Category Archives: Feature

Jet Packs and Class Structure

A three year study on the use of jet packs in contiguous, current realities has just been completed by Rass Silvian (Q42) . His findings should come as little surprise to those who have thought through the logistics of jet packs. It will disappoint those with romantic notions of a retro future with people happily whizzing about from place to place via personal jet packs.

In the Y17 and Y18 timelines, jet packs are used with alarming frequency in the streets of most American, European and African cities. Silvian writes: “The timelines at first look charming, like a Steampunk’s dream: all gleaming brass metal and flying men. As you look up to see it, however, you are scalded in the face and pressed to the ground by the thrusters of a passing commuter.”

There is no way around the physical fact that a jet pack must apply equal or greater force than the weight it lifts. Even a petite business woman in a sleek, lightweight transport will surge over the ground with a hundred pounds of hot, steaming pressure.

A little observation reveals that all these cities are deeply stratified. “The wealthy whirl through the air, enjoying a full three dimensions of freedom, while the poor are left cowering and parboiled in the streets.

Silvian observes 18 cataloged timelines in which jet packs are used as a frequent method of transport. All have highly caste-like social structures and all reserve the privilege of jet pack flight for the affluent elite. The wealthy in these timelines (and many more) simply don’t care what happens to the people beneath them. One be-monocled gentleman even made a game of making beggars scramble beneath him as he enjoyed an egg sandwich and jetted across Plottsdam Park in London.

He writes: “It is as if the adoption of this method of travel, with its promise of independence and personal freedom, has lead to a complete lack of empathy, or consideration for the welfare of the greater society. Either that, or the cruelty of the jet pack has made these sociopathic tendencies manifest in the streets of this world.”

Silvian goes on to note that the wider environmental impacts of jet packs are devastating, with extremely high Co2 emissions and ozone depletion. He also notes that 8 of the visited realities are divergents from a Nazi-centric timeline (Y17:NOA1946:51) where Germany won the Second World War. “The callous use of jet packs,” he says, “are a perfect symbol of the modern Nazi, allowing him to travel in a style that reflects his egocentric need to exert superiority, while maintaining his classic Nazi banality in the face of his own cruelty.”

Silvian suggests explorers of these “Jet Pack Timelines” are best advised to approach with caution and a heat dissipating umbrella.


I Like to Ask About the Future

I am fascinated by what people imagine the future will be. They are wrong in various degrees, usually because they lack the scope of hindsight, and overcompensate by exaggerating whatever is socially or technologically current. It is easy to look on predictions from the past with condescending amusement, but I think it is a good lesson to remind us how flawed and unsophisticated our own predictions invariably are.

A good example comes from Herman Memont, a gentleman who, at 20 years of age in 1740, told me that he imagines the future holds a better way of carving trails and keeping them level so horses may travel with much greater speed and efficiency. He believes that a hundred years hence (1840) that half the world shall have seen fit to convert to a Presbyterian Church. He also imagines that new metals shall be discovered, easier to forge and to the great benefit of men working the lands. I should also mention he also says every good man will have two dark and obedient slaves to work these metal wonders. This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, but I think my look, an arched eyebrow, may have given away something of what I thought of this unfortunate aspect of the past.

Last week, I was speaking with a representative from 2118 when I inadvertently mentioned a delicious BLT I’d have for lunch.

Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato?” he asked an eyebrow arched.

I worry now that perhaps in the future people don’t eat meat and I am seen as some dull savage.

Top 10 Movie Lines from Alternate Realilties

One of the great pleasures of visiting other timelines is you get to see your favorite films again, and enjoy them for the different perspective. Even people who don’t time travel may know many scenes in Back to the Future were filmed with Eric Stoltz before he was replaced by Michael J. Fox. In timeline Q45 you can see the complete Eric Stoltz version. The script is mostly the same, though one of the most famous lines, “You built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?” has been inexplicably truncated to “You built a time machine?”

However, many movies have interesting variations on the famous lines you know and in that spirit, we present the top ten list of the best movie quotes from the multiverse. They are, of course, subject to change.

10.)from Timeline Q121:H1981, in which  time travel is a plot element in the Star Wars films:
“Luke, you are my father.”
– The Empire Strikes Back

9.) from Timeline R11:H1933, where people are extremely safety-conscious:
“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a state law.”
– All About Eve

8.) from Timeline Q42:NE1931, where Soylent Green is slightly more disturbed:
“Soylent Green is delicious!”
– Soylent Green

7.) – from Timeline Q56:NOP2002, a timeline in which proper labeling is taken very seriously:
“My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You always know exactly what you’re gonna get.”
– Forest Gump

6.)from Timeline Q12:ZZ1994, in which Rene Zelwigger starred in several classic films of the 1930’s:
“You complete me.”
– Bride of Frankenstein

5.) from Timeline R01:NZ1933, where the Hindenburg disaster never occurred:
“You’re gonna need a bigger blimp.”
– Jaws

4.) from Timeline Q12:H1849, in which classical and operant conditioning battle for supremacy:
Teacher says every time a bell rings, a dog salivates.”
– It’s a Wonderful Life: The Ivan Pavlov Story

3.) – from Timeline Q121:H1981, which has an inordinate number of twins:
“Nobody puts babies in a corner.”
– Dirty Daycare

2.) – also from Timeline Q121:H1981, with its inordinate number of twins:
“There can be only two.”
– The Highlanders

1.) – from Timeline Q92:H1611, a more agricultural timeline than most:
“Open the barn doors, Hal.”
– 2001: A Space Odyssey




Ray Bradbury

Without him, we wouldn’t understand the Butterfly Effect. In a timeline not far from this one, where Bradbury’s works went unappreciated, time travel will never be possible. It wasn’t a squashed butterfly which caused it. It was carelessly trampled dreams.

Over in that timeline they have few satellites, more books are burned, and there are no cell phones due to scarce imagination and, perhaps, for want of Ray Bradbury’s descriptions of “seashells” and “thimble radios.” They also have no internet, and so can not read this post. It’s a pity. They don’t know what we they are missing, or who we are missing.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

“You want a peek?” A young gentleman asked the question. He held out his binoculars. He was eager to share. It was a moment of pure joy for him, watching the new queen pass. I took them. I looked. The Queen’s gilt carriage had already passed far enough I could only see her hands. Still, I let out a whistle so my new friend would feel I’d been impressed. He quickly took the binoculars back and scrunched his eyes up as he tried to get another glimpse, but of course it was too late.

I told him I liked the bells. Bells were ringing everywhere. He said he liked them too.

I looped back and did it again, getting his attention sooner. The second time I saw the queen. She looked quietly pleased. I told my new friend I liked the queen’s hat and he went bananas.

“A hat? You call that a hat! It’s a crown you bloody lunatic! A sacred crown!” He yanked the binoculars from me and stewed as he tried to focus on her.

On my third and final loop, I called her crown “resplendent” and he smiled as though I told him he was going be crowned king of the world.

Meditations on a Giant Moa

I’ve only seen a single Moa. It stood at the edge of a forest clearing in a patch of dappled, early morning sun on a warm spring day in 1503. It was more than twice my height and nervous. It barely seemed like a bird. Moa are often depicted in a way that imply feathers, but the enormous creature I saw was shaggy and grotesque, like a horrible Muppet stumping through the trees.

Its sharp eye was deep green and suspicious. It moved off from me with slow massive strides. Thick, heavy talons gripped and released the dessicated leaves and dirt of the forest floor as if warning me not to follow.

To imagine it, you might be tempted to picture  an ostrich enlarged, but the the nearest physical experience in terms of height, strangeness and awe might be a giraffe, if a giraffe were an anxious and irritable bird that half-resembled a dinosaur.