In a move which puzzles only the most sane readers, China has banned time travel and similar plot clichés from new television programming. Also under house arrest are myths, superstitions, fantasy, and the dreaded reincarnation. Although not explicitly subject to the ruling, time travel in feature-length movies and scientific research proposals is presumably affected likewise.
No, people. We do not make this stuff up.
Resident China expert and intermittently reincarnated Amerind shaman Wolf Moon sees this as a pre-emptive move against British neocolonialist dreams of literary mindshare domination by Doctor Who, the well-known time-traveler.
“Doctor Who is virtually untouchable in the area of time travel” said Moon, an acknowledged expert on mythical science. “China knows that almost any Chinese time-traveler is going to appear, at best, Ultraman-level goofy next to The Doctor. It’s a complete, gonzo, Dragonball Z-type smackdown. The Chinese leadership knows that it’s going to get its ass handed back to them on a plate if they even try going up against any form of Doctor Who.”
Moon opined that the full extent of the ruling bore this out.
“Clearly the coincident rulings against reincarnation, absurd plots, and ambiguous moral lessons were likewise directed at Doctor Who, if not the entire British time-travel genre.”
He went on to provide examples.
“I challenge anybody to name a single episode of Doctor Who which doesn’t lean on his multiple lives at some point, even when completely unnecessary. Likewise, show me an episode which doesn’t absolutely revel in making a skillful recovery from some form of fundamental and intentionally humorous plot idiocy. And as for ambiguous moral lessons, there is not a single story in the entire franchise which doesn’t question some fundamental human value on the way to saving humanity. It’s SO British. Morally ambiguous? That might as well be The Doctor’s middle name. Or names. Whatever.”
Moon then explained why the ban made sense from the Chinese government’s perspective.
“Time travel is totally a Stephen Hawking pimp job. Yeah, everybody is on the bandwagon now, but Hawking made discussion of it respectable. That puts time travel even more in the Anglo camp. You almost can’t talk about wormholes without a cup of tea in one hand. But the Chinese motherland is through with their artists playing second violin to BBC – it wants them to be number one at something, even if that means making them switch to cello.”
And what’s the new cello in the universal symphony? Moon thinks he knows.
“China knows that there is one area of fake physics at which they’re almost totally unbeatable. Antigravity. Just like time travel in some restricted senses, the jury is still out on it, making it an excellent plot device. It’s also time-agnostic, making it exceptionally versatile in everything from jidai-geki to space operas. But more importantly, China virtually invented the field. You almost can’t do an antigravity scene in the West, and not end up looking like a pale imitation of Asian cinema. China literally OWNS antigravity.”
But if China decides to forgo time travel, can it compete on antigravity alone? Moon did not hesitate to share his surprising viewpoint.
“Personally, I think so. At a very fundamental level, time travel makes you cringe until the people get to whenever they’re going. As a plot device, it basically sucks. It’s only the wealth of new plot possibilities that saves time travel from being just plain dopey. Time travel is – more or less – the crappy web service that lets you go multiplatform in your stories. It’s actually not surprising that the Chinese government can’t stand it.”
In contrast, Moon feels that antigravity is only beginning to show its potential.
“Let’s be honest – antigravity is sexy. It makes guys look unbeatable, and it makes chicks look hot. It cues up with almost any kind of music, too. But even more importantly, at a very fundamental level, you know it works. Maybe not some babe with a sword floating around the tops of the bamboo in a silk dress, but there has to be some real crap going on somewhere in black helicopter-land, even if you have to use vehicles that are circular relative to at least one axis to pull it off. Sure, maybe it’s not antigravity in the strictest fundamental force sense, but it comes close enough to make those foo fighters skate like a bat out of hell. Contrast that with time travel. Some big-friggin’ black hole, or some bass-ackwards particle. BORING. In fact, the closest that you ever really come to time travel is getting a PET scan, since if you get drunk and read Feynman, you can consider that the positrons were really electrons going back in time. Frankly, I’d rather get drunk and watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
We asked Moon if he felt that the ban on time travel would have any negative effects whatsoever.
“Absolutely not. One way or another, it’s going to work out. Let’s say China doesn’t make a ruling against time travel. They get a bad imitation of Doctor Who. Everybody laughs, realizes that China is just as stupid as they are, and gives them a break. Or take the alternative. China makes an idiotic ruling – like banning time travel. Everybody laughs, realizes that China is just as stupid as they are, and gives them a break. It’s a win-win situation, and it’s all thanks to the fake physics that America TOTALLY dominates.”
“Many worlds. Parallel universes. America’s ace in the hole. Sure, you have your time travel – and the damn thing is so full of paradoxes, you might as well give up whatever story you were trying to tell to begin with, so that you can work around all the crap that your fake-science boilerplate kicked up. And antigravity? Sure, it’s romantic, but if you use it more than briefly and occasionally, you end up with the physical equivalent of surrealist rom-com. What about Atlas Shrugged? Sorry, it’s been done. Now – compare that to many worlds. Just one great plot after another. We’re only beginning to see all the crap you can pull off with that one. The literary possibilities are nearly endless. It’s like duct tape and I-beams, all rolled into one. There are centuries of good stories left for many worlds.”
We asked Moon if he felt that it was good that bleeding-edge science was being used increasingly in movies and television.
“I would generally say so. As long as it doesn’t end up in bombs, we’re safe.”
What about the British? Do they need to respond to this seemingly direct attack on their prized genre of science fiction?
“Oh, absolutely” said Moon. “In fact, I suggest that the next reincarnation of The Doctor should especially honor the Chinese leadership for their moment of exuberance in governance.”