Time Travel Stories That Explore What It Means To Be Human

Time Travel Stories That Explore What It Means To Be Human

The inspiration for Cassandra In Reverse came—as art sometimes does—from heartbreak, or something quite like it. A short but intense relationship that unravelled so quickly, and so unexpectedly, I was left reeling. What had gone wrong? Was it my fault? What could I have done differently? Caught in a familiar, never-ending thought-loop, I spent months trapped inside my own head: obsessively re-running the entire relationship in enormous detail, looking for clues, searching for the point where it all went wrong. If I could just go back and tweak it—say the right thing, understand a facial expression I completely misinterpreted—would it have had a different ending? Would it, perhaps, not have ended at all? As I worked through this familiar yet confusing process—carefully editing a memory and allowing my imagination to play out the consequences in detail—I slowly realized it was an idea for a book: a woman, gifted with the power of time travel, who initially uses it to try and fix her relationship. But, when I pitched it to my agent, she had a few understandable questions. Why would anyone become so hyper-fixated on a short-term relationship like that? Why obsess, and repeat, and re-run? Why not just… let go and move on? The answer to that question came with my autism diagnosis, a few years later. As I grappled with understanding my own neurology properly for the first time, I realized that the way I thought and behaved was tied, inexorably, to the fact that I was autistic. The need to repeat, to loop, to hyper-fixate, to obsess, to examine, to study, to analyze: I did it because I was autistic. Thus, rather than being a time-travel book with an incidentally autistic protagonist, this was a protagonist who time travelled because she was autistic: because the very act of time travel was, on a macroscopic scale, a version of what goes on in her brain anyway. I think there's a part of every human who wonders if editing a part of their life would make a difference to where they ended up. But, in using time […]

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