If “time travel” was a key word to describe a new show, book, or movie, my imaginative ears will perk up with giddiness. Time travel is one of of my favorite genres of exploration. It is a concept that my mind loves to imagine and explore. The idea that Time itself can be seen as a non-linear, malleable entity full of “wibbly-wobbly” bits is a class concept within the Doctor Who community. Reaching back into my academic memories, time is a quantifiable measurement as depicted in an XYZ vector diagram, where time can be perceived as an infinite quantity along the x-plane (of course this depends on the problem itself). Outside of quantitative science, Time is a story-tellers frontier. Rules can be made and broken. Events can be reversed or shattered into non-existence. Or Time can be a river where a story can bridge two unlikely events together. Personally, I see travel across time as a magical form of science. There is so much we don’t understand but it doesn’t stop our imaginations.
This adoration of time travel began early, of which I blame my mother wholeheartedly. To encourage me to learn about my Thai heritage, she enticed me with Thai Borans, shows that depicted old ancient and mystical stories in episodic dramas. It was one called “มิติมหัศจรรย์” (a.k.a “Midi-Mahasajan”) that hooked me. Based off of a book of the same name, the story begins during an typical ancient time periods but with flying maidens, gods, snake kings, and such. One powerful god falls for a young maiden. Misunderstanding a situation, the maiden throws the whole kingdom in peril when the god unleashes his wrath. The maiden is injured at some point and her soul is reincarnated into our time (well this was “our time” in the early 1990s). The maiden has no knowledge of her past until a car accident becomes the bridge to transport her back into the old world. It is a drama of atonement, love, magic, and of course time travel. To my impressionable pre-teen self, this drama series was my whole foundation for time travel. It imbued the idea that it can happen but there is always a consequence to decisions.
Fast forward to few years and I was hooked into the “Ghostwriter” series on PBS. The show may have centered around a group of friends in Brooklyn, New York but this native from Los Angeles still felt connected. It begins with a blob of floating light that can re-arrange writing. For Jamal, Lenni, Alex, Gaby, Tina, Hector, Rob, Casey, and Cece, their lives were forever entwined when this ball of floating light appeared. The premise of this multi-ethnic children’s show was pretty much that the kids would solve various mysteries with the help of Ghostwriter. This doesn’t seem like a time travel show until it was revealed during the last episodes that Ghostwriter was indeed a ghost whose soul had been trapped until Jamal had opened the book. Spooky time travel. A show like Ghostwriter was important not just for depicting multi-ethnic children working together but also introducing a fun science-fiction concept to young minds.
From the shows, began the novel exploration. The Narnia series was a complete epic adventure into time travel and spatial dimensions. Reading the “A Wrinkle In Time” books showed a level of beauty and heartache into science fiction in general. It was the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster that I truly credit cementing the time travel love within pages. This book was more beloved to me than the Alice in Wonderland series, which also has the same feeling of distortion and other-worldliness What “The Phantom Tollbooth” did for me was to introduce the idea that there was plausibility in absurdity. Plus, to travel into unknown regions, one must critically analyze the situation in a calm manner. Plus, reason will be your key to making your way around.
All of these were essential to my journey to exploration and adoration of time travel. It is no wonder on this nostalgic look back that I gravitate towards such concepts. Of course, it all began with my parents giving me the freedom to choose which world to jump in. There is nothing more liberating than your father giving you your first library card and tell you “pick whatever you want.” Sometimes when things around you seem to be chaotic, it always helps to look back and to move forward from there.