Ultimate Time Travel
Books, Movies, TV Shows and Everything Time Travel


Classification: Future Reality

 

The protagonist of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is Captain William Anthony “Buck” Rogers, a NASA pilot who flies an experimental shuttle in 1987. But a life support failure causes him to freeze – enter suspended animation – only to be successfully revived 500 years afterwards, in the 25th century (specifically, the year 2491).

 

After recovering from the shock of discovering everyone he has ever known is dead, Buck starts exploring the new world of the 25th century, and this is the focus of the show. Buck’s pilot and military training immediately qualify him to serve in the Earth Defense forces. Together with Colonel Wilma Deering, they embark on numerous adventures whose goal is saving the world.

 

As Buck finds out, much has changed in this time: the Earth is now a member of an interstellar empire controlled by Humans, and alien species – both friendly and hostile – have been long discovered. Unfortunately, the world is still a dangerous place. Thus, Buck often embarks on various missions to save the Earth from the series’ main villain, Princess Ardala – A ruthless (and yet attractive) maniac who wants nothing except to conquer the Earth and make Buck her mate [very 70s, I know]. There are other villains, of course.

 

Later on, Buck embarks on a space mission whose goal is looking for lost ‘pockets’ of humanity that have been in hiding since the nuclear war that has occurred on Earth in the 20th century.

 

During his adventures, Buck is brought in contact with various friends and foes: Hawk, an bird-like alien who’s the last surviving member of his species. Crichton, an arrogant Robot. There was also this weird alien creature that could ‘phase’ – and pass through living object (he used to be my favorite) – can’t remember how he was called, but he always used to freak me out.

 

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is one of the TV shows I grew up on as a kid, so it’s possible this review is somewhat biased. It is also possible I’d view it differently if I were to watch it now. But as a kid, I absolutely loved every single aspect of the show: the adventures, the characters, the new universe, the fact Buck is 500 years away from home. It was all so super-cool. Not to mention that I used to think that Buck is the epitome of what a guy should be (hey, I was 7), and had an early crush on Col. Deering (well she WAS very pretty).

 

Since this show was made in the 70s, it is similar to many other sci-fi shows of the time, for better or worse. i.e. Buck has a new girl every episode, though Colonel Wilma Deering is always the ‘true love’ just waiting for him.

 

In Summary: I can’t promise the show has aged well – though I remember it as a wonderful, creative and fun TV show I used to look forward to every week. I’m pretty sure I would still get a kick out of watching it now (I’m actually thinking of ordering the DVD.. hmm). If you’re in your late 20s and above, you’re probably going to love the show. Younger audiences might feel it is somewhat outdated.

 

By the way, I always felt Farscape (that fantasticSci-Fi show was in one large homage to Buck Rogers – even the into was very similar to Buck Rogers’ intro. Now that was one good show).

 


Link to the DVD of the entire series on Amazon

 

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Classification: Future Reality

 

Idiocracy begins when Corporal Joe Bauers, an average soldier (”Joe Average”), is picked for a top secret special experiment. And when I say average, I mean – scientifically average, on every conceivable scale. An additional participant in the experiment is Rita, a prostitute trying to run from her pimp (”Upgrayedd”).

 

As Joe finds out, because he has no family and no attachments, he could be put in a special hibernation device, in which he will sleep for exactly one year, and then wake up. The goal of this study is to enabling soldiers to stay dormant for long periods of time – something the military could find useful.

 

Agreeing to this deal, Joe goes to sleep. But unfortunately, the project gets abandoned somewhere down the road, and 500 years pass before he and Rita are revived – even this occurs purely by accident (the “Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505″).

 

After waking up, Joe is unsure what is going on. Feeling he should see a doctor, he goes to a hospital. But the hospitals are quite different from what he’s used to: the clerk uses a machine to diagnose him – one that is oddly similar to a McDonalds food order machine – and the Doctor’s diagnosis is simply that he’s “fucked up”.

 

Unhappy with this resolution, Joe quickly discovers he’s in bigger trouble. Unfortunately, he has no way to pay for the services he received, and is also no longer marked as a citizen. As a result, Joe is rapidly put on a trial, is found guilty, and finds himself in prison.

 

As Joe slowly discovers, the world of the 26th century is not what we have been dreaming about. It’s a world where commercialism and anti-intellectualism have been allowed to continue in their present trajectory. A world where literally, every single person is an utter idiot. Although the film does mock the future culture, this is not a slapstick comedy – the portrayal of the future is consistent and is quite serious when one thinks about it.

 

This world is in complete disrepair: enormous mountains of garbage, collapsing skyscrapers, food shortages – this is not because people don’t care (though they don’t seem to care much about anything except television), but because they simply don’t know how to maintain things anymore. For example, at some point Joe finds out that the food shortages are a result of the crops dying – which occurs because they are being watered with Brawndo, a Gatorade like futuristic beverage. When he suggests replacing this with water everyone protest because “It has electrolytes!” (they don’t know what it is, when he asks).

 

But Joe has one big advantage. In the 26th century, he is literally the smartest person alive – much smarter than anyone else. Joe must figure how to use his awe-inspiring intellect to get out of this predicament, and find a way to return to the past (his defense lawyer, Frito Pendejo, told him that one such “Time Machine” exists).

 

Although Idiocracy is in many ways the ultimate Dystopia, it gave me a chilling feeling that it is not that far fetched. The film examines the theory that we – humanity as a whole – are getting dumbed down as there’s no more evolutionary pressure exerted on us. Furthermore, as the modern intelligent person often doesn’t have time for making kids, and if he does, it’s only one or two, the overall result is increasingly levels of stupidity in the population.

 

The portrayal of the future felt very convincing, and even though the movie didn’t obviously try to be perceived as a comedy (although it clearly is), there are numerous moments that are purely hilarious. For example, in the 26th century, the best movie of the year is called “Ass”, and is simply a 90 minute movie about a person’s ass which occasionally farts. It gets absolute roars in the movie theater, and wins an Oscar.

 

Mike Judge, the creator of this movie (and of the fantastic Office Space – which unfortunately I can’t review since it has no Time Travel elements), has crafted a sharp satire about the way society is deteriorating. Although I believe (and dearly hope!) he’s mostly wrong, some of what we see in the future he suggests feel all too possible.

 

My summary: In general, I felt this is an excellent movie, and I really enjoyed it. That being said, I’m not entirely certain why it wasn’t more successful. Although at times it feels that many of the jokes repeat themselves, I doubt this is the reason. Oh well. Idiocracy is a funny, sharp and witty satire: highly recommended!

 


Link to the DVD’s details on Amazon.com

 

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aworldoutoftime

Classification: Future Reality

 

After finding out he has terminal cancer, Jaybee Corbell decides to place himself in suspended animation in the hope that in the future it will be possible to revive him and cure his cancer. After all, he is only in his mid 40s, and surely in the future it’ll be a simple matter to cure him. 200 years pass, and Jaybee wakes up in a world very different from what he remembers – strangely, in a body not his own.

 

As Jaybee quickly finds out, in the 22nd century, the world is controlled by a single totalitarian government, and he does not have any rights anymore. In fact, he has only been brought back from the dead (his consciousness placed in the body of a mindwiped criminal) to perform a task as ‘payment’ for his resurrection. His mission: pilot a spaceship towards unknown space, and find planets suitable for terraforming. He is informed that unless he complies, a different consciousness will be placed in the body he occupies – effectively, destroying everything that’s left of him.

 

Jaybee pretends to be complying, but when he is certain he could no longer be stopped, he redirects his spaceship towards a black hole in the center of the galaxy. His goal is to benefit from relativity, that is, reach a a spatial area where time travels slower in relation to normal space. Ideally, this will propel him enough into the future that he could return back without any repercussions.

 

His attempt is a success and when he finally reaches Earth, he finds out that 3 million years have passed. However, in this time the Earth has become a much worse place than it was before. In this terrible future, the Earth is controlled by the Boys, the immortal descendants of humanity (who look like children) who capture him. What will he do? I don’t want to spoil the book, so read the book to find out.

 

This is one of the first time travel books I’ve ever read, and I consider it one of the classics. It has many of the ingredients necessary for a good time travel story: a diverse journey to the future (or the past), interesting setting/s, and a driven protagonist. Although the book does suffer from a malady many other older science fiction novels suffer from, namely, poor characterization, it still makes a very fun read and is highly enjoyable.

 

In summary: Not Niven’s greatest creation (that would be “The Mote in God’s Eye”), but still an excellent book, I recommend this to anyone who wants to a light read and does not expect a masterpiece.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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thefirstimmortal

Classification: Future Reality

 

The First Immortal is a speculative, 200 year saga, describing events that take place between the years 1925 and 2125.

 

It is the end of the 20th century. Dr. Ben Smith, suffers a terrible heart attack which does not kill him, but leaves him in a fragile state. Refusing to accept the fact his days are numbered, and a firm believer in cryogenics, Ben decides to have himself frozen until a future time which will be able to fix his heart. After Ben is frozen, a legal battle ensues because his children each claims to get his trust fund that is supposed to take care of Ben’s body and pay for his future revival.

 

[As you probably know, Cryogenics aims to do just that: have people freeze their bodies or only their heads (the price is different), in the hope that at some time in the future, the technology - and the willingness - to revive them will exist. The Author, James Halperin, appears to be a big believer in Cryogenics. Anyway, I digress.]

 

83 years pass and Ben wakes up, a mechanical heart ticking in his chest. The world he finds is very different from the place he left: disease has been conquered and people no longer need to age. Thus, he becomes what is described in the book’s title: The First Immortal.

 

The book is very well written. The plot is strong, and the characters are fully fleshed. I liked the sheer scope of the novel, which follows Ben’s family for several generations. That being said, what I particularly liked is the future it paints. Clearly the author has done his research on cryogenics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. Although probably too optimistic, the future he describes sound generally plausible, and I could really imagine it eventually happening. In many ways it reminded me of some parts of Ray Kurzweil’s wonderful The Age of Spiritual Machine (unsurprising consider the author is an aspiring futurist).

 

I know some people felt the book is just a way for preaching cryogenics, and as a result, did not enjoy the book at all. Although I agree with the claim that the book preaches cryogenics, I can’t say it bothered (or convinced) me – I simply enjoyed the entire package.

 

To summarize: if you like books that combine technology, science and story, and you are not turned off by the concept of cryogenics, you’ll probably find this book appealing.

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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thedoorintosummer

Classification: Future Reality

 

Set in “future” 1970 (as the book was written in 1957), The Door Into Summer introduces us to Dan Davis, one of the greatest electronics engineers alive. Dan’s latest invention is a sophisticated household robot which will dramatically change life for the housewife at home. [Note though this was publishable in the 50s, I doubt anyone would write things like that today]. Just before he is able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, Dan is tricked by his business partner, Miles, and fiancee out of business. Even worse, the two betrayers inject him with a drug and put him in suspended animation for 30 years.

 

30 years pass, and Dan wakes up – penniless and feeling betrayed. Determined to make a new life for himself, Dan starts catching up on new technologies and finds a job. However, he never forgets the betrayal. And so, because the engineer in him never sleeps, he eventually manages to build a time machine – which he decides he’ll use to get back in time and exact revenge on the two people who have stuck the knife at his back.

 

The Door Into Summer is considered by many to be one of the finest time travel novels ever written. Honestly, I think it is a good novel, particularly when one considers the year it was written in, but I don’t think it meets the higher standards by today’s science fiction novels: The story is decent, but nothing spectacular.

 

As for character development, well, one of the common problems with science fiction books written in the 50s and before is character development. Although to some extent it is a problem today as well, it seems that back then creating believable characters was never an important consideration when writing science fiction. The Door into Summer is a perfect example: the characters are all exaggerated cliches of the role they play. If this were the goal then that could be fun, but it’s so clearly not the intention.

 

Note that one of my favorite aspects of this book – and all older science fiction – is seeing the futures they envisioned, and how they differ from the real world. In this book, the future was 1970, and the far future was 2001. Although we’re already 8 years after 2001, we still do not have robots that do everything, nor do we have suspended animation or self driving cars (at least we’re getting closer to those!), and that sort of thing. Yet we do have amazingly complex computers, we have the internet, we have stem cell research, we have iPods and HD Television – and plenty of other things that could not have been predicted back then. Anyway, I digress – this is just an anecdote I find interesting.

 

To summarize: if you like golden age science fiction, you’ll love this novel. But if poor characterization or old science fiction irritates you – skip this one. Just remember – you may be missing out!

 


Link to the book’s details on Amazon.com

 

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tomorrowandtomorrow

 

Classification: Future Reality

 

I really hesitated whether I would give this novel a chance after reading the frustrating “The Mind Pool” by Charles Sheffield, which started excellent, but ended in such a big mess. But then I figured he deserves another chance…

 

Tomorrow and Tomorrow started really well: the story is set at the end of the 20th century and follows the tale of Drake Merlin, a musician and a composer. Drake and his wife, Ana, live a happy life. Both do not pursue money or power but instead concentrate on their professions (Ana is a singer), and live in bliss. But this doesn’t last for too long, as Ana contracts a strange and lethal disease, leading to her death in a fairly short period of time. Drake is heartbroken, but decides not to despair. He contacts a company called “Second Chance”, and freezes Ana in a cryotomb – hoping that sometime in the future, the technology would be available to revive her and cure whatever she has.

 

Drake spends the next few years accumulating knowledge which he figures will be very useful in the future. He also works hard to make a lot of money, so he could afford keeping Ana frozen for a long period of time, and also afford to freeze himself. Drake hopes that in some time in the future, both of them will be revived, Ana be cured, and they can continue their life. His love for Ana is very strong, and he is determined not to give up.

 

The time comes, and Drake is frozen. When he wakes up, 500 years have passed – and the world is a totally changed place..

 

Things don’t go as smoothly as Drake had hoped. I won’t spoil the plot, but I will say that this is not the last time Drake is frozen and thawed after sleeping for many years. This occurs, in fact, several more times, each ending in a future even farther away.

 

What I described so far covered exactly one half of the book, and was absolutely fantastic. The author built a completely believable future (actually, several futures), and the story was very captivating: I totally thought I had misjudged Charles Sheffield, and couldn’t put this book down.
However…
At this point in the novel, Drake wakes up, and the book takes a very strange twist. Apparently in the very, very distant future, Drake (as an “ancient and primitive human”) is needed to save the descendants of the human race, as they are fighting for their survival against a force from outside our galaxy which cannot be fathomed. Drake must take control, find out what is the problem, and then solve it. Although I’ve heard that some people have commended the accuracy of the science in this part, and I agree with this observation, it doesn’t make this part any less boring. For me it was a distraction of the main story, and frankly, I don’t think this shouldn’t have been put in the book at all.

 

I read the entire second half of the book in one long evening because I really wanted to get to the end. More specifically, I really wanted to see whether Drake and Ana are eventually reunited. Without giving any details, I’ll say that unfortunately, the ending turned out to be not very satisfying.

 

To summarize: Really two books: one fantastic, one boring. The first part is really good, but the second part might disappoint you. Overall it is still definitely worthy of a read.

 


Link to the book on Amazon.com

 

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Time Travel Movies