It was 1992, ’93, when I saw what I remember to be my first time travel movie. Marty McFly with his awesome skateboard and cool pre-grunge outfits. Doc Brown, his crazy Albert Einstein hair and eccentric but lovable attitude. The oh so lovely, totally had a school boy crush, Lea Thompson as Lorraine Baines. Back to the Future was, and still is, an amazing movie; one that will be watched and loved for the ages; and while it may not have been the originator of time travel, the movie is my progenitor of a lifelong fascination with time travel.
The sequel I have watched more than the original, maybe. If I haven’t seen it more than the original, it’s a close second. Everything about the second movie is as wonderful as all the exciting, new, and novel things of the original. People still clamor for a real life hoverboard—not the Segway without handlebars sold today—and they still want self-tying shoes, TVs you can roll up and down like window shades, flying cars, holograms, clothes that dry themselves; Back to the Future 2 is just ridiculous for how wonderful it is.
The third Back to the Future came out and I ate it up. I still enjoy watching that movie. The ending is a bit hokey, but overall, enjoyable as a time killer. It lacks everything that made the first two special though, and…and I thought nothing of time travel movies for years and years after finishing up the Back to the Future trilogy. That is, until college.
I still don’t know why I decided to begin philosophizing on time travel paradoxes. I think it has something to do with The Langoliers, a novella by the venerable Stephen King; I’m not sure, or I could just be a glutton for punishment. For whatever reason, I became enamored with the idea of attempting to resolve the numerous, and I do mean numerous, paradoxes involved in time travel.
Quick tip: If you want to drive yourself bat shit crazy, try to come up with a concrete answer to existential questions.
Whenever I attempt to scrape the surface of time travel paradoxes, I am left frustrated because I come up with more questions than answers, which makes Time Salvager a perplexing double-edged sword of a book. On one side, the story is thoroughly satisfying. I honestly cannot think of something it lacked. It is marvelously written. While on the other side of the sword, Wesley Chu has frustrated me something fierce with his ability to write a time travel book that manages to not frustrate me until the very last page.
Now, when I say the very last page, I don’t mean somewhere around page 349 he frustrated me, but since I had so much time vested in the book, I continued reading. No. The damn ending of Time Traveler got me on the VERY LAST PAGE. Here he goes through 378 pages of a time travel book without making me want to tear apart his views on time travel, and on page 379, the very last goddamn paragraph, Wesley Chu goes there. The mother of all time travel paradoxes.
If you travel back in time and do something, is that because that was always supposed to happen? -OR- Is going back into the past to change an event not actually going to change the event, as the event played out in the way it did because you were/are always going to go back in time so the event plays out as it should? — Yeah, try to give a concrete answer on that. Make sure you room has padding on the walls if you do.
We go an entire novel and on the last page, last paragraph, last sentence, the above paradox gets thrown into the mix. You’re a cruel man Wesley, making me think on time travel paradoxes when I didn’t want to; a cruel, wonderful author, because of that last page, a better ending couldn’t happen. Even if you went back in time to change it.
Should you read Time Salvager? Yes, of course. The entire story is wonderful. It’s also a good starting book for a person wanting to know what the all the hub-bub is surrounding sci-fi.