Is there any literary device more maligned and misused than time travel? I don’t think any other concept has spawned as much confusion and (ultimately) exasperated resignation in an audience. It’s so hard to get right, so I wonder, why do we keep going back to the well on this? I think maybe it’s the universal human desire to get a “do over”; we all have memories which might have played out differently at our current level of knowledge and wisdom. Who wouldn’t like to go back and correct a few mistakes?
If I’m right, though, there may be no more glaring example of pure irony in the history of entertainment. The list of stories that used time travel in an interesting a novel way are hugely outnumbered by the cliché and confusing examples, yet writers keep dusting the concept off for another go. Despite the overwhelming odds that the next story will end up atop the pile of bad examples, writers continue to venture forth into the world of paradoxes, causality loops, and unexplained mechanisms.
How many of those writers would like to go back in time to stop themselves from failing?
(Warning: this entry contains spoilers.)