Past Meetup

Why the Impossibility of Time Travel Makes Such Good Fiction? with Paul Levinson

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Time travel is almost certainly impossible. Travel to the past invokes the grandparent paradox - if I travel to the past and accidentally or deliberately prevent my grandparents from meeting, how did I exist to travel to the past in the first place?
The multiple worlds hypothesis provides an escape hatch - PL1 from World 1 travels to the past and prevents grandparents from meeting, which brings World 2 into being with no PL, but this could happen because the time traveler was PL1 from World 1 not World 2 - but the idea that a new world in brought into being with every drop of the time traveler's hat is even more incredible than time travel itself.

And travel to the future runs contrary to free will: you may travel to the future and see me wearing a blue shirt tomorrow. But I'm sure I have free will and can wear any shirt tomorrow that I please.
So that's why I think time travel is likely impossible - and also why writing, reading, and watching stories that deal with these impossibilities is so much fun.

Paul Levinson, PhD, is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in NYC. His science fiction novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction Novel of 1999), Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002), The Pixel Eye (2003), The Plot To Save Socrates (2006), Unburning Alexandria (2013), and Chronica (2014) - the last three of which are also known as the Sierra Waters trilogy, and are historical fiction as well as science fiction. His stories and novels have been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, Edgar, Prometheus, and Audie Awards. His nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), Cellphone (2004), New New Media (2009; 2nd edition, 2012), McLuhan in an Age of Social Media (2015), and Fake News in Real Context (2016), have been translated into twelve languages. He co-edited Touching the Face of the Cosmos: On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion in 2016. He appears on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the History Channel, NPR, and numerous TV and radio programs. His 1972 LP, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was re-issued in 2010. He was President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America,[masked]. He reviews television in his InfiniteRegress.tv blog, and was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Top 10 Academic Twitterers" in 2009.

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