TIME TRAVEL by J.H.Brennan (Review)

This book is subtitled “A Guide for Beginners”. It is, in the sense that it assumes no previous knowledge, but it also covers an awful lot of ground.

Did you know that geologists have occasionally found modern or futuristic artifacts in rock strata millions and even billions of years old? For instance, the various solid metal balls discovered in layers of Precambrian sediment in the Western Transvaal, South Africa, must be at least 2.8 billion years old. “They have the appearance of artifacts, balls manufatured in a factory from specially toughened steel for a specific purpose. Yet on the face of it, they can’t be man-made.” Why not? Well, for a start, at that time the only living creatures around were algae and bacteria and a few primitive jellyfish. Unless there were visitors from elsewhere – or elsewhen.

It’s not just the metal balls, either. A wall built of polished cubical blocks, yes, a wall, 150 yards long, in a coal seam in Oklahoma at least 260 million years old. A gold chain inside a lump of coal. An iron pot inside another large piece of coal. A human footprint – I’m not kidding – some 500 million years old.

According to the author, it far more likely that the visitors to these bygone ages travelled there through time than through space. In Part II, The Physics, he tells us why, starting with a discussion of our common-sense view of time and comparing this with the very un-common-sense views put forward by philosophers ancient and modern (ie those who really thought about it), by the founders and gurus of the various religions, by physicists and astronomers. And he comes to the conclusion that “it is not time that flows like a river carrying us along from a disappearing past into a constantly created future. Rather, it seems we are the ones who ‘flow’.” Which is to say, time doesn’t pass; we pass, through time. I couldn’t agree more.

Another very interesting point the author raises later in the book is whether “flying saucers” are in fact time machines. As he says, UFOs are not to be dismissed out of hand. There is just too much evidence for their physical existence. They even show up on radar screens. Again, is it more likely they come from elsewhere, or elsewhen? And the occupants don’t seem all that alien; on the contrary, they seem all too human!

A brilliant and thought-provoking introduction not simply to time travel but to the whole question of what we mean by TIME.

(That statement above – “Time doesn’t pass; we pass, through time” – comes from the novel TIME SLAVE by John Norman, an SF classic which I will review here asap.)