Jan 12, 2011

Replay and the Time Loop

Replay by Ken Grimwood uses the science fiction plot device of the time loop - an instance of time played over and over. Usually only one or a few characters are aware of time replaying itself. Replay uses an adult lifetime as the time span relived over and over. Each subsequent life is shorter, so it becomes apparent the gift of time is not forever for the protagonist.

The question of the novel is: what would you do if you could go back and do it all over again retaining the knowledge you have now.

As the main character explores various options, he finds different degrees of happiness and torment. Some he won't chance again. He finds another person reliving lifetimes like he is and they try to find out why it is happening, but they don't figure it out. It just is. Parallelling life itself. We ask: what is it's purpose / meaning. We never really find out.

And if you could live your life over again knowing what you know, would you? Are there forks in the road where you might now decide to go the other way? In some ways, we humans try reliving certain aspects of our lives or to turn back time. We get stuck until we decide to move on or find what we need. Sometimes we get stuck for a very long time. So, is the effort futile?

Anyone else read Replay? I found it a great read and enjoyed making the discoveries of each lifetime along with the main character. What nuggets did you take away from it?

Probably the best known example of the time loop plot is the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray's character relives the same day over and over and he is the only one with memory of it. Another I can think of off-hand is an episode of SG-1, Window of Opportunity, where O'Neil and Teal'c relive the same day over and over.

Would it get tedious? Or would you enjoy reliving a chunk of time again and again with impunity? And I wonder, if we are the sum of our experiences and choices, how would changing them change who we are? Certainly, if we change our choices it effects the people in our lives, too.

Anyone attempt to write a piece using the time loop plot? I would find it very challenging. Hmmm, that means I will think on it and attempt it in the near future.