Post by Quadibloc Post by D B Davis
The Five Master Plots of Time Travel Stories
Master plot #1. A man tries to change history and fails.
He is doomed to failure, no matter what, because the past
can’t be changed. ...
Master plot #2. A man tries to change the past in some
logically forbidden way. ... The stars go out; the universe
Master plot #3. ... A man tries to fix a tragedy by
going back in time, but instead makes things worse. ...
Master plot #4. A man is in a world different from ours.
He tries to change the past, succeeds, and his world morphs
into the “real” world, i. e. ours. ...
Master plot #5. A man tries to change history, but instead
creates a new timeline, or crosses over into an existing alternate
If this sort of thing interests you, it's worth a visit to the link.
Ah, I didn't read your post carefully; I Googled, and found that
after being disappointed I couldn't find that in the issue of
Of course, in my opinion, while those five basic plotlines deal
with many science-fiction stories about attempts to change known
past events, in violation of causality...
they omit the _most common_ type of time-travel story.
If you count things like the TV shows "The Time Tunnel", "Doctor
Who", and "Quantum Leap", that is.
Someone travels to the past, using an erratic, quirky time
travel device which is not fully controllable. While he is
unable to change major events in the past that are known to have
happened, he was _meant_ to arrive at that particular past
moment in order to...
prevent some major tragedy that *didn't* happen, but would have,
if not for him (i.e. flying-saucer aliens landed on Earth in the
Middle Ages, and would have blown it up if not for being foiled
by the time traveller), or
alleviate the consequences of a major tragedy by directing an
individual along the right path (i.e. while not being able to
prevent the Titanic from sinking, the time traveller encourages
one depressed woman to go forwards to the lifeboats when she
So each week they can tell stories about the time traveller
doing some good without ever bumping into a causality paradox.
My present theory about Doctor Who is that every time
he/she (or anyone else, including bad guys) changes
history with time travel, there are consequences, for
subsequent events at least, and changes everywhere.
And job security.
The main evidence is that he/she has witnessed or
caused three different versions of the fall of Atlantis,
and utterly destroyed his great enemies the Daleks
more than once. Evidently this got undone and he
had to, um, do it again.
This has been taken to the extreme level of recently
having his 1960s version meet a woman from the distant
future (2017) and describe a theory of his, if I understood
correctly, that logically, in good versus evil,
evil should generally win; but, hopping around in time,
he has found that not happening. A factor is missing
in his calculation. Her idea: "Perhaps there's just
some bloke, wandering around, putting everything right
when it goes wrong." Namely, him.
Oh, and he's prevented the destruction of the universe
more than once - so if someone undoes /him/ with
time travel then it had better be un-undone fast.