Wanted: step-by-step instructions on time travel

I was watching Peggy Sue Got Married the other day, and got to thinking about all the different fictional representations of time travel. There are so many theories out there, some relatively believable (with at least a passing nod to real science), and some unapologetically fantastic or magical. I thought it’d be fun to compile a bunch of different methods by which one can zip through time, depending on what fictional universe you’re living in.

Anyone wanna join me? Let’s include even the completely wacko and vague theories – such as in Peggy Sue. (I’ve seen that flick dozens of times and I still can’t figure out how Peggy Sue’s grandpa and his lodge pals were planning on getting her back to the 20th Century! Assuming the whole thing wasn’t just a stroke-induced hallucination, that is.)

Here’s the sort of thing I have in mind:

Back to the Future - Requires a specially tricked-out DeLorean fueled by plutonium. Select your temporal destination, fire up the “flux capacitor,” and rev up your car to a speed of 55 MPH. Moving both forward and backward through time is possible. Recommended but optional: bring along a photograph of your current self to make sure you’re not erasing your own future.

Superman I - Use superspeed to zoom around the world in a direction opposite that of the earth’s rotation. (Backward time travel only.) Do this dozens of times and you’ll go back about 20 minutes or so. Warning: might cause parental displeasure.

Dragonriders of Pern - Atop your impressed Dragon (preferably a gold, bronze or brown), transmit to him or her the mental image of a place and time – making sure your image is specific and detailed. Your dragon will instantly take you through an ice-cold void (called “between”), after which you’ll both reappear at your destination. Warning: travelling between times is possible but very dangerous. May cause insanity. Stay away from your past self, be aware of any differences in geological or architectural structures, and for heaven’s sake don’t envision the Red Star!

Other examples?

Well, when I am refurbing or just doing regular maintenance, I regularly consult my copy of How to Build a Time Machine by Paul Davies.

I prefer to keep it simple. When I feel the need to indulge in temporal tourism, I just tell Sherman to set the Wayback machine, and voila!

According to Somewhere In Time, self-hypnosis allows you to travel backwards in time. Or at least imagine you did. Just be sure to empty your pockets before you go.

You need a big black & white spiral painted on a big round board. Mount the board upright and spin it. Now jump into the middle of the spinning spiral to follow Dr. Evil to his secret moon base.

  1. Send me lots of money.
  2. ???

Of course, there’s always the orginal: H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine.

There was an episode of Chris Elliott’s sitcom Get a Life in which he concocted a time travel drink… I don’t remember the details, though.

Those learnt experts, Drs. Calvin and Hobbes, determined three things:

  1. You can go back in time in a cardboard box,

  2. That your going backwards or forwards in time depends on what way the cardboard box is pointing, and

  3. That it takes complicated math to explain how the time machine works, so that it is best to not explain it.

Jeez! Haven’t you people ever tried to fix a defective toaster?

Time and Again – Dress in period clothing, and a location decorated appropriately for the period. Concentrate. You will find yourself in the past.

The Man Who Folded Himself – Go back in time and give yourself the time machine. Also used in " . . . And It Comes Out Here."

Star Trek – use gravitation to create a slingshot effect.

Quantum Leap – step into the Quantum accelerator – and vanish!

"Time Travel for Pedestrians by Ray Faraday Nelson – masturbate. (Though I haven’t been able to get this one to work for me.)

The most complete compendium on time travel is Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction, by Paul J. Nahin.

He covers every variant of time travel ever postulated in fiction, movies, philosophy, and science. There are zillions. When writers want a plot device, they’ll travel any lengths to get there. :slight_smile:

It’s not the most readable book ever written, and he has an obsession about the physics of timelike curves, but the compilation of stories is as complete as anybody will ever want to subject themselves to.

One of the Sleestack Obelisk from the Land of the Lost

My Favorite:
Calvin’s Transmogrifier when turned upside down made an excellent Time machine. Please ensure you bring Tiger buddy for advice and protection.

Easiest method is for Rufus to show up with his or Dr. Who in Tardis.

Austin Powers: Drive VW Beetle into past. Don’t think about details. Bonus effect: Get to shag Heather Graham.

Nitpick: It’s 88 MPH.

In the Zelda games for N64 all you need is a magic ocarina. From there it’s just a matter of which short tune you decide to play, whether you want to go back in time, jump forward in time, or change the speed at which time flows. Be careful, in certain areas going back in time has the side effect of making you lose all your money (one more reason not to carry to much cash on you).

When in your time-travelling phone booth, don’t forget to dial ONE NUMBER HIGHER!

South Park: Sing a song about going into the past and wait for the wavey lines. I think you have to hit your head also, but I’m sure someone will come along and tell me.

A slightly different twist to time travel, the Arlo Strine character from Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata is able to “fold” time, stopping it for everyone but himself, while allowing him to manipulate the environment, items, and paused humans around him.

Applications of the ability to utilize “fold powers” include facilitating a sexually provacative stop animation show of images cut from porn magazines, on a table-top, around a book that a beautiful woman is reading at the public library.

Or (my personal favorite), folding time after seeing another beautiful woman laying in the sun on the beach with her fingertips trailing in the sand. Take a few “fold days” to go back to your apartment and write a rich bit of customized erotica on paper, place the erotic story in plastic baggie, and burry the plastic baggie in the sand at the woman’s fingertips. Un-suspend time and sit a respectable distance away to observe the woman discover, read, and physically react to your writing.

Time travel is surprisingly simple. Just sit there. Wait. Wait. Wait.

See? You just traveled five seconds forward in time!

Doctor Who: Be born to a hyper-advanced race, which has invented time travel. Become bored of the scholastic interests of your race, and steal a time travel machine. Since your granddaughter is old enough to have named the things, you must be pretty danmed old. Possibly, you are actually the real inventor, but you just aren’t telling anyone.