Note — Oct 06, 2019

The Future of Another Timeline: How Time-Travel Stories Explain Our Era.

Annalee Newitz’s new book is about time-travel. Here’s a look at some examples of time-travel in various fictions, and a parallel with contemporary social change. Revisiting history by putting marginalized or oppressed peoples at the center, in a way, changes that history and rebuilds the timeline to a more inclusive version.

There’s nothing like witnessing radical, unexpected social changes to make you realize that the timeline is constantly being rewritten—and its authors are not always so-called Great Men. Sometimes they’re groups of ordinary people, whose connections to each other form a field of resistance to tyranny. […]

When we put the histories of those who have been marginalized or oppressed at the center of our stories, it changes the way we understand the present. Time travel literalizes this process, showing us clearly how revisiting history changes the current moment. […]

The war for the present is a war over our histories—both political and personal—and sometimes it feels like time-travelers are messing with us. […]

Like time travelers, we can go back and retrieve what’s been lost: the suppressed voices of slaves, the life stories of women, the contributions of immigrants to our economic prosperity. We can rebuild the history that’s been stolen from us, and in the process we can create a timeline that’s open enough for all of us.