I’ve seen many SF books/movies/TV shows that feature time travelers going back to major historical events and attempting to avert or alter them. Preventing the Kennedy assassination is a very popular trope, as is altering the U.S. Civil War, WWII/Hitler, and others.
Have there been any time travel works that depict attempts to alter more recent events than the Kennedy assassination? Something like 9/11, invasion of Kuwait, invasion of Iraq, breakup of the USSR, Bosnian War, Kosovo, either invasion of Afghanistan, OKC bombing, Chernobyl, Shuttles Challenger or Columbia, Three Mile Island, Florida 2000, etc. Come up with your own list of relatively recent things a time traveler from somewhere near our time or the far future might want to alter or prevent.
Or are all of those kinds of things just too soon, too raw in the public psyche that no writer or producer has given them a go? Just wondering. Excepting a couple amateur online stories, I haven’t seen anything else post-JFK.
The new season of Fringe seems to be heading in this direction (re: 9/11). I admit that I’m a pretty casual watcher of the show and I think that it may be some kind of “parallel universe” rather than time travel, though.
In Thrice Upon a Time by James P. Hogan (1980), a new type of atomic reactor accidentally creates kazillions of micro black holes which threaten to tear the Earth apart. The plucky heroes must race back in time to thwart the disaster–well, maybe not race, exactly…
It’s a fictional event, of course, and not perfectly analogous to some people’s fears about the Large Hadron Collider, but it’s the best I’ve got.
Quantum Leap, maybe? I don’t know if Sam altered any real-world historical events post JFK, but he was there for that one preventing Jackie from getting killed too I seem to recall he had make sure things went right for one guy so his kids could be Gulf War heroes or something. I don’t know if that fits the criteria for you.
The original Star Trek had the Enterprise go back in time to the present (late 1960s) – once by accident and once deliberately.
In the episode where the Enterprise went back accidentally, Kirk beamed abaord a fighter pilot whose yet-to-be-born son would eventually become a big shot space explorer. In the other episode, the journey in time inadvertantly triggered a series of events that put the timeline back on the right course.
The problem with time-traveling to the too-recent past is the difficulty in figuring out where the revised timeline will take you. A time traveler could go back and prevent 9/11, thus avoiding the war in Iraq, but where do we go from there?
The time machines in Primercan ONLY send you back to the near past. You switch one on, let it run for a while, then get in and switch it off. As it powers down it moves you backwards in time to the point where you switched it on. And it takes you just as long to go backward as it did to go forward.
The Time Traveler’s Wife involves time travel within a narrow range covering the recent past and a bit of the future; essentially, only within the lifetimes of one person and those he loves. The traveler can have some limited effect on the course of things but doesn’t try to go after big events. (September 11 is mentioned). He doesn’t control the time travel so he isn’t really ‘going back’ to try and change things. But since he’s traveled to the future and spent time there he’s clearly aware of what will happen.
You know, I’ve always wanted to write a short story where, basically, the hero finds a group of time travelers. He asks them why they don’t do more to avert disasters such as 9/11 and the shuttle explosion; why they don’t do everything they can to make this world as perfect as possible. They explain that they do- this *is *the best possible world. Averting those disasters would’ve resulted in an even worse situation.