Call it a writing prompt–nothing to do with being clueless about what to write–honest!
Now, how many nations do you think have a special department all fixed up and waiting for the arrival of someone from the future? And what would this (hopefully, really, really boring) department do?
Let’s see. Surely the US would do something this silly and wasteful of the taxpayer’s dollar. So . . . They’d need someone to debrief the Time Traveler—there ought to be a good reason to send someone back. You know, along the lines of “Don’t test that FTL drive inside the confines of the Earth’s magnetic field.” or “The Islamic Terrorists are moving a renovated Soviet nuke into NY harbor on such and such freighter” or “Stop this University lab from making a super flu.” “There’s this comet . . .”
So the person in charge would need to be known and trusted by the President.
They’d need a phone number that never changed, or was well documented, so the time traveler could call them up and report in.
The job, of course, is to get the right people notified of the pending disaster, and stop it before it happens.
And then, having averted some horrible disaster, they’d either assist the time traveler in getting home, or if return wasn’t possible, they’d supply him or her with ID and . . .
And, really, who would take a job like that seriously?
Of course as a writer, I’d have some bright-eyed Nerd who’d actually dig in and get ready . . .
“I have to employ the President’s worthless daydreaming nephew? Why my department?”
“You lost the toss.” The Secretary of Homeland Security looked amused.
“What toss? What the hell am I supposed to do with . . . wait a bit. You know, I do have a tiny division that does practically nothing . . . I can put him in there and we can all just forget about him.”
“I knew I could count on you to take him for the sake of the nation!”
“Actually I owe the poor schmuck stuck there a favor, and he wants out so bad . . . “
“A one man division?”
“I did say that it did nothing, didn’t I?”
“Point. Just make sure he doesn’t have a big enough budget to get into trouble.”
“No. Problem. A desk, a computer, an internet connection . . . he can just play games all day for all anyone cares.”
Yes, yes, now what does he do to get ready? And what happens when a time traveler actually shows up?
Go on, you all know you want to write something like this. Tell us what poor person would YOU stick in this job, and what preparations is he going to make?
😀 And what does he or she do when no one takes him seriously?
There would of course be red flag markers in this person’s FBI and IRS files to monitor for sudden unusual atypical sports betting or stock acquisitions. Or a sudden and unexplained display of wealth.
To prosecute or cover up?
Put me in such a department and I’d take it seriously. Because as dumb as the government is as whole, such a department would only be created *after* the first such incident. As for how to prepare, I’d attempt to locate every bit of material I could find, fiction or non-fiction, that theorized on what would occur if you changed something; rather than looking at all of those silly stories regarding the Grandfather Paradox (and similar theories) that like to assume you cannot change the future.
Well, only one way to find out . . . when a Time traveler does shows up.
So . . . how can you know whether his motives are benign, and not partisan, or worse, the last desperate gasp of an enemy trying to reverse his defeat?
I did think it would be a fun plot twist for the antagonist in a medieval fantasy story turn out to be a time traveller from the future trying to change their own time line.
This was originally a game idea, and the tip off would have been the music changed from a medieval style Scarborough Fair to a chip tune version: (caution link may automatically play music) http://contemplator.com/england/scarboro.html
I’m writing a story with something like that, only it’s a small group loosely attached to Homeland Security that’s looking for aliens. Nixon shut down Project Blue Book, mostly because he associated everything space-related with Kennedy, and he still hated Kennedy. A few of the most dedicated people managed to get Ford to start a new program, but they had to keep it quiet.
So, fifty years later, this bunch of misfits are assigned to investigate a mysterious hole in the ground, and a few muddled reports that a strange person was seen in the middle of it…
My character would be a hacker. He accumulate IDs. Possibly soldiers KIA, without relatives. Have an assortment ready for the travelers, just need to swap any fingerprints on file. I wonder if he has a budget? Transportation, weapons . . . it would all depend on the mission.
And trust. “We’re here to kill the Tyrant. When he’s a little kid. Save billions of lives. Literally. What year is this? At this distance or range of error is ten years. We think.”
“2022 . . . AD or CE.”
“Damn, well, we’ll just his mother before he’s even conceived. So, how do we find Mary Elizabeth Snodgrass?”
“My little sister!”
I’m reminded of “illegal aliens” by Phil foglio and nick pollotta. The UN maintains a First Contact team. 5 people who have spent the last twenty years sitting in a basement playing poker. Then a ufo lands in Central Park
As for the time travel agent story: od want the presidents feckless, daydreamer, son to be a sci fi fan who just doesn’t want to be in politics. He’s not actually dumb, or even lazy; it’s just that he’s so different from his career politics family, that they don’t understand him at all (bit if a self-insert for a lot of us) but the job interests him, and he starts to realize that there are time traveller’s. They are all over the place and are fighting constantly, and it’s up to him to figure out what the he’ll is going on.
That’s my take.
What if the person who started the Time Traveler Watch/Contact department was a Time Traveler himself (or herself) and was still involved in the department (perhaps secretly as this person had longevity treatments).
Of course, if the department was an Alien Watch/Contact department, it might be interesting if one or more associated with the department were stranded Aliens.