A Station Eight Fan Web Site


The Phoenix Gate

Ask Greg Archives

Time Travel

Archive Index

: « First : « 10 : Displaying #61 - #70 of 85 records. : 10 » : Last » :

Posts Per Page: 1 : 10 : 25 : 50 : All :

Bookmark Link

matt writes...

Jim R., i think that Greg explained time travel pretty well and it makes sense to me. if you were to go back in time to save JFK one way or another you failed cuz JFK was assasinated! its like Xanatos said, "You won't, because you didn't. Time travels funny, that way." you wouldn,t succeed it saving JFK because you obviously didn't save him, he was killed despite what you would do. another example is "M.I.A." Goliath knew from meeting Leo and Una that Griff didn't come home that night so when he went back in time even if he did everything to keep Griff in his time something else would have happened. Griff would have been killed etc. time is like a river and any attempt to change it will end in failure because if history had been changed you would never had wanted to try and change it in the first place! does all this make sense?

Greg responds...


Response recorded on February 01, 2001

Bookmark Link

DrFaust writes...

Re: Working time paradoxes.

I must confess, I've always liked "changing the past" time travel stories. I was indoctrinated by "Back to the Future" at a young age. <shrug>

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a book with Heinlein's "All You Zombies." All the libraries around seem to focus on his monumental novels that hammer home the same points over and over. (Annoying nit I feel obligated to mention: all his characters have the same vocabulary and speech mannerisms. Drives me nuts.)

So, er, about the paradox thingy. Wish I had more to comment on it. There is a certain sense of balance and rightness to a self-fulfilling paradox. Makes for a neater and cleaner story. The first time I came across it was a short story by someone I can't remember called "Up By His Bootstraps" (or something similar). The idea blew me away.

It's almost a kind of aethestic, I think. While there is the appeal of a neat paradox, some people like the messy timeloops. Take Lawrence Miles' Faction Paradox ("Alien Bodies" and "Interference"). One of their forms of punishment is for a member to kill his or her's younger self.

Of course, Simon Bucher-Jones suggested in "Ghost Devices" that a self-cancelling paradox would loop over and over, variating slightly each time until some sequence of events occurred that allowed the universe to go on. Sort of like that mythical first time around that Vashkoda suggested.

Aesthetically pleasing as it may be, I always thought this kind of history was somewhat depressing. How do you *know* it was free will? If there never was a first time, and you've always been doing a particular action, then there's nothing to you say you could change. Which you can't.

Anyhoo, just a thought or two buried in all that.

"...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing..."

Greg responds...

Again, if you're going to look at things that way, one might argue how do you know if you have free will here in the real world.

The answer is, I suppose, that you can't be 100% sure that you do.

But I'm fairly confident that within the realm of things that my will can effect, I have free will.

Nothing's any different in the time-travel stories I've presented. You're simply looking at them from a unique angle.

Response recorded on December 21, 2000

Bookmark Link

The Mighty Thor writes...

That was an instereting explanition.

But what then is to distinguish between the world of choice and the world of fate

Say I go back in time and tell said driver to turn left instead of right, what then happens to the video of the right turn? Or does he still turn right?

What I really don't get is, Gargoyles "appears" to be a world of free choice. But the whole phinoex gate thing has shown that there is a predetermined way of things.
Call me crazy but doesn't it seem kinda pointless when no matter what you do the outcome will be the same?

Greg responds...

You're reasoning escapes me.

At least in part, probably, because I don't remember exactly what you're referring to.

You go back in time and tell the guy to turn left. Nothing stopped you from doing that. You exercised free will. He decides to ignore you and he turns right. Nothing forced him to turn right. He just didn't trust your advice. He exercised free will.

The Garg Universe is a world of free choice. But that doesn't mean its occupants control all events anymore than we do in the real world. I may decide to jump off a building and fly. But guess what? I have no wings. I plunge to my death. You want to save me. But you can't go back in time and change it because you don't have a time machine. Does that mean that neither of us had free choice? We just don't have total control over our environment. We're not GODS.

So what is it that you don't get here?

Get past semantic questions like "what then is to distinguish between the world of choice and the world of fate?". And just look at the facts. Certain things happened. THEY HAPPENED. Even with a time machine like the gate you can't change them. It's beyond your power. But that doesn't mean everyone involved didn't have free will. Planes crash. Floods happen. Good stuff. Bad stuff. Not everything is even ABOUT free will. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Response recorded on December 01, 2000

Bookmark Link

Todd Jensen writes...

One thought of my own about the "fate/free will" argument. Somebody cited Demona in "Vows" as an example of this, arguing that because her future self who visits her in 975 is evil, Demona's doomed to become evil herself regardless of what she does.

Actually, my own thoughts on this was that the seeds of Demona's future character are already present even before Demona-1995 meets her. After all, she's already working for the Archmage, and stealing for him, suggesting that she'd started down that path already.

Greg responds...


I'm not saying Demona didn't influence Demona. But Demona had a choice. And so did Demona. She chose to do certain things despite Goliath's warnings and so did Demona. :)

Response recorded on December 01, 2000

Bookmark Link

Aris Katsaris writes...

Time travel yet again!

Vashkoda> Ah, I think I get better now what you are talking about... I think I had a couple similar ideas when (pre-Gargoyles) I was trying to explain to myself the "working-paradox" of the Star Trek episode Time's Arrow. It's the episode where Data's head is discovered (among other things) in an archaeological dig, which leads Enterprise back in time to discover what happened, which causes Data to lose his head, etc, etc. I had then thought that perhaps once upon a meta-time (or "cycle" of time) , the Enterprise went for a different reasons in the past, there Data lost his head, etc. That's similar to your "missing origin" scenario, I think, right?

But the thing is that the butterfly effect still tears this down. In a sense there can be *no* small adjustments in the timestream, because there's no scientific distinction between "small" or "great" - the tiniest change in the combination of my parent's genes (a literally microscopical change) creates a individual which looks more like my brother, rather than like me. I really feel that a universe which has Xanatos in poor clothing go back in 975 couldn't possibly create a Napoleon (or Xanatos himself) the same way that a universe with Xanatos going back with rich clothing would... *Any* change means *huge* change...

(The Earth without Data's head buried in it couldn't have realistically spawned the same Picard/Riker/Data/Enterprise as the Earth *with* Data's head... Therefore the former idea of a "missing origin" must be disproven...)

Greg responds...

The thing about "Time's Arrow" that stunned me was that they actually DID a working paradox episode. Normally, Star Trek shuns that. In fact, I've gotten so used to them shunning it, that I no longer make that a criteria of enjoyment.

Response recorded on November 21, 2000

Bookmark Link

The Mighty Thor writes...


Ok here goes nothing, the gargoyles timeline is uninterupted and no actions made by travelers from the past have and effect on the future because they are already part of the time line. Right? Right

This would then make the gargoyles world a fate based world. Because no decision could change the outcome of the future. Now call me crazy but doesn't that seem very out of place in this universe? I mean most of the characters choices come from another of the characters reminding them of their ability to choose between good and evil.
To say that Demona could not change after "Vows" just because she wasn't fated to.

Also, to have a fate means that there must be some higher power that writes everyone's fate and governs it. But with the introduction of Nokkar and the Space Spawn, the sphere of influence has widended to cover the entire universe!

While this sounds like ramble i actually do have a question.
Was this you intention? To have a world deviod of choice?

Greg responds...

No, of course not. And I didn't create one this time. Not even inadvertently.

Your first paragraph is correct. But your second isn't.

It's your second premise which is flawed.

The fact that you, as an audience member, have god-like knowledge, doesn't change the free choice that each character HAD at the time.

Think of it this way. Let's say you got out a camcorder and shot some footage at a local streetcorner. You see a guy turn right.

Now you show me the footage. I could, by your logic, argue that the guy was FATED to turn right. There's the evidence on the screen right in front of me.

But of course that's specious logic. The fact that the guy can't go back in time (with or without a working time machine) and change the fact that he DID turn right, doesn't mean that he didn't have free will at the time he made his turn. The fact that I can't change the footage doesn't mean that he didn't have free will at that time either.

Our knowledge (whether foreknowledge, in the moment or in hindsight) of how things turned out is neither here nor there in the issue of free will.

Response recorded on November 21, 2000

Bookmark Link

Vashkoda writes...

Hey Aris. Well, the argument about missing loop origins is moot since Greg says there are none. Now I'm more interested in -why- these loops even exist. But I guess I'll explain more what I was thinking when I brought up the "missing origins".

What I reasoned was that for a certain period of time (lets say the first few hundred cycles of time), time was new and malleable and could be "experimented" with. So if Xanatos got his hands on the Gate in the 1990's and then decided he wanted to go to the 900's, he -could-, and yes, it -would- mess with the timestream, but that obviously would have been his intent if he wanted to send himself the coin so that he could be rich. And yes, that would mean that the Xanatos he once was would never have existed because his actions would change his own history (hence the "non-working paradox"). But lets imagine that this situation happened to hundreds of individuals who tried to alter the timestream, and lets say that for the most part, they cancelled themselves out so that they never happened. But for a -few- individuals, maybe their altered history does -not- prevent their getting the Gate and going back in time as they had originally done (even in real life, some people do get their cake and eat it too). Except of course now, the Xanatos who travels back in time is not the same as the Xanatos who originally went back (this one's richer, for example). So small adjustments are made in the timestream, but nothing as drastic as when Xanatos first appeared in the 900's (now the Prince might notice that Xanatos is dressed nicer than before, but at least Xanatos's appearance itself doesn't trigger anything new). So as time as a whole repeats itself, adjustments are made and wrinkles are ironed out until finally everything -works- and makes sense. Sure, it might take hundreds of cycles, but at some point every predicted event will be accounted for and the timestream, at last, becomes "immutable".

And as for the butterfly-effect, who's to say that there originally was a Macbeth, Napoleon, or Kennedy? Maybe they're all the result of Xanatos or some other traveler going back in time? The way I see it, the present as it is now could just be the final result of all the alterations made in time. So it's not a coincidence at all that Goliath still exists when Xanatos comes back from his trip (for all we know, Goliath still exists only -because- of X's trip).

Greg responds...

You just gave me a headache.

Response recorded on November 21, 2000

Bookmark Link

Aris Katsaris writes...

Vashkoda, you said: <<I had hoped that there indeed was a "missing origin" to the time loops, as the presence of such loops would have made a lot more sense to me. >>

This discussion interests me, so I hope nobody minds if I take part in it:

I've read and seen a *lot* of time-travel stories, and I have to say that the "missing origin" concept of time-loops, the idea that there can be time-travel which *does* change history, seems much more filled with plot-holes than the kind of time-travel we saw in Gargoyles.

For example consider your own scenario: That there was once a 975 which *didn't* contain Xanatos as time-traveller. Let's assume that history otherwise goes on as normal and creates a Xanatos which for some reason wants to go back to 975 and change history. Let's assume that he can.

The problem is that if he goes back to 975 he will change history *entirely*. By simply being there for a single second, he will displace certain molecules of air, which (the butterfly-effect) will displace more molecules. After ten years a couple storms will occur which wouldn't have occured, other storms which occur won't. More importantly among the millions of possible gene-combinations for every single child, surely a different one will be made at every conception. *No* individual conceived after Xanatos' arrival in the past will be the same as before his time-travel. By going to the past, Xanatos won't have just erased his own birth from history, he will have erased the births of Macbeth, Napoleon, Lincoln, Kennedy, etc...

The only way to have Xanatos go back to the past, *and* be able to return to an even remotely recognizable world, would be if all the trillions of changes that will take due to his being there are already part of his world's history - aka if there's no "first loop" aka if history is unchangeable... But having someone *both* to be able to change history *and* at the same time change it in such a limited way as to influence only a limited amount of events, is wanting to have your cake and eat it also... Atleast the "unchangeable history" is just illogical for our sequential minds - one could even go metaphysical and say that it's God who put the loops there... The "changeable history" version may be logical, but it's also impossible... :-)

Greg responds...

"changeable history" never seemed very logical to me. Always made me just nuts.

I believe in the big picture, and I believe in sweating the small stuff. And thus the working paradox method of time-travel is the only thing that makes any logical sense to me.

And hell, I don't even have to go down to the molecular level to justify it.

If you try to kill your biological great-great-grandfather and you succeed. Then you will never be born. And if you're never born, than no one ever comes back to kill your g-g-grandfather. And if no one comes back, than your g-g-grandfather doesn't die. If he doesn't die than your are born. If you are born, than he dies.

And so on, and so on, and so on...

A non-working paradox. YUCK.

Response recorded on November 21, 2000

Bookmark Link

Vashkoda writes...

I had hoped that there indeed was a "missing origin" to the time loops, as the presence of such loops would have made a lot more sense to me. My problem is not with grasping the concept of pardoxes, but with understanding the reasoning behind them. When I thought that there had been an actual origin to the loops, the loops made sense because they were initiated by individuals who had access to the Gate and the desire to alter time. But by telling me that these loops have always existed, I begin to wonder why they exist in the first place. Were they made intentionally, meant to serve a particular purpose, or is the timestream just "flawed" (well, maybe flawed isn't the best word, but the presence of random paradoxes certainly make me question the efficiency of who/whatever created the timestream). If the loops are intentional, it begs the question of who arranged for them to happen, and why. Because of its nature, one can't help but think of a time loop as a means to rectify a mistake or improve one's situation (saving yourself from a fatal fall, making yourself rich, etc). But if you're saying that the characters themselves aren't responsible and that loops were always present in the timestream, then one has to look at it from the timesteam's point of view, and what it has to gain from them. Some characters have greatly benefited from the loops (Griff and Xanatos, for example), so does that mean that the timestream is somehow biased to favor certain individuals? (but you'd still have to wonder why the stream went to the trouble of creating a *paradox* to make Xanatos rich or save Griff's life). Or was the timeline "drafted" with errors, which were then fixed via paradoxes when the timestream was finally created? For example, although Xanatos is a New Yorker from the 20th-21st century, the timestream may have goofed and placed him briefly at a Scottish castle in the late 900's. Then, to explain his presence, the stream sent in the Phoenix Gate and placed him in a situation where he would have access to it (this use for the Gate does in fact fit with your description of it as a kind of "pressure valve" for the Timestream--here, acting to fulfill events that were fated but can't otherwise happen within the normal constraints of time and space).

So is the presence of these time-loops intentional (and if so, who is responsible and why?), or is the timestream just "flawed" (for lack of a better word)?

Greg responds...

Why does anything exist at all? I can't define your belief system for you, but whatever system you choose, the loops fit in as nicely as head lice, mountain streams, black holes or whatever.

Response recorded on November 21, 2000

Bookmark Link

Ed writes...

'VOWS' - what an episode. So many twists, so much drama, and some brilliant comedy from the Xanatos family. The thing that always occurred to me when watching this is: who on earth in Shari Goodharz? She only wrote the one episode that I recall and yet this is one of my favourites, if not my favourite outright. And yet she never did anything else. I guess looking at your outline she had a lot of dialogue to work in but even so, it was pretty damn good.

Actually, it always seemed like quite an intense episode to put before a multi-part story. I didn't watch it in order properly until I knew the whole season ('CITY OF STONE' aired at the beginning of the season here in two back-to-back weekends: accompanied with some stunning preview adverts of Demona blasting the stone humans).

Just one reply:

You said…
"But the gate stays open long enough for him to go with. Did it ever occur to her to go somewhen else other than 994? I guess part of it could be chalked up to dim memory. It was over a thousand years ago. And Demona lived through that 1000 years. Even for a very significant event in her life, it must still be very hazy."

Apart from the shock factor of the castle still burning (in this episode) and Goliath in stone, I think this would have meant most to Demona. But another possible explanation is in your outline:
"But choosing requires incredible concentration. Otherwise, the chooser's emotional or mental whim of the moment may cause the gate to drop everyone off at Burger King instead of Fort Knox."

Seeing as how Demona claims to have a clear memory of Goliath's 'inspirational' presumably this is the thought that would have dragged her to 994.

I really like your explanation of the Gate's changing size as being due to its 'time valve' function. Was this something you ever planned to develop or at least mention out loud in the series? I guess we'd get some hints from what you've told us about 'TIMEDANCER' so far.

Greg responds...

I LIKE you're explanation for Demona's choice A LOT. THANKS!

As for the timestream steam valve theory, it would get some real play in TimeDancer for sure.

Response recorded on November 17, 2000

: « First : « 10 : Displaying #61 - #70 of 85 records. : 10 » : Last » :