‘They’ve Forked Baby Hitler’

(Kjordand via Wikimedia Commons)


“When you say to people in the street ‘time travel,’ what do they say? They say ‘kill Baby Hitler.’” In a short story for Big Echo, Jo Lindsay Walton explores the classic time travel trope.

It’s something people are already comfortable with. That is so important, because with time travel, the negative narratives are out there already. To the nope nope nope nope community, KBH is a teachable moment. What could be more memorable than —

Yeah, okay. With you. Not memorable. Super the opposite of memorable. Even had it worked like it was supposed to. Because if it had worked —

— which it didn’t —

then everybody would have been like:

‘You killed who?’

‘And this person was a, a baby?’

‘That doesn’t sound very ethical.’

‘Oh, so the baby started it?’

‘You should go to jail.’

‘We hate this press conference.’

Still. Umeko said it best. ‘Going back in time and killing Baby Hitler. It just has to be done. You can’t not.’

Walton’s story has a high-tech twist: If someone’s going back in time to kill Baby Hitler, there’s probably also someone else going back to save Baby Hitler. Now it’s a tech startup competition.

The child we murdered,’ you say. ‘Our competitors whisk him away the moment before Umeko’s first sword-stroke. Then they put him back, nanoseconds later, and that version does die. But meanwhile they’ve forked Baby Hitler. They go to some quiet, out-of-the-way nook of time. They let him crawl around for a minute, then zip him back in time one minute, so now there are two Baby Hitlers. They take the spare one and –’

‘We get it,’ says Umeko.

Read the story