I am fascinated by time travel. Like many avid readers of SF/fantasy, I have delighted in time travel literature both as a child and an adult. Among my favorite time travel novels are H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine, E. Nesbit’s The House of Arden, Edward Ormondroyd’s Time at the Top, Connie Willis’s Blackout and All Clear, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and Kate Atkinson’s Human Croquet. And I have often reflected on where I would go if I had a chance to travel back in time.
I would travel to the 1960s, which I was did not experience properly the first time, aside from the inevitable bell-bottoms, rock music, and excellent bookstores. My husband would prefer a trip to the 1970s, which he remembers as a mellow decade (and it was). Mind you, we don’t want to return to our childhoods. We want to experience life in the past at the age we are now. And we want to reread the great literature and see the arty movies of the 1960s and ’70s.
What decade would you travel to?
Here are some of the great books of the ’60s and ’70s :
Why the ’60s and ’70s? The quality of life was better. It was before the worst of urban sprawl, huge gas-guzzling SUVS, and climate change. In the ’60s and ’70s, people were anxious about the effect of the media on the culture, as we are today about the effect of social media. “The medium is the message,” said Marshall McLuhan in his writings about how different media shape communications. And radicals were paranoid about mass culture then. We should be paranoid about mass culture now.
Americans were more committed to social issues, or perhaps just more articulate and better-organized: the Women’s Movement, Civil Rights, the Anti-War Movement. And they were more committed to environmental issues: birth control and population control were much discussed (would it have killed us to limit family size to two children?); the first Earth Day teach-in occurred in 1970; Nixon established the EPA in 1970; the Clean Air Act was established as a federal law in 1970; and, lo and behold! there were no plastic bags.
And perhaps best of all, the temperatures WERE more comfortable in the 1960s and ’70s. Here is a comparison of temperatures in my midwestern hometown in July 1968 and July 2018.
Temperatures July 1-5 in 1968:
July 1: high, 84; low, 62
July 2: high, 79, low, 57
July 3: high, 75; low, 51
July 4: high, 79; low, 57
July 5: high, 84; low, 57
Temperatures July 1-5 in 2018
July 1: high, 89; low, 70
July 2: high, 84; low, 61
July 3: high, 90, low, 64
July 4: high, 93; low ,73
July 5: high, 91; low, 73
If only we could have prevented climate change! I hope it we can fix it, but I am not sanguine at this point. Give the power back to the EPA!