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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum

One of the perennially vexing problems for the time traveler - and especially enjoyable for the reader or viewer - is how does the time traveler have memories of what the time traveler changed in a trip to the past?   We need the time traveler to have these memories, otherwise she or he would have no idea what was going on.   This problem is a less severe version of the grandparent paradox - how can the time traveler exist and travel to the past if that travel prevented his grandparents from meeting and making love - and requires less extreme solutions, like universes in which the time traveler does and does not exist.   But the problem of knowledge of what you changed by a trip to the past needs to be addressed in some way.

What I do in my time travel stories is just stipulate that the ver act of time travel preserves all memories for the time traveler.  So, if I travel to the past and change some important event, I have memories of what the world was like, what history will be, both before and after the change.   Postulating that kind of time traveler, who has one foot on the shore and one in the changing river of of time, and therefore two or more sets of memories, seems no more incredible than the time travel itself.

12 Monkeys used a nice variation of this approach in episode 2.2 last night.  We learn that the serum that the time travelers take, to inoculate themselves, to some extent, from the psychological ravages of the time travel, preserves their original memories, before the effects of the time time travel.  But the time traveler has no knowledge of what the world is now like as a result of the time travel, and therefore must now set out to learn what's going in this new world.

12 Monkeys did an excellent job of this last night.   First, it had the nerve to have our time travelers actually make a profound change in history - something you don't often see in time travel stories, certainly not in such a clear-cut way.  But Cole and Railly do manage to stop the plague from being unleashed in 2016, and thanks to Cole's persuasion, without killing Jennifer and Ramse.   The new world they've created is thus eminently logically and fits the narrative well:  the plague has not been eliminated, just postponed, and but now destined to be not quite as severe as in the original reality. This has the good effect leaving Ramse's son alive, but giving all of our heroes except him a big reason to keep on the mission: stopping the new, slightly less destructive, but still plenty deadly plague.

And Ramse's not the only one with benefits in this new world.  Katrina discovers she has a lover, which is always good to see and have, though she (of course) is at first a little nonplussed about this. The focus now shifts to 1944, a room rented for perpetuity in a seedy hotel - always a nice touch - and Jennifer finding her "purpose" in the future in this slightly different tableau for the new season. Since we the audience are like Cole, Railly, and Katrina in not knowing what this future holds, I'm looking forward to seeing it unfold.

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys

 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

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What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?

The Chronology Protection Case movie 

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