Of course you are going to kill Hitler.
September 7, 2009 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Timelines: Time Travel in Popular Film and TV is a beautiful visualization of that most favored science fiction gimmick. For a more thorough, but less pretty, view of science fiction that messes with history, there is a chronology of when 1,800 different alternate history stories deviate from our own time line. Also, a brief look at the logic of time travel in science fiction, and how it should work.
posted by blahblahblah (15 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
One early morning before class started, I had a great conversation with my American History teacher about the Planet of the Apes series of films. I drew a diagram on my textbook cover which looked something like this but more rudimentary. Man, I wish I still had that. He was a damn cool teacher, btw.
posted by GavinR at 9:15 PM on September 7, 2009

I didn't haven't already read this twice before.
posted by yhbc at 9:17 PM on September 7, 2009

Where we're going we don't need roads...
posted by GavinR at 9:21 PM on September 7, 2009

The visualization is "beautiful" -- well sinuous, anyway -- but the curves don't seem to add anything explanatory, they seem to merely be there to look pretty, and the whole thing is pretty hard to read.
posted by orthogonality at 9:47 PM on September 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

The visualization is missing two TV shows. One would be a spoiler, so I see why they left it out, the second, well, where when hasn't the Doctor gone?
posted by Hactar at 10:11 PM on September 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm writing a time-travel screenplay and recently ran across this related topic - whether to even try to explain how the magic happens in the story.

in the movie Groundhog Day, it is never explained why Bill Murray’s character is stuck in a time loop.

Yes, the emotional reason is clear: he’s a selfish asshole, and needs to learn to be less of one. But the actual supernatural mechanism is never part of the movie. There’s not a magic clock, or a nuclear wristwatch. Punxsutawney Phil isn’t secretly a wizard.

Rather, weatherman Phil Connors is stuck in a time loop because, well, he is. We buy it, and we don’t demand further explanation.1

posted by NorthernLite at 10:16 PM on September 7, 2009

What? No Primer ?
posted by johnstein at 11:54 PM on September 7, 2009

I have a feeling this is going to absorb a much-too-large portion of my day today. Great post.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 5:15 AM on September 8, 2009

Is this where we derail the thread with a conversation on how awesome "Yiddish Policeman's Union" was? It's like the whole "alternate timeline" genre was invented for the purpose of this novel, and the warn-nerd posturing that typically infects alternate-history novels merely there to highlight the depth and power the concept has by being completely absent of any depth or power. Chabon took straw and spun it into gold.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:48 AM on September 8, 2009

the whole thing is pretty hard to read

No kidding. Cool post, but I agree. Graphs and charts can pack in a ton of information and look good (a lot of National Geographic visuals come to mind) but this is more like Wired Infoporn, which never imparts any information that I can tell but is just a reason to play around with fonts and designs.

Also, Groundhog Day is great, and needs no explanation of mechanism.
posted by freecellwizard at 6:49 AM on September 8, 2009

Also, Groundhog Day is great, and needs no explanation of mechanism.

Groundhog day can be the most depressing movie ever if you're in the right mood. He's stuck forever until Andie MacDowell likes him. *shudder*.
posted by The Whelk at 8:19 AM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

H.G. Wells ftw. Which prompts me to mention that if this graph included written sf it would be a whol ehell of a lot more complex.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:35 AM on September 8, 2009

here is the thing, now
We got In, not enough time
as it turns out, damn.

We followed you
all the way In, but of course
can only watch as you....

Passing yourself gets
old pretty quickly, really
you don't even wave.

Time as fluid as
ripples in a silver bowl,
one never returns.

I brought you back from
the bridge, your faraway eyes
you still died, grinning.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:14 AM on September 8, 2009

Cannot resist posting time-travel humor:
everybody kills Hitler on their first trip.
posted by lholladay at 10:46 AM on September 8, 2009

From the infoporn link, if Buck Rogers is, indeed, in the 25th century, wouldn't the year be 2600, not 2500?

Seems like a silly thing to mess up.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:19 AM on September 9, 2009

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