Generally there are several films on my Salem Film Fest “itinerary”, but this year (the Festival’s 10th) I seem to be focused exclusively on one documentary: Jay Cheel’s How to Build a Time Machine. I don’t think I’m quite as fixated on time travel as the two subjects of the film, animator Rob Niosi and theoretical physicist Ron Mallet, but I’m a Time Machine aficionado too: of the book and both (major) movies. I think there are personal motivations behind their mutual quest, but I haven’t seen the film yet. Beyond Wells’ storytelling abilities, the attraction for me is the steampunky notion of playing with time: I certainly don’t want to conquer or even control it! Like most historians, I don’t have a romantic attachment to the past either: I know it was dirtier, smellier and dark, but not, perhaps, as dark as the future, so I would still prefer to go back, if only for a spell, in my dependable machine.
A century of time machines, from Enrique Gaspar’s “time ship” (1887) to the 1960 Wells machine, to TARDIS.
I’m just a casual delver into science fiction, but it seems me that The Time Machine is seldom discussed in the context of its lighter predecessor, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), probably because the latter is so light and not as concerned with the logistics of time travel. It is interesting to me that at this time, the tail end of the nineteenth century, so many people were interested in going back or forward or to anywhere but where they actually were! These two works initiated a time travel genre that will no doubt be with us forever, encompassing everything from Time Bandits, to Back to the Future to Midnight in Paris and everything in between, including my personal favorite, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey.
Knights descend on Salem!
March 5th, 2017 at 9:39 am
I am a fan of time traveling stories….Cool!
March 5th, 2017 at 12:16 pm
Love time travel stories. My first sci-fi short story (for adults, not my kids lit books) published is a time travel story. I waste way too much time doing thought experiments on how possible it is…I know…silly. But the apparently ceaseless forward march of time seems ripe for upset with a better understanding of quantum phenomena. Or at least I can make up a story where it does! I will keep an eye out for the documentary.
March 5th, 2017 at 1:23 pm
Will check it out—thanks, Mark.
March 5th, 2017 at 2:11 pm
Enrique Gaspar’s time ship was amazing, since it managed to be published with late 19th century Art Nouveau, Orientalism and modern technology.
March 5th, 2017 at 2:30 pm
Yes, that cover is quite something. Looking forward to reading the story.
March 6th, 2017 at 7:45 am
Steam-punky! Love it.. c
March 8th, 2017 at 8:48 pm
And don’t ignore “The Clock That Went Backward,” a time travel story published in 1881 by Edward Page Mitchell (1852-1927). Never heard of this early American sci-fi pioneer? Until last fall, neither had I. Here’s my take on him: https://sillyverse.com/2016/10/30/my-2016-horror-moldy-oldie-edward-page-mitchell-the-crystal-man/