Time And Travel In Science Fiction.

Butler would agree with Asimov. when asked to label her novel, she has called it “a grim fantasy.” How time travel occurs in Kindred is never explained. the novel’s protagonist Dana simply feels dizzy from time to time and travels back in time, to pre-Civil War America. It is a mystery to her and to her husband, but they try to deal with the situation they have found themselves in, anyway. The only way she is able to return back to her own time is to feel threatened and in danger of dying. She even tries slitting her wrists in order to return to her own time. Each time she travels back in time, she stays on the plantation becomes longer—at first only a few minutes, and then several days and months. She disappears from the present as she travels, but at first for a few seconds and then for several hours.

It seems as if Dana time travels to the past every time Rufus is in some kind of mortal danger. The first time she travels, he is drowning. the second time, she saves him from dying in a fire. She discovers that the reason he “calls” her to the plantation is that he is her ancestor and it is her duty to save him so that she is preserved in the future. At the end of the book, however, she ends up killing him and experiences horrible consequences as a result—the mangling of her arm when she returns to the present. Perhaps the real reason she has to time travel is because it is Rufus’ destiny to die, and there is nothing she can do to prevent it.

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Although Butler was already established as a successful science fiction writer, one of the few African Americans in a white male-dominated field, the time travel in Kindred, is incidental. It is simply something she uses to illustrate her thesis about the horrors of slavery.

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