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Old January 27 2009, 09:41 AM   #143
Location: North Ryde, NSW
Re: Lost 5x01: "Because You Left" & 5x02: "The Lie"

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
Twelve Monkeys is one of my favorite time travel stories. But yeah, it didn't do great numbers at the box office, so I may be in the minority.
And that was a two-hour movie. Having characters be helpless for two seasons is going to be a lot more frustrating. I thought that premise worked fine at a movie length, btw.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that there's a difference between "change" and "affect". Time travel with self-consistency means that you can't "change" history, but there's nothing to stop you from having an *effect* on history. It's just that your actions were always part of the timeline. So, for example, you could go back in time 100 years and invest in General Electric under an assumed name, and then return to the present and collect your $100 million. The investment would have always been part of history, it's just that you didn't know about it before.
But the writers didn't think to have you be a billionaire from the start, because that was four years ago and who plans TV shows out in that kind of detail? so they can't retcon it in now if they're adhering strictly to the one-immutable-timeline philosophy.
I may not have explained my point very well. I was responding to your suggestion that time travel within a self-consistent timeline means that the time traveler is "helpless". The time traveler is anything but helpless. You can still have a massive impact on the timeline without actually "changing" it.

With the example I was offering, the scenario was: "OK, I'm not already a billionaire. I don't have a billion dollars now. I didn't have a billion dollars four years ago, or ever. But I have a time machine, so I can go back in time 100 years, set up these secret investment accounts, then return to the present to access the secret accounts and collect my money. The accounts were always there. It was already part of the timeline. I just didn't know about them until I thought up the idea of creating them."

Or how about this one?: "I want to save the life of a friend of mine, who died on a plane crash a few years ago. I have a time machine, but I know I can't change history, so there's nothing that can be done to save him, as it's already happened. But wait, I can go back in time, prevent the plane from crashing, and then set up a fake plane crash with fake bodies which the media will report as that plane crashing and everyone aboard dying. Nothing was ever actually 'changed'. The fake crash and the coverup were always part of history, I just didn't know about it until I thought of the idea."

Or if you want to get really crazy: "I pick up my newspaper in the morning, and read about a couple of stories that I don't like. I want to get in my time machine and go back and prevent these events that were reported on from happening. But the timeline is immutable, so how do I do that? Well, I can go back in time and mess up as much of the previous day's events as I want. I just have to make sure that when I'm done, I make sure to print out a fake newspaper, with news stories on all the things that I wanted to change, then drop that newspaper off on my front porch so that the me from the past is fooled."

So there you go. There are tons of things you can do to get around the prohibition on changing history, as long as you're creative.
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