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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Time Travel Story Idea

   
Author Topic: Time Travel Story Idea
mythopoetic
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Ok, so I had this idea for a time travel story, but I'm not sure if it's enough to work off of. It focuses around two men and the principle that if you go back in time, you do not begin to age until you've reached the moment in time where you first went back in time. Thus, it would be possible for someone to live seemingly 'forever' because everyone else in the time stream would age normally. So, this man illegally goes back in time in order to reshape it in the form he wants, to create an empire focused on himself, the 'eternal' emperor. ....
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Christine
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I've got to ask...Why wouldn't someone age until they reach their own time?
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RavenStarr
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I could think of things that could answer that, but I'd rather draw out more by asking instead... by what explanation are you using to make time travel possible? I'm thinking almost along the lines of a "Quantum Leap" type thing to make it possible. Something that pulls your being out of sync with "normal time" until you "catch up"... so... how are you doing that?
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mythopoetic
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I'm not sure. I'm not sure how it would work or how I could describe it without resorting to a "This is some technology we haven't figured out yet so don't expect me to explain it" ploy. What I was thinking is that time in this story is linear, with set points on the line. Different events can take up residence at these different points on the time line, almost like different genes can be at different locations on the chromosome. The events can be switched in and out, but the location on the time line remains the same. Perhaps, if someone leaves the time line at a certain point, he or she remains connected to that location so that they remain ageless until they reach that point.
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Christine
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Hmmm....well, I'm not saying the idea couldn't work. RavenStarr reminded me of Quantum Leap, which is a reasonable example, but I always thought of that as more of a fantasy than a science fiction. In fact, unless you can come up with a doozy of a scientifically plausible explanation, I might suggest trying fantasy.

The closesst thing I can think of in science fiction is that time slow down as your approach the spped of light, so if you went for a joyride in space at very fast speeds you might come back and find your infant son the age of your father. To him, it would appear as if, as in your time travel story, you didn't age. But you did age precisely as fast as you should have...it's just that you coulda sworn that trip only took a couple of days.

I can't think of any reason, real or theoretical, that would explain a person not aging in a real, linear fashion if their body is in a different place or time.

Now, if they did not actually travel back in time in body but only in mind or spirit...I heard that dreams take a few seconds, though they sometimes seem to go on for hours. Our minds have the capacity to work many times faster than our bodies. If only a projection of a person went back (or forward) in time then they might age much more slowly, although the aging wouldn't stop entirely and it wouldn't have much to do with reaching his/her own time...

oh well, my mind was rambling. I'm going to go do something useful to my own novel now.


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wbriggs
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Larry Niven, "Death in a Cage," from the Svetz stories. Someone did time tampering that destroyed his past, and whenever he traveled back in time, he progressed forward till then, and time froze; when he traveled forward, he progressed backward to the same time. Physical mechanism? I don't think so. Niven was using the idea that time travel is essentially fantasy, so he didn't bother with a mechanism.

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franc li
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It seems like if you didn't age until you reached your moment of departure, you would also be cursed with youth. What would be funny is if you kept looping around because you forgot what you needed to know to prevent it each time. Whether one ever got out of this would be interesting, provided you didn't have Mr. Data as a sidekick in your story.
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Jeraliey
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I think it's a good idea, with the following reservation: as long as you're not actually trying to come up with an accurate explanation about why it happens, because I don't think it'll be easy to come up with something that doesn't make people shake their heads and roll their eyes. That said, the idea itself sounds interesting and fun, and I look forward to reading it!
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EricJamesStone
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Although it probably won't work as "hard SF," you're generally allowed one "that's just the way it works" idea in a story. Just make sure that you think through the implications and have your characters act properly in relation to the idea.
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Keeley
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I read this thread and thought of a story I saw on Space.com several days ago about wormholes:

Experts Say Wormholes, Time Machines Unreliable

The link they provide in the article to the actual argument is here:

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0504/0504003.pdf


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Spaceman
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You should read David Gerrold's "The Man Who Folded Himself." If you want to see what messing with the time line does, this is the story, and the ending of the story is absolutely perfect. But, he offers no explanation for the time belt.

Niven, by the way, is adament that time travel is impossible.

[This message has been edited by Spaceman (edited June 03, 2005).]


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jeduthun
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If you accept the idea that time travel is impossible, and then you write a time travel story anyway, I suppose that means you're writing fiction?

In other words, I think it's silly to argue about whether time travel is impossible or not. Come up with your own rules, be consistent about them, and write a terrific story on top of the cool ideas you have.

And to answer the original question, "is it enough to work off of?" I would say no. You've got a cool idea and one character, but no conflict. No antagonist, no suffering.

[This message has been edited by jeduthun (edited June 03, 2005).]


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Spaceman
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You'd have to ask Larry.
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EricJamesStone
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I doubt that Niven believes time travel is impossible. Time travel to the future is demonstrably possible. It's going the other direction that presents problems.
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franc li
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Why is time travel sci-fi but suddenly having a million dollars in your bank account is not? I guess because the later is somewhat more likely to happen, and it is generally going to be a headache to put right.

It would be funny if time travel just fell upon a hapless soul by means of a bureaucratic error. "Sorry, this was supposed to be the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce wormhole. They are not going to be happy that it went missing."

Why is time travel more sci fi than love potion? I guess that is just one of those things. Like little green men in Tyvek are aliens, but little green men in leather are elves.


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Survivor
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Time travel is demonstrably possible, including travel into the past (this can even be accomplished using existing human technology, depending on how you define "past").

The problem is figuring out anything useful to do with it, since most of the things that people tend to think of to do with it are things that we know are outside of the realm of possibility.

P.S. Little green men wearing leather are fairies and suchlike, not elves.


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Spaceman
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Obviously Niven knows that we all travel through time as a natural way of being. That we all understand it possible was implied. And he has written time travel stories anyway.
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mythopoetic
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Well,here was the rest of the idea I came up with. So this fellow goes back in time to create this world focused around him. Now, this activity is rather illegal, so the entire time he's attempting this, the government is investigating him. (i know this sounds like it has a bad connotation, but in this story, the government is the good guy.) So all of a sudden they realize they are running out of time. Their agent manages to find the time travel lab but doesn't manage to get there in time to stop the man from going back. So the agent decides to go back in time to stop this man. So it sort of sets up this epic conflict between two characters. That sort of thing.
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Spaceman
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This is totally irrelevant, but I think it's funny. I have a terrible time with some weird kind of tunnel-vision dyslexia. I always read your handle as Myopathetic. I don't mean any insult (except maybe against myself), but I always have to look at it twice to get Mythopoetic out of those letters.

The concept for the story is fine, but to me it's just an idea that is still undeveloped, not a story.


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franc li
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Whatever you say, Sprucemaw. Seriously, though, I see the myo part, but I thought that would be unique to me due to my connection to the massage business. My husband when to the Myotherapy college and his business name for the first 2 years was MyoTouch, and we are always getting flyers for myofacial release seminars in the mail.


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