30 Stories in 30 Days #4 – “Unkilling Your Grandfather”
Unkilling Your Grandfather:
How to Sidestep That Pesky Paradox
The best way to prevent the paradoxical death of an ancestor (commonly known as the Killing Your Grandfather Paradox) is to never kill them in the first place. Despite all the warnings in every model time machine, every year scores of travelers kill an ancestor either by accident, trick, or for the adrenaline rush. Know your ancestry and either avoid your ancestors or be careful.
If – for whatever reason – you do kill one of your ancestors, don’t panic. There is a ripple effect as the temporal changes spread to the future. This ripple has been measured at 137 seconds per decade. So you should have a few minutes to correct the matter before you are unborn.
Never try to fix a paradox by creating a direct paradox, i.e., going back to stop yourself. There is one documented case where four direct paradoxes did cancelled each other out (the Ramos Incident popularized in the holo The Three-Sided Woman) but experts agree that was a one in a trillion chance.
Try to stop yourself with indirect paradoxes. An example of an indirect paradox is arranging some accident to delay your ancestor from arriving at where you killed them. If successful, you will experience the Temporal Twist as the timeline unkinks. Those who have gone through the Twist inevitable describe it as being turned inside out. If you do experience the Twist, consider yourself lucky, and receive medical care as soon as possible. Side effects can range from nausea to mysterious growths.
If you are unable to stop yourself with an indirect paradox, and it was a male ancestor you killed, there are kits available to harvest genetic material for implantation into the appropriate female ancestor. However, if you forcibly impregnate the woman (given that you probably only have a few minutes at most, you probably don’t have the time for seduction) you can be charged with temporal rape. If it was a female ancestor you killed, there are artificial womb kits, although their effectiveness is spotty at best.
Despite the risks, meeting your ancestors can be a rewarding experience, as long as you take care to avoid creating paradoxes. Enjoy your trip.
The Paradox Prevention Council