Recently a discussion went into odd territory as someone brought up something I’d nearly forgotten about, John Titor.
John Titor is the name used on several bulletin boards during 2000 and 2001 by a poster claiming to be a military time traveler from 2036. In these posts, Titor made numerous predictions about future events, some vague and some quite specific, starting with events in 2004. He described a drastically changed future in which the United States had broken up into five smaller regions, the environment and infrastructure had been devastated by a nuclear attack, and most other world powers had been destroyed. Before the timeframe of his predicted events came and went, Titor’s story invoked curiosity and received attention around the world. In the decade following his appearances on the internet, fiction and music were written about him, and his origins were investigated by journalists and others.
Well, a lot of his very major predictions failed to come true, so even with an explanation for why they wouldn’t exactly match, there’s more than enough reason to write it off as an interesting hoax.
Nevertheless, the discussion reminded me of something else, a short, freely available, story by Dan Simmons that also involved time travel, and got him put on the badthinkers list. “April 2006 message from Dan.”
The stranger smiled … almost sadly I thought. “You asked me to prove that I’m a Time Traveler,” he said softly. “Do you remember how Grimwood’s character in Replay went hunting for others in the 1960’s who had traveled back in time from the late 1980’s?”
I did remember now. I’d thought it clever at the time. The guy in Replay, once he suspected others were also replaying into the past, had taken out personal ads in major city newspapers around the country. The ads were concise. “Do you remember Three Mile Island, Challenger, Watergate, Reaganomics? If so, contact me at . . .”
Before I could say anything else on this New Year’s Eve of 2004, a few hours before 2005 began, the stranger said, “Terri Schiavo, Katrina, New Orleans under water, Ninth Ward, Ray Nagin, Superdome, Judge John Roberts, White Sox sweep the Astros in four to win the World Series, Pope Benedict XVI, Scooter Libby.”
“Wait, wait!” I said, scrambling for a pen and then scrambling even faster to write. “Ray who? Pope who? Scooter who?”
“You’ll recognize it all when you hear it all again,” said the stranger. “I’ll see you in a year and we’ll have our conversation.”
“Wait!” I repeated. “What was that middle apart . . . Ray Nugin? Judge who? John Roberts? Who is . . .” But when I looked up he was gone.
“White Sox win the Series?” I muttered into the silence. “Fat chance.”
Go read it.