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The Past or the Future?
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I mentioned I'm listening to Paul Auster's Oracle Night, which isn't particularly great, though in the section I just listened to, the protagonist, a writer, is given an assignment to adapt H.G. Wells' The Time Machine into a screenplay. He reads the book, and remarks that the social commentary is broad and clumsy, and that Wells "even got the most fascinating aspect of this story, the time travel, wrong".

The protagonist points out an obvious paradox of time travel, that it would contaminate the time stream, and that there would be people popping in and out of our time if it were at all possible. He then contends that besides, most people wouldn't go to the future as the hero of the book does...most people would much prefer to visit the past.

Assuming we're just talking about a fact-finding mission, a survey of the time, and not profiteering or intervention, which direction would you go first?

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