Friday, 21 October 2016

Rambling thoughts on killing Hitler via time machine

Anyone writing time travel sooner or later trips over the trope of Going Back In Time To Kill Hitler - I did while procrastinating researching Time Rats 3. It's a fascinating topic that raises lots of questions. For instance, why is it always Hitler? If you were going to kill an evil dictator because of all the deaths he caused, Mao Zedong and Stalin should be first in the queue. They were responsible for a total of 100 million deaths to Hitler's 30 million. You can see a list of evil dictators here in order with photographs - and what a vile and unattractive bunch of men they are.

I'm slightly irked by the commonplace delusion that just because you've gone back in time, that somehow gives you access to historical figures. If you can't get to chat with the Dalai Lama, Theresa May or Barack Obama in 2016, why would you expect to get anywhere near famous people in historical times? (Socrates and Jesus are probably the exceptions here. They were both renowned for talking to ordinary people.) Once he reached power, Hitler survived 42 known assassination attempts, so was not an easy target. If you sensibly decided it would be simpler to kill Hitler before he was famous, you've still got to find him. At the very least, you'd need to learn German. Training as a sniper would be useful.

As to the morality of killing to save life, have a go at this Moral Machine questionnaire about the choices a driverless car might need to make. In various scenarios, you choose from a series of alternatives which group the car should plough into given a choice. My results showed that I favoured fit human females over everyone else. That'll be the offspring. Cats didn't figure - I turned out to be far more ready to sacrifice cats than most people. My reasoning was that cats don't have relatives whose lives would be ruined by their death. See how you do.


  1. Replies
    1. There's a surprising amount of discussion of this topic on the internet...

  2. The best time machines are like sat-navs. You just dial in time and place (or person) and you materialise on the spot, gun at the ready. History has frozen them so there is no escape!

    If you do succeed in altering the historical time line then you switch to a parallel universe which may be better or worse ... Be careful what you mess with!!! LOL

    1. I dunno, Q, I can't see History helpfully freezing people just so you could kill them. I always found History to be rather difficult at school - I don't suppose it has mellowed since. But I agree, best not to mess with the past.

  3. Lexi, History records events that have happened so the time machine technology has access to every event .... so no escape. Once past events are changed though, you slip to a parallel universe with a different History .... I think!

    Have you ever considered expanding into the time slip genre?

    copy of a post from


    Congrats to PJ and her worthy band of reviewers on seven years of fascinating book news ... long may it continue!

    Scanning through the comments, I'm a little disapointed that after seven years I seem to be the only obvious male attracted to this delicious honey pot ... Any ideas on how to attract more?

    For new authors I discovered two 'time slip' specialists this year, both living in England not too far from me: Pam Hartshorne and Christina Courtenay. Would be great if interviews could be arranged for the blog!

    Special trips this year included a visit to Avebury with the awesome neolithic standing stones, nearby White Horses and Tudor Manor. Its not far from Stonehenge so the two could make a nice pre-historic day out.

    Highlights have included excellent weather for trips to the English coast and the historic decision for the UK to leave the European Union. The union started as a trading bloc but has now become dominated by politics and the creation of a supranational state.I think many in the UK want to keep national democracy and establish wider trading links with the rest of the world

    Anna Campbell

    Quantum, can I recommend two more wonderful time slip books? Nicola Cornick's House of Shadows and Christine Wells's The Wife's Tale. And another one I haven't yet read but everybody raves about is Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey. It's a genre I really enjoy.


    Hi Anna. Thanks for those recommendations. Nicola is already on my radar but Iona Grey and Christine Wells are new to me ... and both available in audio. :)
    I'm really enjoying the time slip concept. Always been fascinated by time in physics but time travel fiction often feels too far fetched to me. This genre, exploiting memories and sometimes ghosts from the past, has a plausibility for me that makes the novels compelling.

    Can we look forward to an Anna Campbell time slip in due course? my visit to Avebury made me think that prehistoric memories slipping into the present could be fascinating!

    1. My friend Anna who commented above has written a time slip novel, Hide in Time. I guess it entails more knowledge of history and less mental wrangling than sci fi time travel, though I can see how sites like Avebury would get one's mind working that way.

      I'm quite looking forward to writing a nice restful non-time travel novel as novel number ten...

  4. I will check out 'Hide in Time' when my TBR pile reduces a little ... thanks for the recommendation. Time slips are certainly becoming very popular.

    If you are now dreaming of novel number ten, my arithmetic suggests three more in the time rats series. Clearly lots for us readers to look forward to :)

    1. I don't often mention my first two novels, Torbrek...and the Dragon Variation and Trav Zander, so you may have missed counting them. They are untypical fantasy for non-fantasy enthusiasts, a small readership, but they are quite good I think.