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What is the appeal of time travel stories?

Time travel is a frequently revisited topic in both popular and literary fiction. What is the philosophical appeal of time travel? Does it simply speak to our personal regrets or to large global/political/social issues that we wish to undo? Is it egotistical to think that ‘hight sight is twenty-twenty’; that to know the negative outcome of one event/one decision would allow us to course correct and thereby find success? Can humanity (globally or personally) only learn or develop compassion through disaster?

  • I personally think that the appeal of time travel stories lies in our flawed nature as humans. The possibility of reversing/changing the outcome of our own mistakes and/or the wider worlds' is very appealing, as well as egotistical (we get to play the hero). However, the appeal also lies in the unknown i.e., what will the alternative outcome be if I go back in time and ensure Hitler wasn't born? Will there be a better outcome or a worse one? That's just my opinion on the topic though! – Ness 4 years ago
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  • I think it is a case of regret. Everyone has defining moments in their lives that determined the course of their life trajectory. In those vulnerable moments of self-doubt, it is only human to wonder about the road less travelled. A few suggestions for revisions: Perhaps "hightsight" could be fixed to read "hindsight." I think this is a great topic but would narrow the focus to an individual's life. Most people may not have the clout to decide world events, with all due respect to our readership. Also, examples like the Arrow and Flash and even Quantico have employed the flashback sequence. Would you want to include the examples you have in mind so the writer of this topic can understand your meaning more clearly? – Munjeera 4 years ago
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  • I've always loved time-travel stories. The appeal for me is the idea of not being tied down to any one place and not missing out. The ability to travel anywhere, during any time is the superpower that I've always wanted. There are moments in history that I would love to be apart of. And I have this unquenchable thirst to see space, and other planets and their civilisations. Not to mention, time travel means shirking responsibilities. Not being tied down to anything or anyone. For me, it's simple wanderlust to the extreme extent. – KintaW 4 years ago
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  • The underlying message within many time travel stories is to live in the moment and places extreme value in the present. I believe this is what draws us to these stories. We cannot time travel, and the spectacle that is time travel is enticing, but the resolution of the story is most commonly a reminder to cherish time that we have, not to wish back the past or anticipate the future. It is a message that is simple to grasp and easy to promise; I will enjoy every day with no regrets. – GeorgiaParry 4 years ago
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  • I think this depends largely on the story in question. There are a lot of different takes on time-travel. It would be interesting to try and find certain themes that seem to pop up within the subject most often, and analyze those, rather than the concept of time travel in general. – Ben Woollard 4 years ago
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  • I believe it is our conciseness of being stuck in a moving chronological belt of time, fixated is what makes much of the 21st century so interested in time travelling. The ability to escape this chain and break its control on us is not only embedded in the liberal thoughts of our society, but in human emotion itself. – chackz 4 years ago
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