The big question regarding time travel is, of course, "if
it's possible to travel through time, then why aren't there
spandex-clad time tourists hanging around today?" After all, time travel
by definition involves the present and past as well as the future, so
either all time travelers from all the untold ages of
available time travel have shown superhuman levels of
discretion and caution, or they haven't made it back here.
It will not come as a surprise to our regular readers that we've
come up with an answer to this conundrum.
If we know one thing about time travel from watching cable, it's that
given the opportunity, someone will always travel back in time change
things, whether to prevent
World War II, or start World War III, or save Lois Lane from an unpleasant
death. Whenever this takes place, we end up with a different
timeline, presumably one in which someone different decides to
kill someone's parents before they're born or whatnot, which creates yet
another timeline, which is wiped out by someone else's
temporal shenanigans, and so on like a four-dimensional
How many times does this take place? It's impossible to say. As each
timeline is created it's instantly replaced, and you can't get
a thing done without finding out that your brother is suddenly your
aunt, and rather than being a VCR repairman you're Squindar, Lord
of the Under-realm. It is for measurements such as these that
the word "bazillion" was created.
The only way reality can exist for more than an instant is when
someone, by accident or design, changes things to create a universe
where time travel is never discovered. And that, my friends,
is where we are now. Time travel may be possible, but anyone who
tries to discover it will fail, probably due to a misadventure of ludicrous
So the next time you read about an eminent physicist buried alive in
a tragic pudding-transport accident, or you're distracted once again
from your experiment to see what would happen if
you hooked all the Swatches left over from the eighties up to
one of those new cars with the computerized mapping software, remember:
it's all for the best.
[Addendum: Soon after I first published this piece, several readers
wrote in to point out that this theory was first put forth by Larry Niven
over thirty years ago, only without the part about the Swatches. I can
only plead ignorance, given that I've never read the essay in question
and came up with the idea all by my lonesome while playing "Ape Escape."
It could be worse; I could be inadvertently recycling old Piers Anthony