Terra Nova – Or How I Stopped Caring And Learned To Love A Paradox
As we enter the new television season, I begin to scope out the new shows to determine what I’m going to try to watch on Hulu since I work nights. Normally, I would tend to gravitate towards science fiction shows, at least until I determine that they are not all that good. However, there is one show set to debut this fall that has bugged me to death.
That show is Terra Nova.
Granted, at this point, I have not seen the show, just countless previews of it. The show revolves around a future civilization that attempts to restart civilization by sending people into the past to recreate civilization. Ordinarily, a show like this would be sci-fi gold for me, especially when you factor in that they will be fighting dinosaurs.
Yet, for some reason, I can’t seem to get past the logic of the show, or lack thereof.
The big glaring problem point I have is with the whole concept of time travel in the series. Whether it is by means of some technological means, or by some Primeval style time rift (which the web site describes), I just can’t get back the logic. And this is coming from a person who watched Doctor Who.
As I thought about the series (probably my first mistake), I found it more and more difficult to get past the whole concept of time travel. If they were going back in time to recreate a civilization, then why couldn’t they go back to other points in their timeline and “correct” what went wrong. This, of course, is explained by the idea there’s a rift in time which they travel through is set to a fixed point in time.
But, even explaining the time travel by means of the rift, there are still big glaring issues with the time travel that I just can’t get my mind around. If they are going back in time to recreate civilization, then one of two things must happen: they succeed or they fail.
If the attempt succeeds, there two things should be possible. A successful rebuilding of civilization in the past could possibly alter the future. This would mean that the very world that sent them back could possibly not exist anymore. And if that world does not exist, then there could not be anyone being sent back in time to rebuild the future. Thus, a paradox would form.
The other possibility of a successful attempt is that an alternate timeline is created. In this alternate timeline, the new civilization grows, eventually changing the future. Of course, if this is the case, then this alternate timeline would be created the moment they appear in the past. At this point, the intrepid adventurers would be completely cut off from their old world since this is no longer their future anymore. Any future attempts to send people back in time by their old world would only send them back to the old world’s timeline, each time creating a new timeline along with a new mystery: what happened to the previous explorers.
The other option is that the experiment fails. But, if this were the case, then there would be records of such a failure. Archaeologists would have found the remnants of a civilization in the past, remnants that would have been capable of being understood by the year that Terra Nova begins (2149). If they knew that such an experiment would fail, then they would most likely not make the attempt, which would create a paradox. The other option is that the adventurers were sent back in time by scientists that know full well that they were sending these people into the past and into their doom.
There is also the timeframe that bothers me, too. Sure, part of me says, “Cool, dinosaurs,” but then my logical side kicks in. These people are being sent back in time to the era of the dinosaurs. And, currently, the given theory for the die off of the dinosaurs revolves around a big meteor impact. These people are being sent back in time to a point before this impact happens. As bad as the future could be, I would imagine that the world post impact would by as hellish if not worse than the world they left. And even if they are capable of preventing this impact (seemingly unlikely, based on what I’ve seen in teasers), they would have massively altered the timeline, possibly even preventing the dinosaur die off. Which world would be the better one to live in, a dying one, or one in which some gigantic monster could easily make you dead.
Granted, all of this may be one big moot point once I see the show and see how cool the dinosaur effects really are.
- Terra Nova: early speculation (justanothergeekblog.wordpress.com)
- Terra Nova – Follow the Rules or Become Dino-Dinner! (dreadcentral.com)
- Terra Nova: Sci-Fi Sultans Bring Dinosaurs to the Small Screen (wired.com)