The Ryan Report -- Episode 304 "Punked"
Ryan's Bio | Read the episode recap
When I was a teenager, I was a voracious reader – I’d read anything and everything. From Catcher In the Rye to Catch-22, I devoured whatever I could get my hands on. I was especially a fan of science fiction books. I’d go down the entire sci fi section in the library, reading each and every book on the shelf.
What I liked most about sci fi was the idea that the things they wrote about could happen – that this was one of the possible futures that awaited us. It gave me possible answers to the questions I had. What would life be like a hundred years from now? What would I have for breakfast, how would I get around – all those sorts of things.
But the sort of sci fi book I liked the best? They weren’t just the ones set in the future, they were the ones where people travelled through time. I mean, I just couldn’t get enough of those stories, I read and re-read them constantly. H.G. Well’s The Time Machine, Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder, John Wyndham’s The Seeds of Time –I’d read these and all the others until they were ragged, the covers falling apart, the binding broken.
It was a way of making me wonder about what it would be like if I, with all my knowledge of the future and seemingly sophisticated ways, was whisked off to a different time. Would I fit in with everyone there or would I seem like some incredibly brilliant wizard from a future land? What would it be like to see the Sistine Chapel being painted or the Brooklyn Bridge being built? Would I fall in love with a girl in the 1600’s and be cruelly yanked back to the future without her OR would I be able to bring her back and amaze her with all the sights and sounds of the modern world?
My friends never got it – I was constantly getting razzed about it. Well, they razzed me about reading in general, but they especially teased about the time travel obsession. “If I was gonna time travel,” they’d say, “I’d go back two days and pick the winning lotto numbers.”Or else they’d talk about going back a thousand years with a “bazooka” and taking overthe world – as if that was some sort of realistic option. (Although using the phrase “realistic option” when discussing time travel is a bit ludicrous.)
Of course, as I grew up, I kept on reading, but for some reason I drifted away from the time travel books. Oh, I still check them out from time to time (I had to hide my copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife from Espo’s prying eyes), but it isn’t the obsession that it used to be. I guess maybe I wanted to stop teasing myself with the idea that it might happen. I mean, not that I actually thought it would happen… okay, maybe I did just a bit. After all, we were supposed to have jetpacks, robot butlers, and live in underwater cities by the year 2000! Time travel didn’t seem that far off.
Still, nowadays I have my hands full just dealing with the time I live in. But the other night, for some reason, I was checking out my old copy of A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court and Jenny noticed. Turned out when she was young, she was obsessed with time travel too! We stayed up late going over all the books we used to love reading… and the next day we hit up Strand Bookstore to pick up a bunch of them.
So the other day, I did get to travel in time with Jenny. Back to our childhoods and we even picked up some souvenirs. And you know what? It was as great as I always thought it would be.