Time travel is a funny thing. Depending on the unique rules of the time travel no two time travel stories are the same. Recently re-released time travel novel Time’s Last Gift is much the same as it introduces rules I’ve never seen. What better way to add validity to your story if you can come up with some clever sciencey space time rules.
In Time’s Last Gift for instance, the science shows time travelers may not go back to a time where they are currently alive. On top of that there’s a time limit to how far back one can go so the longer you wait the less far you can go. In this novel’s case 12,000 B.C. is as far back as possible. How do they know? Because they tested it, making it even more real! Because of these interesting ideas this is one of the most inventive time travel stories I’ve ever read and, avoiding spoilers, there’s a real head trip by book’s end you’ll want to check out.
The plot is relatively simple, most likely to let the fantastical elements breathe. A team of four scientists have been tasked to go on the first time travel expedition. They are going to 12,000 B.C. to collect as many specimens as possible all in the name of science. The main protagonist, Gribardsun, is at the peak of human physical ability and incredibly good at language, survival skills and a slew of scientific necessities for the trip. He’s essentially the perfect human. As the scientists battle time sickness, local savages and jealousy amongst themselves they call into question Gribardsun’s origin. He speaks as if he came from a time much earlier than the 2070 launch date. In fact, his mannerisms and language sound as if he’s from 1800’s. Cue dramatic music.
Over the course of the novel the scientists must learn to live with the savages and slowly unravel a mystery they brought back with them. It’s an incredibly engrossing book that is written in a very modern way. Though published in 1972 it maintains a language that is interesting and exciting.The only gripe I could find was there wasn’t a lot of time traveling and thus was focused more on living in an ancient time. The last third of the book will astound you though and the conclusion is a great mind fuck.
Because this book is witness to many aspects of time travel you’ll probably want to take notes for your next expedition. I’ve collected the top ten tips to keep in mind when going back in time. Safe travels!
1. The further back you go, the more precautions you have to take. Language, health, knowledge of the cultures etc.
Judging by this photo you may need to master bear hunting, spear thrusting and horseback riding. Can you do it? Most importantly, will you look good doing it?
Obviously if you go back more than 200 years you’re going to want to learn how to ride a horse and brush up on the survival skills. You won’t be able to bring back a vehicle and even if you did you’d not only spook the natives but there won’t be any roads anyway. Don’t get me started on cultural taboos and customs to be aware of:
Walk like the natives.
The further back you go the more unfamiliar things will be. Either do your homework or be ready to roll with the punches.
You also have to keep in mind any diseases or viruses that might have gone extinct in the age you grew up in. You’ll probably want a full pharmacy at the ready. Go back 10,000 years and you might catch something you won’t be able to fight. Full blown Before Christ AIDS is real my friend.
2. Be able to learn things very quickly.
Brain surgery 101.
If you are bad at languages don’t go back in time. Hell, you might have to pick up a specific dance of the people to win them over too…there’s just too many things you might need to pick up. Language though, is most likely going to be the one thing you’re going to need to figure out on the fly.
There are plenty of languages that have died off and aren’t even known about today so there’s no chance to brush up before you travel. Worse yet, if you can’t pick up the neanderthal language within a month or so whilst living with them…they’re gonna start to lose faith in you being their god and all. Where’s the fun in that?
3. Bring guns. Make sure they are loud and powerful. Oh and tons of ammo.
You’ll probably want more than one gun…also don’t be so relaxed.
This is a no brainer. Whether it’s making King Arthur your bitch, or scaring the natives with the “boom boom” stick you’re going to need some firepower. The amount of ammo is self explanatory. You could be here for a very long time so stock up. Nobody is going to mess with you if you take their legs off. Am I right?
4. Somebody tell the grandfather paradox to shut up. If something happened, it happened.
Lot’s happening here. You can’t possibly change the future…so don’t try stopping these guys.
The grandfather paradox is a bunch of bullshit. The paradox goes something like this: if you go back in time and kill your grandfather before he married your grandmother then how could you have ever been born.
When you come from the future anything and everything you do will not change history because being in the past required everything to go as it did to build the time machine and have you be born. It happened. The characters in this book have no fear of messing up the time stream because they know anything they do was part of the past.
That doesn’t mean whatever you do isn’t part of history. Any historical events you’re part of…save a culture, kill a king, whatever, means you were implicitly important in history. And you didn’t even know it! Good for you.
5. Be as physically fit as humanly possible.
No, I didn’t say as physically fat as possible.
Most likely you’re going to want to go very far back in time to chill with Jesus and say “whadup” to Mohammed. Guess what you’ll be doing if you go back before the car was invented or when horses weren’t tamed? Lots of walking. On top of that, if you want to eat some stegosaurus or Woolly Mammoth you’re going to need to get real good at throwing a javelin.
This could be you. Ain’t gonna have skills with the spear if you eat cheese puffs and play Skyrim all day.
In Time’s Last Gift hunting is a big part of the scientists becoming friends with the natives. If you can supply them with food they’ll see you as a friend. On top of that any real archaeological work is going to require lots of travel. Maybe they should have titled this book, Time To Do Some Crunches.
6. Don’t waste time! Go back in time ASAP!
Time wasting 101.
You can go back in time, but only so far back. The longer you wait to go back in time the distance you may travel is reduced. Why this is so is never made too clear in the book, but it’s a truth. Don’t waste time. Act now!
7. Don’t let yourself lose your head. Time sickness is real. If you’re a weakling.
Ah yes…brain fever!
Which in all likelihood you probably are. Nobody is as strong as Gribardsun in this book. Not even the scientists who trained for 10 years. Why? Because he’s awesome and has a secret. Shh, don’t ruin it!
For instance, at one point one of the more emotional male scientists loses his shit and reverts back to when he was 12. Why? Who knows, time sickness is funny like that. The last thing you want is the natives “curing” you. We all know how that goes:
8. Bring back a super-powerful camera.
Just imagine how much more sweet this painting of cannibals would look if was taken with a 200 megapixel camera!
You’re going to want some proof you went back in time, especially since when you do go back to the future it’s going to look like you were gone for a half a second. You might be gone for 10 years but everyone in the future saw you blip out and blip back within seconds. Nobody is going to believe you when you tell them you gave Jesus a swirly. Photo evidence is a must!
9. Sleep with as many folks as you want. You’re probably your own ancestor.
Do as they do…including their women.
I think there’s an incestuous paradox here but no need to worry since you’re introducing your genes to genetically different ones. In fact, you’re the only person in your ancestry that WASN’T having sex with a family member. Good job. Just know that you probably are your own great great great times 50 grandfather.
10. You can exist at the same time as your other self… because you’re not really you. Give or take 7 years.
You may look the same, but you aren’t the same cellularly.
I won’t ruin the story, but let’s just say it’s neither confirmed nor denied whether you can coexist with yourself. What is confirmed though is that your cells regenerate every 7 years. You’re not yourself after those 7 years are up. Not even a single cell.
You see every 7 years your body’s veins make a new you. Sort of like tentacle sex…wait what?
You probably shouldn’t worry about running into yourself then. Unless of course you run into another self who went back in time at the same time. Then your cells might be similar enough. Wait… my head hurts.
Make sure you print out this list as you’re going to need this list in paper format in order to avoid scaring the natives and requiring a computer.
The recently released Titan Books edition also contains an essay on the story by Christopher Paul Carey and a Chronology of how the story fits into the Wold Newton timeline. That might come in handy. The Kindle version is a few dollars cheaper and is available here.
With these rules learned from Time’s Last Gift you should be ready to travel back in time. Once you’re in the past it’s just a matter of time before you use them.