Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Set The WABAC Machine For...

Today, Konstantin invites us all to ponder the question:

If you had a time machine where would you travel first?

Well, first of all, since I'm such an ass, I'm duty-bound to pick nits and point out that the proper question would be when would you travel first. Setting that aside though, I'll admit that his ideas have definite merit. So does Ilya's take on the question.

Myself? While there are just tons of people, places and events I'd love to witness, I have to admit that I'm a creature of comfort. We live in a time and place which has a achieved miracles in the area of personal convenience. Is this a non-sequitur? Not at all.

Sure, it would be great to go back and meet William Shakespeare. Find out if he really wrote all that stuff himself? See one of his plays performed for the first time? Those may be excellent goals, but the thing that I imagine is the Godawful stink of England in the 16th Century. I have a deep abiding affection for indoor plumbing and toilet paper. And another thing. Just tell me you understood Shakespeare the first time you read him. I sure as hell didn't. If you're anything like me, you had to have that stuff explained to you line by line. And what he wrote was at least close enough to how people spoke that even the illiterate masses understood his plays. Hell, I don't even understand modern Brits, much less whatever those guys were speaking.

Let's take this thought just one more step. Most of the interesting stuff in history involves people heroically overcoming incredible danger, hardships and privation. There are wars and famines and volcanoes erupting. The Old West was full of people shooting each other over who got to sleep with the whore who hadn't had a bath in 3 weeks. Christopher Columbus spent weeks having no idea whether or not he'd ever see land again. Witches were exonerated only if you threw them into a lake and they drowned. You could die from getting sneezed on.

C'mon guys! History is a foul, horrible place. And they didn't even have air conditioning. And the future? The future is just that place where everybody thinks you're a fucking moron because you can't figure out how to call anyone. You don't know how to cross the street (if you can figure out what their version of a street is in the first place.) And back to the concept of indoor plumbing? I sure as hell don't want to ask someone how to flush that thing.

Time travel? Fuck that. I've just gotten beyond the point where my laptop was just a shiny typewriter. Here's my take on the whole subject. There are a bunch of things in the past and the future that I'd like the real story on. Many of them are things I can make some money by knowing about. I will happily sign on for a partnership with any of you who are willing to time-travel. You can take a digicam with you and I'll sit through hours of footage with you when you get back.

And why, you may ask, should you be willing to experience all the risk and discomfort only to split the take with me while I sit comfortably in the here and now? Well, it's my damn time machine. In fact, I was going to do this as a 50-50 split, but I've decided I'll take 70% until you bring something other than your reckless disregard for personal safety to the mix.

I think that's fair.

P.S. Don't you dare step on any butterflies while you're back there in the past. I will not tolerate you messing around with my present!


Ilya said...

Keep shouting to the world about our time machine and see how much of the proceeds I leave you, if any, loudmouth.

Jeff Hentosz said...

I was going to join in Konstantin's discussion of this, but your take is more to my point.

I've thought about this, actually. The time I'd most like to go to is the middle of the 19th century. I'd like to see Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia just before modernity and industry began to impose cultural homogeneity and accelerate decay. Not only would language not be a problem (I'm sure I could talk like Mark Twain, if not Charles Dickens), but because of the first blush of industry, I will be able to see it all in a train like Jim West and Artemus Gordon used.

Crave adventure but need comfort? Problem solved.

John the Scientist said...

I'm kinda with Jeff. But I have 3 things in my favor for traveling in the past.

1. I have a poor sense of smell.

2. I grew up around big animals, so what smell does get through doesn't really bother me.

3. I'm a chemist. I can make a living pretty much anywhen by showing people how to blow shit up more efficiently.

John the Scientist said...

Oh, yes, and did you know that 19th century look at the future of New York said that the city could not grow much larger because growth was limited by how far you had to drag the horse shit out of the city before you got to the dumping grounds? If the dump was too far away, the shit would pile up faster than the carts could carry it away.

Can you imagine a NYC with open sewers and powered by horses? THAT smell might even get to me.

Some dude stuck in the Midwest said...

Well, i guess the thread has been officially hijacked.

You know something messirs Sci-Fi writers, always wanting to change stuff to your comfort, how about simple observations?

And yes, MY TIME MACHINE will have air filters, invisibility field, have good plumbing, a vending machine, use sustainable power, and come with a pair of fuzzy dice on the dashboard.

Nathan said...

Well, as they say Konstantin,


Random Michelle K said...

The only way I'd want a time machine would be if it operated so I could see but not interact (and they couldn't see me). I'd love to see what Cleopatra really looked like, and take a glimpse at the library at Alexandria and see how my Eastern European ancestors lived centuries ago (I've read that Polish nobles wore mohawks.)

vince said...

I'll do something about this on my own blog, but a chance to hop around time like Lazarus Long? Hell, yeah!

Nathan, for all your sterling qualities (and you have many), sometimes you're just a wuss.

neurondoc said...

Nice concept. Besides all of the regular stuff (the Library at Alexandria, the Colisseum in Rome, the fuss about Jesus, etc), I'd like to see my parents and grandparents before they had kids/when they were kids... Now that would be interesting.