How about time travel?
June 19 was not turning out to be a good day for Hank Morgan. He was an intelligent, successful engineer with thousands of people working for him, but, it turns out, not all of them were happy with him. In fact, one went so far as to bash him in the head with a crowbar, and, as if that weren’t enough, Hank woke up in middle-ages England of all places. This was beyond a little perplexing since Hank had been in 19th century Connecticut when he was last conscious.
Hank, who would soon become known as “The Boss,” didn’t have much time to consider this odd change in scenery though, as he was accosted by a lance-wielding knight on horseback soon after his arrival. Things only got more complicated from there.
Without giving too much away; Hank, using his knowledge of engineering and science, quickly rose to a position of power posing as a great magician and spent the next three or four years trying to turn medieval England into an industrialized (and Americanized) utopia. Also, King Arthur and Merlin were involved. All did not go well.
Still, A for effort, Hank.
Want to learn more? Check out A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain.
Want your shot at building your own utopia? That’s a bit more difficult (we would like to take this opportunity to advise against the “angry employee with crowbar” path to changing history) but it is possible and there is no time like the present. It’s summer, the sun is shining, people are out and about and there are things to do everywhere, so let’s get to it. First things first, find a problem, any problem – small, big, medium-sized, whatever – and fix it, or at least make it better. Then repeat. It’s going to take a while, but then Rome (or an industrialized Camelot with a modern standard of living) wasn’t built in a day.
… Baby in a small, unmanned spacecraft hurtling towards Kansas.
Gulliver traveled by sea to (accidentally) reach his fantastic destinations – this traveler’s journey was a touch more… celestial.
Once upon a time Lara and Jor-El had a baby. He was everything they could ask for in a bouncing, baby boy and they named him Kal-El and loved him very much. If their planet wasn’t about to violently explode they would have been very happy. But it was about to explode and it was too late to do much other than boil an egg… and maybe save their infant son from sharing their fate. You see, Jor-El and Lara were scientists, and not just any scientists; they were, like, the scientists. While, on the one hand, this made them distressingly aware of their planet’s ultimate demise long before anyone else, it also afforded them certain opportunities; specifically access to the materials and technology necessary to quickly and quietly construct a spacecraft built for a single, very small, astronaut.
And so, moments before their entire civilization was turned into flaming space debris, they swaddled their precious baby in his favorite blanket, which had the added benefit of being nigh indestructible, placed him carefully in the craft and set him on a course that would take him across the galaxy where, if all went well, he would land on a planet that they had determined would be hospitable to their child.
It is hard to say what wonders baby Kal-El saw on his trip and what he thought of it – he was just a baby after all. What we do know is that he made it to his destination, where he landed safely, if not smoothly, on June 18 by the local calendar. He was found and taken in by a young couple that lived nearby where he landed. They were kind, honest people that raised the boy as their own. Not knowing of his origins, or even his true name, they named him Clark. He’d eventually be known by a different name.
I know he’s Superman (I hope that you’d figured that out already and I didn’t just ruin the surprise), but still, across space. As a baby. Makes trying something new this summer seem a lot more reasonable, doesn’t it?
Summer is a time of wonder, of adventure, of going to see what there is to see. So what are we all sitting around for? Here are some literary examples of fantastic summer travels to help inspire you to get out there and experience June.
Note: Pay no attention to the fact that all of the examples are of adventures that were unintended/completely involuntary. You should still go outside. Just, maybe start small…
I know! You could go to the library! Safe, close by and air-conditioned but still full of things to see and to learn. It’s perfect!
In the meantime, here is your first fantastic voyage.
By the summer of 1703, Lemuel Gulliver already knew that the world was a much larger (or smaller, as the case may be) and stranger place than most people ever imagined. It had been about a year since he had finally returned home after his first lengthy sea journey; a journey that had resulted in him being shipwrecked and stranded in the nation of Lilliput, being a nation populated entirely by people who were less than 6 inches tall. His experiences there (including his eventual fall from imperial favor and subsequent arrest and escape) are probably the best known and most retold of his adventures but they were far from his only. In fact, another one was to begin soon for, having been at home for 12 whole months, he was starting to get antsy.
On June 17, 1703, Mr. Gulliver and his most recent crewmates put ashore on an uncharted coastline to explore and forage. This ended pretty abruptly when 70 foot tall giants chased the entire shore party back to their row boats, all of them except Gulliver that is. After spending time as a giant among the Lilliputians poor Gulliver now found the situation completely reversed. The intrepid ship’s surgeon remained stranded on the island of giants (he would find out soon enough that the place was called Brobdingnag) until he “escaped” when a giant eagle snatched him (and the room/cage he was in – he had become the human equivalent of a purse dog for the Brobdingnagian queen) and flew him out to sea.
He did not go straight home. There were many more highly improbable islands and people to meet. He, in fact, did not make it home once and for all for another 12 years. Take that Odysseus.
Intrigued? You can check out the rest of the story, and the bits I glossed over, in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. You know where you can pick it up.
So, even if it doesn’t exactly make you want to take up sailing anytime soon, I hope that Gulliver inspires you to at least make your way to the library. Maybe take the scenic route on the way here – you never know what you might find.