1. ToxicWaste
    Offline

    ToxicWaste Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chicago

    Plot Help with Time Travel

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ToxicWaste, Apr 2, 2010.

    I'm a newbie to the forum and thought I'd post a question. What are your thoughts on time travel? If you wrote a story on time travel which school of thought would you subscribe to: the time is fixed (12 monkeys), the time is changeable but the changes are easy to predict (Back to the Future), or the time is changeable and the changes are too complex to predict (Butterfly Effect)?

    Personally I was thinking of basing my story around a future where resources have become increasingly depleted and time travel to the past has become popular, just to escape the destitute present. Of course this time travel is only a vacation, but as with any vacation to a foreign land, the tourists end up screwing stuff up if only by leaving a huge amount of litter behind.

    Introduce our hero, the man who takes the job a time janitor because it pays more than working at Costco. However he finds himself increasingly wanting to just stay in the past forever, despite it being his job to stop people from doing just that. Despite being young (23) he is a misanthrope who seems to like neither those living in the past or the present.

    I'll be placing an emphasis on hard science and not wishy washy "magic" science.

    Any suggestions?


    That's where I am now.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Use whichever model works best with your story. If you pick up a copy of Thrice Upon a Time by James P. Hogan, you'll find some good discussion about the logical consequences of several models, along with the model the evidence in the story leads them to accept - a model I personally find to be beautifully elegant and plausible.

    But don't stop with that one book. Read as many time travel stories as you can get your hands on, and pay particular attention to how theyresolve te various time paradoxes. Are they logically consistent, or is there a lot of hand-waving to distract you from logical inconsistencies?

    Poul Anderson wrote an anthology, Time Patrol, about an organization tasked with enforcing time laws to prevent disruption of the timeline. I personally found the stories themselves fairly dull, but the premise of the stories is similar enough to your own that you may find some inspiration.
     
  3. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,861
    Likes Received:
    10,036
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Another good example is David Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself. In this rather short novel, Gerrold explores the concept of time travel from a more centralized viewpoint of the MC and the effect that his time travel has on his humanity.
     
  4. zaggers77
    Offline

    zaggers77 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2010
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    0
    Choose whichever you want. I think a bigger problem you might have is making the story believable
    How could a civilization advanced enough to send people back into the past be living in a destitute future. And if they have the ability to send people back in the past they should be able to come up with a way to create more resources.

    I think you should focus on fixing the holes in your story first.
     
  5. Riffle
    Offline

    Riffle New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    I think there two most important things here are:

    1. Will something complicated like the butterfly effect be too hard for you to write at times? Think ahead in the plot, and as to how drastically it might change it at times, and if you want to do that. Some people like involved plots, others like easy to understand plots.

    2. What will YOU enjoy writing most, or what is easier for you?


    In my personal opinion, if everything was to have a butterfly effect it would get too complicated too fast, and everyone would always be trying to understand the plot and not the inner-demons or problems for the main character. If you combine the two of more simple and more complex together, then it would make for a great read that can keep you involved, but not on too much of a level.



    Sorry if I threw a wall of text at you :D

    -Riffle
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The butterfly effect was postulated before chaos theory was developed. In chaos theory, some events are inherently stable, others inherently unstble. Small perturbations to an unstable event can lead to major changes in outcomes, but changes to stable events tend to make no significant difference to the outcome.

    Drop a marble on a beach ball, and it can roll off in any direction, so the results are very unpredictable. Drop the same marble in a basin, it will almost certainly end up near the center of the basin.

    In most cases, as you expand to a larger scale, the unstable regions become fewer. Chaos theory developed from the discovery that no matter how much data and computing power you use to predict weather, some weather patterns defy accurate prediction.

    Chaos theory doesn't refute the butterfly effect completely, but it does suggest that it would only apply at certain very unstable nodes of history.
     
  7. Riffle
    Offline

    Riffle New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    This along with my post of combining the two in a comfortable way for you seems like it might be a good idea, but do whatever works for you man. This sounds like it will be cool.
     
  8. ToxicWaste
    Offline

    ToxicWaste Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chicago
    Cogito, thank you very much. I had not thought of this fourth option of stable/unstable events.

    I'm not sure the ability of a civilization to "create" resources is possible. That would involve spending X amounts of resources to receive >X. Even solar panels or nuclear reactors require precious metals to be mined and alloyed, water for manufacturing, oil to power machines, and years of production to become active. This would require the world as a whole to suddenly start acting rationally towards a coming disaster, and I just don't really see that happening. We may act rationally during a disaster, but never before it.

    This society is one with quickly dwindling resources attempting to pretend the problem isn't real. I wish the reader to not say "wow these people are acting irrationally this writer sucks", but "wow these people are acting irrationally and don't even know it, they're foolish."
     
  9. Brian
    Offline

    Brian Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have written several short stories about time travel, as science fiction is one of my favorite genres to write. I prefer the complex and nearly impossible to predict style, but what I've noticed is that when I write this, it's harder for a reader to read, because they don't understand that a small change can have a large effect later on, like stepping on a butterfly (A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury).
     
  10. Aeschylus
    Offline

    Aeschylus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I can't help thinking that if people go back in time for fun, timeline alterations would have to be provably relatively stable and predictable; if not, the government(s) would not allow people to travel through time for fun, because of the incalculable risks. You could get around this by creating a paradox in which the time changes act in such a way that no one ever realizes that a change has been made--just a suggestion. Maybe even the time-traveler never realizes the alterations, and history is constantly changing.

    Of course, you can also just rely on the reader's suspension of disbelief: it's your world, and the reader won't question it too much while reading it as long as you establish the rules of time travel in your story and follow them without exception. If you establish that the timeline cannot be changed yet the protagonist alters time at the end, you'd better state a pretty damn good explanation or else the suspension of disbelief will be broken--you've just broken your own rules. That's the most important thing to remember: no matter what version of time travel you have in your story, you have to stick with it to the end.

    Another thing. You said in your post that the people in your story enjoy time travel because it enables them "to escape the destitute present." Wouldn't time travel cost a lot of money? Unless they've made it extremely cheap, a poverty-stricken world wouldn't have such an expensive endeavor as time travel be open to the public; only a few wealthy people, in addition to the government, would be able to use it. You need to explain this in one way or another, either by making time travel very cheap or by coming up with some brilliant excuse.
     
  11. Tokata
    Offline

    Tokata New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    To quote Chief O'Brien from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    'I hate temporal mechanics'.
    My favourite take on time travel, to avoid the paradox thing, is that if you go back in time and change things then this new time-line becomes an alternate or parallel universe or reality. The old one still exists (somewhere), but you can't go back to it. You are either stuck in the past or must go back to a different future.
    Second favourite: Travel back in time, but time is another dimension. You cannot interract with the past, but can observe and enjoy.

    food for thought, hopefully.

    re 'zaggers77' post: 'How could a civilization advanced enough to send people back into the past be living in a destitute future. And if they have the ability to send people back in the past they should be able to come up with a way to create more resources. '

    How about a future where politicians, governments and money men are more interested in science, space travel and profit than other planetary problems such as poverty.
    Ring any bells?
     
  12. Aeschylus
    Offline

    Aeschylus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Messages:
    240
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    There are three dimensions of space that we can see and comprehend; we can consciously interact with all three of these. Why should it be any different than time? We cannot change space itself, but we can affect what happens in space. Space and time are interrelated; in some form, you can control one by means of the other.

    Now, modern science supports the existence of a minimum of six dimensions of space that we cannot knowingly interact with because they are only made detectable on a very different scale. You could mess with the idea of time dimensions beyond the one we know. If you had a series of time dimensions that we could interact with at once, it would be like space, and we could move through time in many directions. All sorts of other possibilities spring up consequently.
     
  13. Tokata
    Offline

    Tokata New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    I totally agree. The possibilities of dimensions, time being one of them, are probably immense. However, personally I hate books or films that get too technical. I was just offering ideas on a couple of what I consider to be the most probable scenarios as the average person or reader might understand or appreciate them.
     
  14. Azihayya
    Offline

    Azihayya Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    The entire essence of Time Travel exists in the fact that it is not real and is only a metaphor for what can be real.

    For example, if you see a cartoon on screen there was never anything but a projected image.

    Now for the real science behind Time Travel.

    Because the world of metagogues only exist in a program, that is a closed system generating a virtual world, you are able to understand as an observer an impossible event which can never occur.

    So your method of time travelling has everything to do with how you tell about time travel.

    If there is a machine which travels through time, then you MUST admit that it is entirely in a fictional world, where all points of space and time are precalculated.

    Shoot, you got me thinking too much about this now. I can't go on.

    Okay. I got the next part.

    In all of time travel, you can only travel between moments that have already been recorded. You can never go somewhere that has not been.

    Thats for another story I guess.
     
  15. LordKyleOfEarth
    Offline

    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX. USA
    If you want to see a bizarre version of time travel Check out Robert A. Heinlein's All You Zombies. It is a story about a person who's job is to create paradoxes. Good read, it was rejected by playboy back in the day, but went on to win many awards.
     

Share This Page