Here's another idea for a short story which I may or may not write in full: a reverse version of Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder.
Bradbury's classic story, in full form here, is about a group of time travelers who go on a safari to kill a dinosaur and inadvertently change the future by stepping on a butterfly. I'd like to explore the implications of a time traveler who visits the future and realizes how subtle actions he takes in the present can dramatically affect the course of society.
Some notes on how this might play out:
- The time traveler (TT) takes multiple trips to the same time in the future, but the future is markedly different.
- TT realizes the differences are caused by subtle differences in the present - the TT, is a scientist / entrepreneur at the nexus of several fields and, naturally, at the bleeding edge of capabilities (Time Travel is tough science!) so it's fairly reasonable that TT might have a lot of influence over the future.
- Perhaps, due to anti-paradox laws of time travel, TT is only able to visit versions of the future in which he vanished from existence after using the time machine the present.
- After seeing both great and awful versions of the future, TT decides to find a version of the future that is very positive and stay there permanently to ensure that it happens (i.e. so that TT doesn't mess it up in the present.
- TT says goodbye to everyone in the present and makes his final trip to the future. Depending on if I want a twist ending, I might have TT destroy his way of going back to the present only to realize that what he thought was a positive future is actually quite terrible...
Broad themes in the story would include:
- Chaos theory and how slight changes can have huge, unforeseen consequences; just like the original short story
- On how technology is just a tool and can be used for both good and evil. This would play out through the different possible futures illustrate how the same technology can be used and abused.