One of my least favorite “sub-genres” of science fiction is the time travel story. I’ve read many, and most bother me because the inherent paradoxes they create just make my brain hurt. That’s not to say time travel stories can’t be done well. Connie Willis has written at least two novels—Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog—that use time travel as their central speculative element. Both are very good. In fact, I count To Say Nothing of the Dog as one of all-time favorites, and I routinely recommend it to people, right after uttering the words: “While I usually hate time travel stories…” I find that Ms. Willis’ work tends to be among the exceptions, however, and I usually groan when I get the part in the story where the time machine is revealed in all its sordid grandeur.
I generally don’t like to talk about stories in progress (except to my wife who, having little other choice, tolerates it), but having now established my loathing for time machines, I have a confession to make. After promising I would never write a time travel story, I have in fact started writing one. I feel like I’ve just stood up at a twelve-step meeting and admitted my dirty secret. I’m not exactly sure what’s compelled me to take on this unsavory task, but obviously I think I have a story idea—sans “I’m-my-own-grandfather” paradoxes—that I think is strong and compelling. Hopefully it will play out that way. Otherwise I may be looking for a way to go back in time and shoot myself before I could publish this post.