Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Jo Walton wrote a very good piece on time travellers in Montreal: http://www.livejournal.com/users/papersky/150837.html#cutid1. The ones she talks about are helpful (running bookstores with stock that's been hard-to-get for decades), or at least harmless (time tourists in what they think is appropriate clothing.)

But if the past can be changed, some time travellers would be making deliberate alterations. And not all of these would be useful or harmless, by our standards.

For example: Hitler first existed in the mind of a crackpot, then in his writings in which he claimed that the history everyone knew was a pack of conspiratorial lies. In the real world, European politics could never have become insane enough for a Hitler (or even a Mussolini) to achieve power.

The pseudo-historian acquired followers. And then, after his death, time travel was discovered. It was possible to go back in time, and see that history hadn't followed nearly the course his followers knew it must have followed. Obviously (to them), The Conspiracy must have altered the past as a way of continuing the cover-up.

The pseudo-historian's followers realized what must be done. They are going back through time, changing events to what they believe was their original state.

In the process, they're destroying the history which led to them. They will still exist so long as they could possibly have been born; chrono-inertia will see to that. When they return to their own time, they're going to be rather shocked for a bit. (After that, they'll realize that The Conspiracy is even more cunning than they'd realized.)

This has happened "before". Taig of Silver Mountain believed, against all evidence, that Earth had once had a moon. His followers went back to a time before the origin of life when they knew such a moon must have existed; and they "restored" it as Taig had described it. Result: when life evolved on Earth, it was very different from the life they were descended from. They disappeared.

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