The Mystery of the Lost Pages Of H. G. Wells
“A lot of things to know even if there were some credible theories to invent a device to transport me back into the distant past, perhaps to the birth of philosophy when it was discussed over a feast of wild fowl, grapes, wine and cheese, assuming I could eat the sustenance safely without getting sick and dying in the past unless I brought the right curative. Its also conceivable that transporting nineteenth century bacteria with me would expose them and I could effectively destroy the past, present and future or any hope that my work will ever be published.”
These words are among torn pages recently discovered in an old trunk found in a London flea market and identified as the lost pages of H. G. Wells early work, Experiment in Autobiography, where he ponders some of the less technical aspects of time travel before writing his classic work, The Time Machine first published in 1895. “Going back in time would involve much more than mastering physics. There would need to be considerable knowledge of the social structures, dress codes, and be linguistically fluent in ancient languages in order to appear contemporary to all those alert philosophers who viewed the study of the unknown with suspicion.”
A task of immense proportions he considered on pages now brown and cracked from exposure to moisture and time, “I began to be consumed by time travel, I accept its conceivability, and although not possible now I shall be prepared for the time when it is, by unleashing the imagination to explore the possibilities. Discovering the truth of history for my own sake, introspective perhaps, but also a basis for a story creating a collective fantasy to aspire to.” Interesting words from an author uncomfortable with the time in which he was born.
Realistically, the invention of a time machine would effectively make anyone who used the device an applied anthropologist. Subjecting the traveler to a culture they are not prepared to join even with diligent research since all we know about the ancient world is from tools, text and art. Although these may reveal many things, there is nothing about a smooth transition or how to blend in and survive if it were possible to physically transport to a particular era. Many would not survive the trip, getting caught up in its dramatic events such as politics or war, unable to retain temporal distinction. Those that did survive would not be guaranteed a successful second trip, since each journey would involve unique circumstances requiring adaptation.
One reasonable observation about time travel can be made with relative certainty: If going into the future is the unknown, then traveling into the past is going into the unknown of the imperfectly known.