Once again, my Friday Fiction story has left me pondering. Or maybe it’s just shone a spotlight on something I was already thinking about. In a highbrow mood the other week, we watched Back To The Future III (previous highbrow moods the previous two weeks had included I and II) and it got me thinking about time. Not time travel, but time itself.
I’m constantly staggered by the incredible pace at which time flows, so that what our grandparents experienced as every-day seems completely alien to us. Humanity doesn’t change, and I think it’s naïve to think that the terrible things man did to man in a previous generation couldn’t happen again – aren’t happening again already – but the world in which those human actions take place, that changes wildly. I can remember a time when we didn’t have mobile phones – when we said “I’ll see you at 8 o’clock” and then we stuck to it, because we had no way to text or call and switch things up – and even when we didn’t have internet and email. But I’m part of the last generation who didn’t grow up with those things. My generation takes TV for granted, for the generation before it’s home phones, then electric light and so on.
Back to Back To The Future; the Wild West was just three generations before my parents. People who were born in that world could have fought in the World Wars, or could certainly have watched their children doing so.
As I said, I find it staggering. But I also find it magical, because books and films can take me there. I can read Little Women and jump straight into the American civil war period, or All Quiet On The Western Front and land squarely in the trenches. You don’t have to write fantasy to be a world-builder. Even the most straight-forward “here and now” novel is creating a time-capsule for the world it depicts.
And that, for me, is magical.