Forget Hitler. Go back to the birth of Kaiser Wilhelm with anesthesia and sterile equipment. He’s born via c-section without an Erb’s palsy and birth hypoxia, doesn’t have permanent nerve damage, doesn’t feel the need to prove his manhood and WWI never happens. Or happens differently and possibly less destructively. Therefore, the reparations never happen, the hyperinflation never happens, WWII never happens.

    • World War I is the key, but I’ve got no idea how to prevent it. It’s not all on Kaiser Wilhelm … it would take 25 years of preparation building better relationships in Europe, and then you’d have to be careful you didn’t get a 1914 coup of Prussian military officers.

      • Avoiding WWII is easy…

        Delay the French possession of Corsica by a decade or prevent the Great Schism.

        Either would likely work. No Napoleon, or no West-East split, and no Crimean War… the rest follows.

        Actually, a third option for preventing WWII, prevent the birth of Islam.

  • astorian

    Killing Hitler seems like too big a step my first time out. I’d start smaller…maybe go to 1960 and tell Ralph Terry to pitch Mazeroski low and outside.

    • Yeah, because what the past needs is one more Yankees championship.

      • astorian

        Too much is never enough.

    • Niemand

      Cubs-Red Sox world series. That is all.

  • K. J.

    If you have a time machine, what does “do first” actually mean? If you decide you made a mistake, you can always go back and change it, can’t you? To the point of going back to the point where you made the time machine, and changing what your first act of time travel actually was.

    • K. J.

      That was probably not helpful, I admit.

      What would be the consequences of keeping the serpent and Eve from talking in the first place?

      • Andy, Bad Person

        It would make the Incarnation unnecessary, for one.

        O happy fault…

    • Will

      “The real problem in time travel is grammar.”

  • That. thread. was AWESOME. I love the stuff you dig up Mark. Made me chuckle this afternoon.

  • c matt

    C’mon, everybody knows what they would do first with a time machine – go back to the day prior to last night’s Lottery drawing and buy a ticket.

  • John

    I thought according to the Prime Directive, we were not supposed to alter the space time continuum! That said…I’d like to go back and un-screw up some of my own mistakes when I was a “yute”.

  • beccolina

    My actual serious answer requires some explanation: when my step daughter was just two, her mother abandoned her and her father. Since he wasn’t making much, especially after divorce and lawyer fees (And she wasn’t paying any support), his sister-in-law babysat my stepdaughter. She was very abusive and blamed his daughter for anything that went wrong in the house. Her cousins figured out really fast how to blame her for everything too.
    When I get old enough that I don’t look like my young self so much, I would go back to that time when her mother left and put myself in a position to babysit her instead, so she would have someone who would cuddle her, and read to her, and love her, until my young self comes into the picture (and I would have some words on mothering advice for her).
    Pipe dream #237 1/2

    • I don’t know if you caught this ever, but my childhood bears marked similarities to your step-daughter’s, except no abusive babysitter and no step-mom. But the needs you recognise still were not met.

      Then again, maybe that is precisely why you are so kind to me. Much kinder than i have ever deserved.

      • Actually, the abusive babysitter too. Thanks. Apparently repressed memories are real. Pray for me, you just opened a can of worms accidentally. But God draws straight wirth crooked lines,s o thank you.

        • beccolina

          Then I certainly will pray. I’ve never prayed more for anyone in my life than my stepdaughter,sometimes, I fear to admit it, in despair of change or healing for her. It sometimes sees she has resolutely set herself on a path of self-destruction and cannot be derailed. But God is not bound by the laws of time anymore than he is bound by the laws of physics or biology. He can go back to those moments in her life when she was abandoned, blamed, hurt, rejected, tormented and trodden-upon, and bring His love to her then.

          • Ted Seeber

            Here’s something that began to turn me around, though I didn’t recognize it until this last minute when you mentioned it.

            Perhaps you should give her the gift of finding a convent that offers vocation retreats. And paying for her to have a vacation on such a retreat.

            It would be another 8 years before I began to address my self-destructive sexuality, my lack of belief in the communion of saints, and discover my high functioning autism. But arguably, that was the start.

            • beccolina

              She just had a baby, though I appreciate the idea. Thankfully, she and the father are together, though they are discovering that one part-time job does not support a family, and that other jobs are hard to get without a diploma or a driver’s license. We are helping materially where we can. If we ever come to a point where she would even consider going to any such retreat (or any Christian retreat at all), we will make whatever arrangements necessary.
              This isn’t the thread, but in reference to the discussion about whether welfare or wealth creates immorality, based on what I have seen and experienced in my life, increased immorality in general increases the need for welfare in general.

  • Serious answer: I’d set up a loop where I repeatedly visited the same moment in time to build up a large number of myselves, and then I’d have a dance party.

  • I would go back and kill my grandfather when he was nine years old.

  • Noah D

    32 comments in, and I’m the first person to say the obvious?

    Fine, here it is:


  • Confederate Papist

    I’d do two things…both behind the scenes so I would not be noticed so as to not disrupt the timeline;

    First, I’d go back to when my parents met…now that my mom is gone, any time I could be in the same room as her would be great…

    Second, this is shocking to me that it is second, but I’d go back to when our Lord was being crucified and subsequently resurrected…filming it all with my smart phone of course so I can then come back to the “open minded atheists” and say, “in your face!”..

  • Thibaud

    Being a history nut, travelling back in time is of course one of my major fantasy and daydream session subject and, therefore, I have a laundry list of time travel adventure possibilities. Being a Christian, travelling back to Judea in the 30’s and becoming one of Christ’s disciples would be on the top of my list. Being French, travelling back to a time I could prevent the beginning of my country’s decline would also be an interesting possibility : jumping back to 1809, the apex of the Napoleonic Empire, in order to warn the Emperor not to commit his two greatest mistakes (the abduction of Pope Pius VII and the invasion of Russia), or better yet, jumping back to the mid-1750’s to help France win the Seven-Years War, therefore preventing the French Revolution and pretty much switching France and England’s position of power for the next 200 years (with France keeping India and taking North America from the British). But perhaps the best course of action both for my country and the entire world would be to travel back to right after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, back to 496, to help Clovis, King of the Franks and the first Barbarian King to convert to Catholicism (and not to Arianism), recreate a unified Roman Empire and expand it in Arabia, spreading Catholicism to those parts and preventing the birth of Islam AND the Great Schism between Western and Eastern Christians.

    But time travel is a risky business, so maybe I would simply make a leisure trip back to my favorite time period of all time : XIIIth century Paris, France, during the reign of King saint Louis. If I brushed off on my mastery of the Latin language, I could even try to meet saint Thomas Aquinas during one of his visit to King Louis’ court and try to strike up a conversation with him on the theology and moral of time travel.

  • Disgusted in DC

    I’d bomb the sealed train carrying Lenin from Zurich to Russia. Either that, or assassinate Queen Elizabeth I before the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Decisions, decisions.