Oct 2, 2010

Time and Again

Author Jack Finney would be 99 today. Finney's time travel novel, Time and Again, was an inspiration to me as I thought about how to delve into my mother's diaries. Finney's descriptions and photos, and his characters' powerful feelings about wanting to revisit the past, struck a chord with me.

In the book, Simon, a commercial artist, is brought into a secret government project. The objective is to transport Simon back to 1880s New York City. The fragment of an intriguing note from that time period is the driving force that convinces Simon to move forward (actually, backward), cautiously, into this exciting, yet potentially dangerous, experiment.

The time travel project's Dr. Danziger advises Simon on what he's about to undertake:

“And you'd like to watch the ‘sending of this,’ would you? Well, who could blame you? So would I. But what good would it do you, Si? What would you learn? If anything, only a meaningless fragment more of a mystery that would continue to tantalize you and which you could not pursue. Because surely you've understood”—he leaned across the desk toward me—“that there cannot be the least intervention of any kind in events of the past. To alter the past would be to alter the future which derives from it. The consequences of that are unimaginable, and it is an utterly unacceptable risk.”

“Of course! And I understand. But just to watch that letter mailed, Dr. Danziger! I wouldn't learn much, I know. Nothing, probably. But... well, I can't explain.”

“You don't have to. Because I understand. Nevertheless—.”

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