I guess I should really start off by being honest and letting you know up front that there’s an underlying motive for this blog, which starts with the fact that I was just reading the April 2011 issue of Discover Magazine.
As part of a review of the forthcoming movie Source Code (scheduled to open on April), the reviewer mentioned two films of which I was previously unaware.
One of these films was Donnie Darko. The leader on Amazon starts off saying: “During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds.”
My initial reaction was “Do I really want to see yet another film about demonic-looking rabbits?” (I’ve still not recovered from “the incident” [grin]), but there are a whole bunch of reviews for this film and they all score very highly. Also, the Director's Cut version was only $13.16, so I thought “What the heck?” and ordered it. (For some reason, the Original Cut sells for $39.95, which I thought was over the top, but if you’ve seen both versions I’d love to hear your views as to which one is the one to see.)
But that's not what I wanted to talk to you about (grin). The other film was Primer, which was described (in Discover Magazine) as follows: "Despite its puny $7,000 budget, Shane Carruth’s 2004 cult classic stitched together one of the trippiest movie versions of time travel. Be prepared to watch it several times to decipher the convoluted time line.”
Now I have to say that this one really caught my eye, because I very much enjoy stories about time travel. But when I bounced over to check it out on Amazon I saw that it had a mixed bag of reviews – some folks love it while others loath it. Also, it costs $52.98, which is a price that brings tears to my eyes (and these are not tears of happiness). So I thought I’d ask around to see if anyone whose opinion I respected (that would be you, because as a reader of Programmable Logic Designline you’ve already shown yourself to be a discerning, highly-intelligent individual) had seen this film and – if so – what was your impression?
So, excluding Primer (about which I am still a little sketchy), what was your favorite time travel story of all time? I’ve not seen The Time Traveler’s Wife so I really cannot comment on that. I really liked Millennium (the movie), although that was really more of a mystery-thriller than a time travelling tale.
Of course H.G. Wells’ Time Machine is absolutely brilliant – both in book and movie form. Personally, with regard to the movie, I prefer the Original 1960s version starring Rod Taylor, but I also very much enjoyed the effects in the 2002 Remake starring Guy Pearce.
And who amongst us could forget A Sound of Thunder – the short story by Ray Bradbury, which was first published in Collier’s magazine in 1952. According to the Wikipedia, as of 1984, this was the most re-published science fiction story of all time. The idea is that a hunting party from 2055 travel back into the past on a guided safari to kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I’m drastically simplifying this, but one of the hunters leaves the designated path and kills a butterfly – when the party returns to their own time they discover that the demise of the butterfly have triggered many changes… (Someone made a film about this, but it was so bad that I don’t want to sully your eyes with a description of it here.)
Now, if we are talking about a time traveling story that (to the best of my knowledge) only ever appeared in written form, I would have to say that my all-time favorite was The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov. This is too convoluted to go into here (you’ve either read it or you haven’t), but I thought that everything about this book was very clever and thought-provoking – especially the twist at the end. The mystery to me is why no one ever made this into a movie … if they did I would be queuing outside the cinema clamoring to be let in...
But I’m sure that I’m forgetting a bunch of really amazing books and films … help me out here … which time travelling tale would you vote “#1 Of All Time”?
You've picked some good ones. I haven't read The End of Eternity for probably 25 years, but it's still fairly fresh in my memory. I'd put that very high on my list of time travel books/movies, if not number one. I think I'll hunt down a copy and read it again.
A Sound of Thunder is very good as well. I just re-read that one a few months ago while revisiting a couple of Bradbury short story collections.
The movie that comes to mind is rather predictable and campy, but I liked it. The Final Countdown. The U.S.S Nimitz gets sucked into a time vortex, arriving off Hawaii on the Eve of the Pearl Harbor attack.
There was a short-ish story I once read where we start with a young guy (call him #1) who sees a circular portal into another world.
Then another guy appears (call him #2) saying he's a later version (that is older) of #1 and saying not to go through the portal.
Then another guy appears (call him #3) saying he's a later version of #2 and telling #1 NOT to go through the portal.
There's a bit of a scuffle and #1 gets pushed through the portal.
Anyway, the bottom line is that we follow #1 as he eventually becomes #2 and then #3 and eventually #4 (who I didn't mention because it's a bit of a surprise).
Does anyone know the name of that story and the author?
A friend of mine just sent me a message saying: "I quite like Timeline by Michael Crighton, if only for his explanation of how the Young's Slits experiment works at low light levels because someone in a nearby parallel universe is also doing the experiment."
I'd forgotten about Timeline, but it is a good book.
Primer is based on a great premise, but the movie could have been so much better. Perhaps given a bigger budget? The concepts will take you a few minutes to grasp, and it will definitely make you think. Given that, it is available on Netflix if you have that, unfortunately it is only on DVD and not instant queue.
Speaking of Michael Crichton, one of his best and often unmentioned works is Sphere, of which they made a film starring Dustin Hoffman. As with all book adaptations, the book is better, but the movie is still entertaining.
I'd never heard of that, but I just Googled it and found an Entry on the Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/i5hinF).
I also looked it up on Amazon -- I just purchased the Kindle edition for $9.99, so that's what I'll be reading this weekend (isn't technology wonderful?)
I'm currently in the middle of reading "Lest Darkness Fall" L. by Sprague de Camp -- it's very interesting -- it involves a guy from "our time" being transported back to Ancient Rome.
The opposite might be "Pebble in the Sky" by Isaac Asimov which involves a guy from "our time" being transported to Earth in the far distant future.
No Time Machine book list is complete without mention of Connie Willis, winner of ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards. "Fire Watch", "Doomsday Book" and the recent "Blackout/All Clear" explore the theme of altering the past to change the present. Of course the idea is ridiculous prima face, but it makes a good framework for a discussion of predestination and the nature of Man.
It is important for us techs to pay attention to the consequences of the application of technology (H. G. Wells did this best).
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure had one of the best time travel paradox scenes ever.
Heinlein's Time Enough For Love had a few well handled time travel components.
Ian Wallace's Croyd was a time travel master and a really fast read.
Believe it or not I've never seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. As you say, Heinlein's Time Enough For Love had a bit of time travel, although that wasn't the focus of the book. And I'd never even heard of Ian Wallace's Croyd -- I'll have to look that up...
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) is a film by Stewart Raffill, which follows a couple of Navy seals who get sucked into a time vortex and into the future due to a large experiment gone wrong (i just like how a whole village gets teleported hehe)
I watched it because it had relevance to the T.V. series LOST, and it isn't bad for the time it was made.
I just discovered a nee Heinlein book I'd never heard about called "The Door Into Summer" (http://amzn.to/v1P53a). I think it's just been re-discovered and published -- it seems to be available only in electronic format -- I also found it in the iTunes Store and downloaded it to my iPad
How can you leave out the whole "1632" series by Eric Flint et al?
There's also "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything" by John D MacDonald which has a sort of time travel in it (only forward though).
I must admit that I'd forgotten about the "1632" series ... I did start reading the first one (which is sitting on the shelf behind me in my office) but I ground to a halt because I wasn't enjoying the writing (or something ... I no longer recall)
Re "The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything" - -I just looked it up on Amazon -- this looks to be a good one even though it's only available second hand -- I've added it to my ever-growing Wish List on Amazon...
...I can't wait for some money to come in (there are good months and bad months) so I can actually lay my sticky fingers on all of the juicy books I have lined up in my wish list...
I have a rule about SciFi: When they start time-travelling or alternate realities (which usually follows) the series is dead. [Star Trek] Enterprise introduced time travel in the very first episode! QED. They had all of space to explore and that wasn't enough for the first hour?!
But I digress.
The best time-travel film is "Groundhog Day". A very close second is "12:01". Both for the humor. You can't take yourself too seriously when doing time travel.
"Millenium" the book was better than the movie and "The Phildelphia Experiment" the book, NOT the movie, was also excellent.
I must admit that I loved Groundhog Day -- I have the 12:01 DVD sitting at home waiting for me to find the time to watch it.
I also loved Millenium the movie (I never read the book -- but I'm a huge fan of John Varley so I just added it to my Wish List on Amazon). Similarly I only saw the movie version of The Philadelphia Experiment...
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