All time travel stories have to contend with a science fiction trope we might call the “trickle forward” effect. Some writers simply ignore the effect, others use it to great (and often funny or tragic) advantage.
Personally, I love writing time travel stories. I’ve penned about half a dozen of them, all published in Analog. I’m working on a sort of twisted time travel novel at the moment and am grappling with a complex plot that relies on the trickle forward effect from multiple points in time. Obviously, this can be a blessing or a curse.
I was discussing time travel stories with Larry Niven one weekend at a con when he told me that he has some slightly twisted friends who like to dress in black suits and go about in the guise of Time Travelers. They spend their time abroad policing each other. If one of the number so much as picks up a gum wrapper and throws it away, the others will insist that he find the wrapper and return it to the spot.
The point is, that while many of us who even think about time travel, consider major events such as assassinations and wars as turning points in history, the truth is that the removal of a gum wrapper may be just as telling in the long run. Continue reading