Sitting in the transit lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport, looking at the ceiling, I imagine commercial time travel in the future won’t be too dissimilar than the long haul flying of today. Whatever technology that allows us to travel through time will no doubt leave us feeling delirious, disoriented, tired, hungry, and detached. Similar to how I feel right now.
In the movies, it’s always this near-immediate transition. A car speeds back to the future. A machine twirls with lots of noise and flashes, and in an instant it has appeared in another time. But real time travel won’t be that quick and easy – mark my words. I bet you can expect to have to endure all sorts of bureaucratic processes. Timestamps, Time/Space Passports. Depending on how far back you go, surely the costs go up exponentially.
If you are emigrating to the past – you will need a letter from your future self giving consent and have it notarized by a lawyer who specializes in time law. And who owns time? Has it been divvied up like our earth has been today – separated ownership by various nations around the world? Or are large chunks of time privately owned? While seated in your seat in the time machine, will there be some fancy seatback display the shows you a visual representation of your journey through time – your time machine, as it crosses the many-layered fabric of decades and/or millennia?
And will time travelling travelers be subjected to the same classic scams world travelers do today. Will pick pockets hang out around Time Terminals? Will smugglers, prostitutes, dealers, lurk nearby? Will guide books for different periods of history pop up? A huge black market industry of time smugglers, and history corrupters will crop up, and in response governments will spend millions upon millions to protect their citizens of both the present and the past… and the future I guess. Convoluted stuff. The Timelines (like airlines, that’s time machine companies – you got that right?) will up their fares and add in ‘future contamination tax’ and activists will protest that time travel is immoral and will unravel the fabric of our fragile world.
Two hours left till the final leg of my journey to Mumbai. The ceiling here looks both futuristic, yet with a hint to the culture of this place, and its past. Travel – the kind that takes you far from where you started – can feel strange.