The Little Man and the Time Travel Paradox

I am a fan of time-travel stories1 but there is a paradox about time travel that is rarely addressed in these stories. Sure, the stories tackle all sorts of thorny paradoxes (think Back to the Future), but with rare exception, they avoid the biggest paradox of them all: if someone in the future has invented the ability to travel into the past, why aren’t we seeing time traveler coming from the future?

Well, it may be that They Are Among Us, and it may very well be that my own little boy, the Little Man, is one of them. The Little Man is just a few months shy of four years old and recently, he has been telling us some interesting stories. It started out with vague references, like, “Daddy, when I was big, I used to go to work in a store.” When I first heard him say something like that I questioned it.

“When you were big?” I asked.


“How long ago were you big.”

The Little Man pondered this for a moment and finally settled on a response. “Ummm, four–six months ago.”

He as become more specific lately. For instance, he recently announced, “When I was six, I painted the whole house.”

It seems clear from these discussions that the Little Man actually comes from the future, and furthermore, he lived his life backwards like Benjamin Button–at least until a few months ago when he started aging normally again.

Of course, I try to be encouraging. And indeed the nature of our conversations have changed lately. Instead of sitting around explaining to him all of the different years the Yankees won the World Series. (“Let’s see, the first one during my life was 1977. Then again in 1978. There was a dry spell and then 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and most recently 2009.”) I have started asking him questions. Like: “Will the Yankees win the world series this year? How about in 2015?”

The real question, of course, is: should I trust his answers? (You should hear what he has to say about the 2017 Super Bowl!)

  1. My favorites include Connie Willis; Blackout/All Clear and Doomsday Book; Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line; Jack McDevitt’s Time Traveler Never Die; Audrey Niffennegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife; Robert Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer; and Stephen King’s 11/22/63.


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