Paradoxes of Time Travel
The paradoxes caused by time-travel in the OUTLANDER books have always intrigued me. Take Jemmy's box, for example:
The note was brief, stating merely that the box had come from a defunct banking house in Edinburgh. Instructions had been stored with the box, stating that it was not to be opened, save by the person whose name was inscribed thereon. The original instructions had perished, but were passed on verbally by the person from whom he obtained the box. (From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, "Epilogue I: Lallybroch". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
All right. So the box has been carefully preserved for two hundred years. Did it already exist, in some twentieth-century bank vault, at the time Claire was born in 1918? If events happen only once (as the Gabaldon Theory of Time Travel would have us believe) then I suppose the answer is yes. And if the box already existed before Claire was born, does that mean she was somehow fated to go back in time?
And what about the other evidence of the time-travelers' presence in the past? The documented proof that they were in the 18th century exists, certainly, in our own time. The deed of sassine with Claire's signature on it (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER). The newspaper clipping (DRUMS OF AUTUMN). For all we know, the copy of the Lexington Alarm mentioned in ABOSAA -- written in Claire's handwriting with Jamie's signature at the bottom -- may have survived in some historian's files somewhere.
Frank certainly seems to have found some sort of evidence of Brianna's presence in the past, as Bree herself notes in FIERY CROSS:
"I wondered why a man who didn't ride or shoot should take such pains to see that his daughter could do both those things. I mean, it wasn't like it was common for girls to do that." She tried to laugh. "Not in Boston, anyway." (From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 20, "Shooting Lessons". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
What do you suppose Frank found? Bree's marriage certificate, perhaps? And if evidence of Brianna's presence in the past existed in the 20th century long before she even knew she was a time-traveler, does this mean that she was "meant" to travel back in time? Did she choose to do so of her own free will, or because history showed she was there?
The paradoxes of time-travel tend to give people headaches. Enough of my speculations for now. I'd like to hear what you think.