Monday, June 10, 2013

Future Travel II

James suggested sending a probe on ahead.  There's a thought.  What technology the probe is going to have will have variety, so that can be a fun problem solve.  Can it photograph?  Can it detect surveillance?  Poisonous gases?  Population?  Radiation? Each variation would lead to a different place to send it, different conditions.

Probe or personal, the idea of scouting out Washington DC or NYC first seems problematic.  While you could certainly get more information you need more quickly at a place like that, there would be greater risks as well.  Not the place you would want to be walking around without identification or a good explanation for your appearance.  High-value military targets, so radiation risk, ubiquitous surveillance.  And if things had gone deeply wrong with American in 20 years or 100, DC might be the last place you'd want to see.

I am thinking that a place I would know my way around, but could still observe quite a distance while remaining hidden or less-noticeable myself would be good. If you could look down on a familiar city at night and see the lights were out, or no one on the highways, well, then you'd know that it's time to start covering some distance if you're a probe, or start looking for fresh water and a place the few remaining souls might show up.  Communication towers maybe.  Or more positively, if everything looks ducky down below, one could start acquiring info more boldly.  Blue Hill might work for me, or Hooksett Pinnacle.

The point to go to the future would be either to get something cured/fixed, or to have some info to bring back to the present.  Though if it were nice you might decide to stay, even though you'd be a stupid useless person yourself.


james said...

I really would like to avoid drawing attention to myself or the probe. If time travel were possible now, it would be just as possible in the future, and I'd prefer to avoid time police trying to track down unauthorized activity. (Dinosaur Beach, anyone?)

I'd opt for a lightweight drone, at night, with IR camera and something to tune in and record several radio stations. And I'd try to send it to an area I expect to be mostly farmland, say a little north of Indianapolis. Watching the highways tells me if there's been some kind of apocalypse: no/light/medium/heavy traffic; fast or slow; anything going to Chicago or west to St Louis? Is there a glow from city lights? Do the vehicles look optimized for cargo or for armor?

Can I understand the radio? (It might be all digital, maybe even encrypted: no entertainment unless you pay the monthly fee for the new key.) Radio or TV broadcasts would be wonderful resources for me if they used them.

Getting close enough to learn language and customs requires some disguise, and I won't know what that second system should look like until I get the report from the first.

Of course the usual reason for going to the future and returning is for the author to show how wonderful the world would be if it ran on his principles. Stories of going to stay (by time travel, cryogenics, stasis, what have you), give the hero some forgotten skill or hardness (Today We Choose Faces) that the future needs--otherwise you don't have much of a story. If it weren't fictional, you'd have to look long and hard to find some useful skill, and work hard to learn the language, and pray that they don't mind outsiders much.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

You are GOOD at this.

james said...

Thanks. I read too much science fiction...