Any Time Travel = Hitler Won
When my daughter was in high school, any debate team reference to Hitler resulted in an automatic Godwin disqualification. Back in 1990, American author and writer Mike Godwin proposed what has come to be known as Godwin’s Law: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, the longer a discussion continues, the greater likelihood that someone will invoke the specter of Hitler and/or World War II.
For those who write time travel or speculative fiction, the corollary has come to be know as Godwin’s Law of Time Travel.
The first rule of time travel is that any and all modifications made to the timeline result in Hitler winning World War II. Run over a hippy in 1968? Hitler wins.
— colonel_green, ScansDaily
Of course, there are other approaches. One theory says that time travelers actually can’t affect history. For example, let’s say you have an inventor so horrified by the millions killed during the Holocaust and WWII that he or she devotes their life to inventing a time machine. S/he goes back to kill Hitler, but is unsuccessful (this is, after all, a man who survived fifty-plus assassination attempts). Or perhaps our inventor somehow kills Hitler before his rise to power, the Holocaust never happens, and thus s/he would have no reason to invent the time machine in the first place. But if the time machine doesn’t lead to Hitler’s death, then the Holocaust does happen and the inventor creates the time machine and then…
Your head just hurts.
Other theories say that Adolf Hitler is just one man, himself barely in control of the sweep of history, and that events would have happened along the same lines no matter who rose to control in Germany. Or perhaps the results would have been even worse from our historical 20-20 hindsight— Stalin conquers Germany and keeps going, Mussolini becomes more powerful, Franco remains in power for forty years. (Oh, wait…)
Then there is the issue of how much science do you want in your science fiction? Approaches can vary:
1. Supersoft: “Apply Phlebotinum here.”
2. Soft: “Sit here and set the dial to the year you want.”
3. Hard: “Let me tell you about my theory, which integrates every piece of quantum physics from Einstein to Hawking.”
4. Super Hard: “There is no such thing as time travel.”
My review: 4 stars out of 5 for Isabella’s Airman by Sofia Grey
As she mentioned in her guest post here, Sofia Grey has to consider paradoxes when writing her time travel series, Out of Time. In the soft time-travel future world she creates, survivors of the horrors of a third World War create a future that promises safety from the war-prone emotions of the past. But the cost is high.
It was a stark reminder of why our society existed in the form it did today. The Internet no longer existed. Information was controlled. Emotions were recognized to be dangerous, and love was the most powerful and destructive of them all.
Procreation occurs in test tubes. Students are sent as time-travellers to learn from the past, but are strictly forbidden to interfere in any way that might affect the timeline. Enforcement and protection of the timeline is the job of ghardians, elite soldiers who are trained to do whatever it takes to prevent any actions that might affect the future in any way. But when time-travel student Isabella arrives in World War II England, she realizes that the young man she’s fallen in love with will be killed. If she tries to prevent his death, she faces capture and prison from the ghardians. Even worse, any disruption of the timeline could result in unimaginable future consequences.
In a time-travel romance with soft science, there are a few obvious choices for conflict resolution. Does the traveller realize that in a clash of time periods and cultures, their love is already doomed, and the couple must go their separate ways? (Snort. This is a romance, folks. Get real) Perhaps there’s a Love-Conquers-All approach with a Brigadoon-like exception that reunites the lovers? Does the time-traveller pull off a sleight of hand where the lover appears to die, only to be rescued and whisked off to another time without disruption of the timeline? Or maybe there is a lot of science and thriller stuff where people risk all to be together? Oh, I really want to tell you the answer, because Sofia Grey’s creative solution takes most of the above resolutions, turns them upside down, and pulls off a winner. But that would risk spoilers, right?
So let me just say that I thought Isabella’s Airman is an excellently written and delivered example of a time-travel romance. We get to see Isabella grow from a timid girl to a woman willing to risk all to be with her lover. The action moves quickly between time periods, supplying both a satisfying amount of historical detail and creative world building for the future. I enjoyed the first book in the series, Lila’s Wolf, but I think this one is both more fun and—perhaps because of the time period—easier for me to relate to. It stands alone easily, but if you read it, you’ll want to go back for the first book anyway. And, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to wait for the next book in the series because the clues are all there for the ghardians and the time-travelers to take a serious look at just what happened in World War III.
*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
- Book Title: Isabella’s Airman (Out of Time, Book 2)
- Author: Sofia Grey
- Genre: Time-Travel Romance
- Publisher: Hartwood Publishing
- Length: 152 pages
- Release Date: 4 June, 2015
Time travel student Isabella Gillman is about to embark on her most challenging assignment–leaping back to 1941 to observe World War II. The rules are simple: don’t get emotionally involved, and don’t interfere.
She breaks the first rule when she falls in love with rear-gunner Davy Porteous. The second is on its way out as well, when she realizes history says he won’t survive the war. Torn between the fundamental laws of her society, and the man she loves, Isabella faces a harsh reality: does she risk both their lives for a future that may not happen?
She can’t predict the results if she corrupts the timelines, but without her actions, Davy is out of time.
My quiet words hung between us. Inside, I cringed. There was no reason ever to tell the natives why we were there or to hint at future tech. Nothing would corrupt the timelines quicker than a peek at the future, and I felt cold at the secret I almost revealed.
Davy replaced his cup in its saucer, and then reached across the table and touched the back of my hand. My gaze leaped to meet his. “Maybe when I go on leave next time, you might come with me? I could take you to Hadrian’s Wall and to sample my mum’s baking.”
Shame flooded me at the deception I was creating. I couldn’t look at him. I tucked both hands in my lap and stared down at the table. The tea left a bitter taste in my mouth, or maybe that was guilt? This was so unfair.
I didn’t even realize I was trembling until Davy spoke in a low, pained voice. “I’m sorry, Isabella. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”
Looking up, I saw the hurt in his eyes and the way his jaw tightened. “I’m sorry,” I blurted. “I can’t do that.”
His mouth twisted, but he didn’t look away. “I’ve only known you a couple of days, and I know it’s too soon to be making plans, so don’t say no. Not yet.” He hesitated. I wondered if he could hear how loud my heart was pounding. “Let’s just take it as it comes. One day at a time.” His lips curved in a ghost of a smile. “Can we do that?”
I longed to say yes. This was supposed to be a fact-finding exercise and a step toward an excellent grade for the field trip. Over a pot of tea in a bustling café, it had grown into something I didn’t recognize.
“Isabella?” His voice was soft, coaxing me to speak. I remembered when he said my name that first night. The gentle lilt, the way it rolled off his tongue like an endearment. I swallowed. I was in way over my head already.
Still he watched me. Tension vibrated in the air. I couldn’t say yes, but it would kill me to say no. The paper I’d written was meaningless. Their chances of survival—this man’s chance—was dependent on more than proximity to home. He wanted someone to come back to.
There was a lump in my throat the size of a rock. “One day at a time.”
His smile was real this time. “That’s all right, then.” He slid the plate of forgotten carrot cake toward me. “We start with cake.”