Time Travel Stargate Style

By Stephen Cass | August 1, 2008 6:45 pm

Screen capture from Stargate ContinuumThe latest installment in the Stargate franchise has arrived: Stargate Continuum. After the Stargate: SG-1 TV series was cancelled in 2007, the producers opted to bring back the cast in a series of direct-to-DVD movie releases (also available on iTunes and Blu-Ray). Perhaps surprisingly, even after 10 seasons of the original SG-1 and four seasons of its spin-off Stargate Atlantis (the fifth season is currently airing), the Stargate universe feels far from played out, as demonstrated by Continuum. In the Stargate universe, planets throughout the galaxy are linked by a network of wormholes created by the stargates, artifacts of a long-departed civilization. The U.S. Air Force has one of these gates, which it keeps stashed beneath Cheyenne Mountain. Teams sally forth through the gate to explore alien worlds. The producers have done an excellent job of expanding the premise of the original 1994 movie that launched the franchise.

Continuum does start a little slowly, and doesn’t feature nearly as much of the space opera offered by the last movie, Stargate: The Ark of Truth. Still, it’s fun. Ba’al, a mostly defeated Big Bad, has figured out how to use the wormhole network as a time machine, going into the past to do a Terminator on the time lines, ensuring his rise to galactic domination.

Our intrepid heros have to repair the temporal damage, but in the meantime a lot of familiar faces end up playing different versions of themselves, a nice twist that keeps things fresh. And if the Stargate producers have a secret weapon, it’s in their ability to leverage Stargate’s immense legacy (over a decade’s worth of characters, devices and locations) without being bogged down by it.

As for the time travel itself, within a certain (large) amount of dramatic license, it follows perfectly respectable scientific speculation concerning the use of wormholes, as discussed by Michio Kaku in DISCOVER last March. The main difference between the wormholes discussed by Kaku and the Stargate scenario is that physicists believe that if it was possible to use wormhole for time travel, it could not be used to travel back to a time before the wormhole itself was created, while in Continuum, appropriately created fresh wormholes can be used to travel to millions of years before they are made. But did I mention the dramatic license?


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