Out Now – Odyssey 25 (March 2013)

The author as time traveller: H.G Wells's captivating narrative has never been bettered.

By now, we hope our readers will have shaken the red dust of Mars from their boots and are ready for new terrain following last month’s excursion with Kim Stanley Robinson. And it’s expeditions in time rather than space that are on offer in this month’s issue.

Presented with unlimited access to the fourth dimension, where would you go? Seated in the most famous machine in science fiction, how far forward would you push the lever? Or would you travel in the opposite direction back into the past? And just what did happen to the Time Traveller at the end of the beguiling story which is the focus of this month’s retro book review?

The space-time equation crops up in a very different article in our Radical Vectors section. Reading Richard Hayes’s piece – the intellectual equivalent of a roller coaster ride – put me in mind of the choice presented to the renegade computer hacker, Neo, in The Matrix: “The Blue Pill, or the Red Pill?” Either way, as another character from the same film once cautioned: “Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, ‘cause Kansas is going bye-bye.” We hope you enjoy the ride.

Still making a "Big Bang": published in 1895, The Time Machine continues to exert a powerful influence on popular culture. Image courtesy of Chuck Lorre Productions.

One man who knew all about roller coaster rides was Gerry Anderson. For children eager for the latest instalment, the various TV shows he created were white knuckle journeys, packed with suspense and adventure: would Captain Scarlet survive the latest attempt by the Mysterons to destroy him; would International Rescue be able to reach the prototype space craft before it plunged into the Sun; and  would Troy Tempest and Lee “Phones” Sheridan defeat the Aquaphibians’ latest attempt to destroy Marineville? All of these rides made childhood a wonderful and thrilling place to be (and inspired many a young engineer and rocket scientist) as remembered by Mat Irvine in his fine tribute to Gerry. The universe created by Gerry Anderson is somehow timeless and these shows remain as popular today as they have ever been, as evidenced by the recent news that a new series of Thunderbirds is planned for 2015.

In truth, modern science (even with the aid of Supermarionation) cannot fold, displace or manipulate time in any way; but in Odyssey we can offer you a glimpse of a possible tomorrow through the wonderful illustrations of Adrian Mann in our regular Echoes of the Future column. It is in one of the machines visualised by Adrian that mankind may one day set out in search of a new home beyond the Earth. No doubt it’s a journey H.G.’s most famous character would have approved of.

Mark Stewart, FBIS
BIS Honorary Archival Librarian/ Editor (Odyssey)
British Interplanetary Society

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