Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's About Time

I've been promising this post for almost a month, but just haven't gotten around to finishing it. All my Facebook shares about procrastination may have had something to do with the delay. I don't know...

Anyways, I present to you some of my thoughts on time travel-

I love a good time travel story.

I mean, who doesn't?

It's no surprise to me that the most popular Star Trek movies and shows are the time travel stories. At our nature time is a reminder that we are finite beings. We know that at some point our time will run out, and that is the heart of most time travel stories; the desire to manipulate time to extend our own personal time in the universe or to manipulate time to our advantage.

I'd like to talk today about time and time travel as it pertains to narrative devices. First, I need to lay some groundwork. We'll talk about theories, paradoxes, practicality, and all that good stuff.

To begin, let's start with the differing views of spcaetime. To make it simple, there are essentially two views of time that branches out into the others, but lets start with the basics.

You can either view the timeline as a constant or as a variable. That is a simplistic view of the matter at hand, but it works. Either it can be changed or it can't. Everything stems from that.
Viewing time as a linear constant lends itself to different types of paradoxes, but let's begin with the basics. Those that accept the concept of linear singular time believe that the past, present, and future are constants. The past cannot be changed because, well simply stated, it is the past. Working within this theory, you find yourself coming upon the Bootstrap Paradox (coined by the great Robert Heinlein). The Bootstrap paradox is defined as a self sustaining timeline. Objects from the future become their own precedents in the past.
The Terminator is a great example of the Bootstrap Paradox. The elements and origin of Skynet were birthed from the Terminator sent back in time. Skynet essentially created itself. Another example from pop culture is the TV show Futurama. In a time travel episode, one of the characters, through a series a misadventures, becomes his own grandfather. 
In a singular time system, there is no question about if the chicken or the egg came first. 
A time traveler in a singular timeline could not alter the past or the future, only experience it.
On the other side of the temporal coin is the multiverse, or many worlds theory. This one has been utilized by the comics industry for decades. Marvel and DC go a little overboard with it sometimes. What with all the alternate versions of all their characters running around. It's enough to make your head spin sometimes. The basic gist of this outlook comes down to every choice you can ever make actually happens, but because our finite minds we can only see one reality.
If you've ever seen the show Sliders, you have a pretty good understanding of the multiverse.
Imagine every choice that could ever happen creates a branch in the timeline. Going to the past or to the future can change the branch that you observe.
Back to the Future is another good example of divergent timelines. Marty and Doc are able to alter their branch of time based on their actions the past. 
I know a lot of what I've said in this post is simplified, but I wanted to keep it very basic. I wanted to share this as a tool for readers and writers.
Ideas and theories to keep in mind the next time you pick up a story involving time travel.
If you want to understand more I encourage you to read any of Brian Greene's books on temporal theories.
If I've made a mistake, please correct me in the comments or send me a note on the contact page.
Thanks for reading. Please share, like, +1, etc...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Excerpt- 9.15.2014

It's an excerpt week. Today I'm going to be sharing something from a short story collection that I am putting together. The following is the first half of a short story that will be the first in the collection. I wrote the first draft of this recently in a writing sprint with some fellow writers. It is based partly upon my years spent riding public transit in Atlanta to classes downtown.

The collection is untitled, but the short story is titled Albatross.

I hope you enjoy, and please comment below or contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Excerpt from Albatross-

I dozed as my head lay back on the seat, swaying in time with the rhythmic thumps of the train car. My evening commute from classes in downtown Atlanta each evening. Our mass transit system, may not be the cleanest, or the most efficient, but it gets me where I need to go. My route, the East line out of town to the Kensington station, usually went without incident. Only once have I overslept and woken up at the end of the Blue Line. That will never happen again.

I actually enjoy the downtime after classes on my way back to the suburbs. I get to reset and be thoughtless while a panorama of skyscrapers, tunnels, and graffiti speed past. I usually manage to get the same seat, in the same car without any other passengers to bother me. Unlike the morning commute into the city when I am bustled up against all of the worker bees pushing and fighting their way into the city. Only at night, when I'm alone am I free of that mold.

Tonight started no differently than any other. My laptop bag in my lap, the strap wound around my arm three times, because, I am alone, and this is still Atlanta after all. I woke slightly and peeked around as the train decelerated. I could tell by the buildings outside that this was only the second stop. I sat up and stretched upwards hearing a crack coming from my neck. As I leaned my head against the window, I took notice of a man dressed in a ratty faded trench coat enter the car.

Drugs or bootleg movies, I wondered. Occasionally, I would have to fend off offers of narcotics and pirated DVD's. I bought one once and quickly realized why it only cost me five dollars. I quickly assumed my "not interested" pose of looking off into the distance and refusing to make eye contact.

I swore under my breath as the man approached. He paused as the train lurched forward and started moving again. Making its way to the next station. He continued to shamble forward, gripping the handle on the seat backs, one after another, almost like he was trying to climb a ladder.

I again averted my eyes and fidgeted as I forced myself to keep from looking at the stranger. I watched his reflection in the window pane and could now see his face clearly. Wrinkles that long sense have become canyons wound across his face and around his deep set eyes. He paused at my seat and I steeled myself to refuse any offer he might come up with. As I twisted in my seat to face him, he sat down and procured a beaten and worn leather bound book from somewhere within his coat.

He knows I'm a student and wants to sell me a book in hopes that it's worth something, I thought.

"Sorry," I put my hands out and gently pushed at the book. "I'm not interested." He cackled and smiled showing at least three teeth missing.

"Sorry!?" He squinted at me with his left eye closed. "Sorry," he said again quieter, "my boy. I am in need of your help. My time grows near and I must be going soon. I have been following you for quite some time and think you are ready."

"Ready for what?" I wished I sat closer to the emergency call button, and contemplated leaping over the seat and making a run for the end of the car.

"For the book, of course." He handed me the book and I could not make out the faded inscription on the cover or spine. He grasped my hands and held them onto the book, a bit more forcefully than I expected from him. The callouses on his hands grated on my skin. "I have recorded from the tome for quite some time, but I am getting too frail to keep it at bay. You, dear boy, are capable of becoming a Cranic."

"A what?" I laughed a little, yanked my hands away, and pushed further away.

"A Cranic. It means recorder, but there is little time and we must begin soon." He pushed the book into my lap. I laughed again, feeling a dryness take hold in my throat. He seemed different than the usual crazies on the train, and he also seemed more determined.

"Okay, what do you need me to do?" I hoped I could placate him.

"Don't patronize me," he shouted as his right hand struck my face. I could taste copper in my mouth and wondered if I was bleeding. I started to stand up and put my hands on his shoulders to push past him, but before I could do so he placed a hand on the center of my chest and I felt paralyzed. Unable to stand or look away I started to feel sweat bead up on my back and the hairs stand on the back of my neck. He looked at me again with his one eyed squint and said, "Sorry, you know, for the inconvenience, but you are being might y stubborn, you know. Not that I blame you entirely. I understand that I appear a might on the loopy side of things, but I have need of you and the fate of the world depends on it."

He removed his hand from my chest, but I still could not move. He began to mumble as he caressed the cover of the book, but I could not understand any of his words. Finally, he began to speak louder, but it seemed to be to no one in particular.

"Yes. He's the one. He will do fine." His eyes darted back and forth as if there was another in the train car with us. "He just needs to be shown." His conversation apparently over with the unseen listener, he focused his attention once again on me. "Listen, my boy, there is a great and terrible world beyond our own. A world of dreams and nightmares come to life. A long time ago, this realm was corrupted by a darkness. None know the truth behind it, but this darkness poisoned a realm of dreams and awakened a deep hunger that desires to devour our world. It threatens to break through, but there are those chosen to battle it. Chosen to hold it back and keep this world in the light." He paused to take a breath and coughed. I saw specks of blood on his hand that he quickly wiped onto his coat.

"I am one of those chosen to protect the world of the waking, and I am at the end of my path. I must choose another to carry this burden for me and I believe it to be you." He tapped me again on the chest and I felt my body unhinge and coil, prepared to run. He held his hands up and leaned away from me and said, "You may refuse. I am willing to take that chance, but time is short and I will only ask two things of you. Two things only." He tapped the book with a long bony finger and continued in a whisper, "Hear my story, and open the book. Once that is done, all will be explained. Can you do that for me?"

"Sure. Just a story and a book, right?" I pressed myself back against the window, wondering if I could sneak my hand inside my bag and rummage for my cell.

"Wonderful," he smiled, "Let's begin." He placed his hand on the cover of the book and began pry it open. He grunted and strained as if pulling a massive weight until finally the book lay open before us.

"Umm, there's nothing on the page, I said. I laughed and swallowed hard to push down the lump rising in my throat.

"Not yet, my boy. Not yet. First, I've got to tell you a story." His eyes, only now did I notice the lack of color, never left mine and I found myself locked into his gaze, unable to look away. "My name," he continued, "My name is unimportant, but what is important is my story." My eyes shifted down and watched his lips move. I began to anticipate the words before he spoke and found myself rocking in rhythm with the cadence of his voice.

"I've been a recorder for many-a-year. I can't remember how long now, which was the first sign that I needed to find you. Keeping so many stories in your head will do that to you. Too many strands too keep track of. Our minds are not limitless, you know." He reached up a hand and absently wiped flecks of spittle and blood from the corner of his mouth.

"I was a young man, just like you, when I started. A man, just as I appear now, approached me and scared me to death. Jumped out of an alleyway, he did." He raised his arms and shook his hands in front of my face, before clasping them once again over the open book. "Our run in, all those years ago was not very dissimilar to this encounter, but it was necessary. Life hangs in the balance. The universe hangs in the balance. We are at a tipping point, my boy, and you are part of the machine that will keep our world in the light for a little longer."


Hope you liked. I'm pulling this and other stories together and hope to have the collection out next year.

Thanks for reading. If you've enjoyed, please like, share, +1, etc...


If you have any questions about copyright information or reproduction of this excerpt please check out the  copyright page.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Update- 9.1.2014

Welcome back. This is my update post to kick off the month. Not too much to share, but there is some progress on my WIPs.

For the details of all of my current projects, you can click here to read my initial month one update. That should give you all the info you need to be up to date on my stuff.

To Tread the Narrow Path:
For details on this WIP, you can refer to my Published Works page. I took a little break in between the first half and the second. I treated it like short break for the summer and I am considering it analogous to the return of the Fall TV season. The first installment of Book III just went live last week. Currently the novella is available on Amazon with all of the installments up to date for only $0.99. If it sounds like something you'd be interested in, check it out.

Lighthouse at the Edge of Forever:
I've outlined Lighthouse out to book three. Getting ready to kick into a more concentrated writing mode on this one as Narrow Path approaches the end.

In other news, I was interviewed last week by the extremely talented Eric E. McClure on his Facebook page (check it out to find the interview). Fun was had by all (at least I hope).

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or thoughts about anything I'm working on feel free to drop me a comment here or on the fan page, or you can always message me on another means of contact.

Thanks for reading, please join me next week wherein I'm going to be talking about time and temporal theories and how they affect fiction.

If you've enjoyed this please like, share, +1, follow, etc…