Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Traveling Through Time

A couple of nights ago, a story idea sneaked into my brain, and I lost a fair amount of sleep working on it. Thanks to Scooter's morning effusiveness, sleeping in has become a lost art, but since I refuse to get out of bed before 7 AM, and since after his ten minutes of ecstasy, Scooter falls back asleep and I can't, I played with the idea some more.

Playing with an idea is completely different from writing a book. I've been playing with an idea for a book that wouldn't even be all that hard to write for months now, and I haven't noticed myself scurrying to the computer and setting up a brand new doc.

But I do love playing with ideas, so I've been letting myself enjoy this one. I'll tell you this much about it- it's a time travel story.

I love the idea of time travel stories. I can't say I've read many of them. Actually I'm hard pressed to remember any I've read. Now that I think about it, I haven't even seen that many time travel movies, Back To The Future and Time After Time and I think I saw the Bing Crosby Connecticut Yankee a long long time ago. Of course there was the Star Trek episode where they go back to the 1930s, and I've probably seen some others I can't remember anymore.

Here are all possible time travel variants with the main character doing the traveling:

The main character travels through time from the present to the future.

The main character travels through time from the present to the past.

The main character travels through time from the future to the present.

The main character travels through time from the future to the past.

The main character travels through time from the past to the future which could be some other time in the past but not the past for the main character to whom what we think of as the past is the future to that character if you know what I mean. And I suppose a different main character could travel from the future to the past which could be our future but would be the past to the main character if the main character lives far enough in the future that the past for the main character is still our future.

And yes, you will be tested on that.

My idea involved the main character traveling from the future to our present, or maybe a year or two after our present, but basically our present, which would be the main character's past.

One of the tricky things about plotting a story where the main character (hereafter to be known as MC) travels from the future to our present is that anything MC does could change everything that happens in the world afterwards, which is fine for you and me, since we're here already, but could really mess up MC's genetic code, ultimately rendering MC not MC. This is a variant of traveling through time to keep Abraham Lincoln from getting assassinated, which sounds like a good idea on paper, but who knows what happens to the good old US of A without the fabulous presidency of Andrew Johnson.

So if MC travels from future to present and swats the wrong mosquito, then MC would cease to exist, at least in the world MC originally came from. In which case, if MC has gone back in time for a specific purpose, MC can never return to MC's present (our future) to find out if the mission was successful. Which is a darn shame.

Now I'm not opposed to writing darn shame endings, but even I can see how frustrating that would be for readers, especially since MC could succeed in the mission and things could become much worse as a result, but we'll never know.

The story I've been playing with MC is definitely sent on a mission intended to change the course of history, so swatting the right mosquito is an absolute requirement. But swatting that mosquito would guarantee changing MC's genetic code, so there's no MC unless MC stays in the traveled to time. I suppose there's a way of transforming that into a happy ending, but to me it would feel like being marooned, since I really like being home where I know things are and can master new skills like cheating at FreeCell. Then again, my home is much nicer than MC's, so maybe readers would be happy for MC after all.

I sincerely hope you've followed all this, because it's getting very close to my bedtime and I'm not going to reread this entry. The odds on my writing the Saga Of MC are about 1 in a 100, but if I do, I'll let you know. In the meantime, it's fun to think about while Scooter is sleeping, which is what I intend on doing any minute now myself.

Good night, past, present and future!


Anonymous said...

Would this person's mission be to prevent the meteor from knocking the moon out of orbit? Just wondering -- can't blame me for trying.

The Please Prove You're Not A Robot word for today is "satureso". Sounds like a good name for the character if you don't already have one picked out.

Anonymous Santa Fe

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Good morning Anonymous Santa Fe-

Nope, the time travel would have nothing to do with the moon. Completely separate idea.

Satureso is a great name for a villainous love interest. How thoughtful of BlogSpot to provide it!

Anonymous said...

Character gets to live h/his life over again. If I knew then what I know now. Does it make a difference.

I'd opt for putting Scooter in a time machine. The cat who went back - or at least a parallel universe. W. S.

Captacha word - also intriguing -
ionsugsn i on sugsn ions ugsn
ion sugsn blech

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hallo W. S.-

There's a time travel book, turned into a movie (never read the book or saw the movie) called Repeat Performance about someone who has committed a murder and has a chance to live the past year over again.

I've always wanted to read that book and/or see the movie. It's such a great premise.

I don't think the time machine could survive Scooter. I know it's a challenge for me!

Barker and Jones Staff said...

Why can't MC go back to the future? It's not his future, but he went successfully to the past, where he presumably didn't exist either until he got there.

Um. ::rereads sentence::

Let me try that again.

Unless I've misread, which is very possible in a post about time travel, MC comes to the past to change something which means he wasn't born. You're saying he can't return to the future because he doesn't exist there anymore. Why? He didn't exist in the past either. Unless time itself is self correcting and would vanish him or something...

Yeah, I'm kind of a nerd. I love this kind of discussion. :D

My CAPTCHA is onyaled, which is kind of a nice girl's name, isn't it?

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Barker And Jones Staff-

My theory goes that if you travel back in time and change a certain number of things, your parents will never meet and thus you'll never be born.

I am very practical when it comes to time travel.

And yes, Onyaled has some possibilities as a name. I'm not sure I like the "led" part at that end though. Maybe Onyaleda. Or Onyalea. Yeah, I like Onyalea the best.

Now let's see if Onyalea's parents can actually meet!

Barker and Jones Staff said...

Yeah, I get why he doesn't exist, but just because he doesn't exist, why does that mean he can't go back to the future? He didn't exist in the past until he traveled there.

Sorry. Nerdy nerd nerd, seriously.

::checks sign in:: Ah. You'll also know me by my other email, Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller...

Captcha: ipaona. That's not a bad girl's name either...

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello and I surrender to Barker and Jones Staff aka Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller.

I'll stay in this time dimension. I have enough trouble moving from Eastern Standard to Daylight Savings!

Barker and Jones Staff said...

Sorry. I'm not trying to start a fight, I swear! I just love this kind of conversation so I always just jump right in...

Barker and Jones Staff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello Barker and Jones Staff (better known as Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller)-

Pfeffers love a good fight. Well, not with fists and possible blood loss. But we're always ready to argue.

But in this case, I concede defeat!