One could argue that as to date no working time machine exists then all talk of time travel falls under the category of “fiction”. However, whilst it is true that some methods of time travel have not yet been scientifically proven, others do have a firm scientific foundation. Whether or not this foundation is solid enough to lead to a working time machine…time will tell, but it does mean that these methods of time travel are perhaps slightly less fictional than others. I call these methods of time travel “scientifictional” and have written more about them here.
Should fiction involving time travel be focussed about the time travel itself, or can time travel be used as a tool to allow authors to write about the past or present? Personally, I find the former case interesting and in line with one of the principles of science fiction in that technologies or techniques which are not currently possible are applied and taken to interesting situations and conclusions. This allows the interesting bits of time travel such as the methodologies and the paradoxes to come to light.
Time travel takes a less dominant role in the latter approach, where time travel is used as more of a carriage to transport a reader or viewer to another time. In this sense, time travel is hardly different from geographical travel in that in both cases the reader or viewer is invited to participate in a story line which takes place in an alternative setting.
There is no correct ‘answer’, and whether we prefer time travel as a tool for a journey or as a means to a destination is of course purely personal. I suppose we should be content that time travel makes an appearance at all!
I’ll be posting reviews of book and movies etc. featuring time travel on my blog. Clearly reviews are subjective and they should be read in that light, but the synopses, and the description of the methods of time travel, I hope, are factual. The reviews are written from the point of view of a time travel enthusiast, i.e. the theme of time travel in the book is the primary indicator.
Like most, my own time is currently limited and naturally I have not yet read or watched all of the books and movies and such-like where time travel makes an appearance. I’ll be updating pages as time permits!