Ooooh, I loves me a good time travel story, so I’m looking forward to the upcoming anthology The Time Traveler’s Almanac edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer. Now I just wish I could travel to March 2014 to get it now. (See what I did there?)
Graham Storrs lives in rural Australia with his wife, Christine, and an Airedale terrier called Bertie. He has published three children’s science books and scores of articles and academic papers (in the fields of psychology, artificial intelligence, and human-computer interaction). He recently turned his attention to science fiction and has since published over 20 short stories in magazines and anthologies. Timesplash, Graham’s debut novel, was published by Momentum in June 2013. Truth Path: Timesplash 2 releases this month.
Sci-Fi and the Physics of Time Travel
by Graham Storrs
Physicists don’t make it easy for sci-fi writers, not those who want to write about time travel, that is. Yes, they allow us a few, measly possibilities – you could drag one end of a wormhole off on a near-lightspeed round trip (if you could build a wormhole and if you could find a way to drag one end of it), you could build a contraption that exploits frame dragging by rotating laser cylinders (if you had near-infinite amounts of energy at your disposal), or you could try transferring information through time with tachyons (if such particles even exist), but that’s about all the options you get.
Yes, you can wave your arms and talk quickly about the missing singularity in loop quantum gravity, hop into a black hole and Bob’s your uncle, but, if you want to stick with real physics, even the wildly speculative stuff, time, my friend, is a bitch. Read the rest of this entry
Are the past and future immutable or can we escape the inevitable? This thought-provoking collection of time travel stories not only takes us into the past and future, but also explores what might happen if we attempt to manipulate time to our own advantage. Read 25 mindbending stories from Kage Baker, Michael Swanwick, Christopher Priest, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Robert Silverberg, Paul Levinson and many more!
One of my favorite themes in science fiction is time travel. This is a trope that is often used and abused in television and film, and even sometimes in books, though books tend to explore the consequences of time travel to greater depths. It seems like there are two kinds of time travel stories: those that use it as an incidental convenience to put two anachronistic elements together (like putting a modern-day person in medieval times), and those stories that make time travel integral to the plot and deal with the idea and effects of time travel head-on. It’s these latter stories that are usually more satisfying…
Unburning Alexandria is the sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul Levinson, now available from JoSara MeDia, first in eBook then in print.
Here is what the book is about:
Mid-twenty-first century time traveler Sierra Waters, fresh from her mission to save Socrates from the hemlock, is determined to alter history yet again, by saving the ancient Library of Alexandria – where 750,000 one-of-a-kind texts were lost, an event described by many as “one of the greatest intellectual catastrophes in history.”
Along the way she will encounter old friends such as William Henry Appleton, the great 19th-century American publisher, and enemies like the enigmatic time-traveling inventor Heron of Alexandria. Her quest will involve such other real historic personages as Hypatia, Cleopatra’s sister Arsinoe, Ptolemy the astronomer, and St. Augustine – again placing her friends, her loved ones, and herself in deadly jeopardy.
In this sequel to the THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES, award-winning author Paul Levinson offers another time-traveling adventure spanning millennia, full of surprising twists and turns, all the while attempting the seemingly impossible: UNBURNING ALEXANDRIA.
Read on to read an excerpt from Unburning Alexandria.
Paul Levinson, PhD, is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in NYC. His nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), Cellphone (2004), and New New Media (2009; 2nd edition, 2012), have been translated into ten languages. His science fiction novels include The Silk Code (winner of Locus Award for Best First Science Fiction Novel of 1999, author’s cut ebook 2012), Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002), The Pixel Eye (2003), The Plot To Save Socrates (2006, 2012), and Unburning Alexandria (2013). He appears on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and numerous TV and radio programs. His 1972 LP, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was re-issued in 2010. He reviews television in his InfiniteRegress.tv blog, and was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Top 10 Academic Twitterers” in 2009.
The Tricky Time Travel Business
by Paul Levinson
Time travel is a tricky business. I don’t mean actual time travel, which is worse than tricky, and is probably impossible, since the only way grandparent paradoxes can be surmounted is by invoking a Multiple Worlds Interpretation, in which a new universe is created every nanosecond anyone travels to the past. For example, if in my journey to the past I prevent my grandparents from meeting, how did I come to exist and travel to the past in the first place? The MWI would allow it: in World 1, I travel to the past and prevent my grandparents from meeting, which triggers World 2, in which I was never born. This doesn’t solve every problem – what would happen to me, would I just snap out of existence, or continue as some kind of special being (PL #1) who would continue living in World 2, even though you and everyone else in that world would be #2?
Questions like that are what make me think that time travel is likely impossible. And they also make writing about time travel a tricky business – but lots of fun, if you enjoy giving your synapses a wrapped-into-pretzels workout. The key is taking the paradoxes that lurk around every time traveling corner seriously. Even if we don’t adhere to the MWI, in which a new universe comes into being with every drop of the time traveler’s hat, we need to trace the consequences of every act of the time traveler in the past – and the future, too, in which time travel runs smack dab into free will. If you travel to the future and see me wearing a light blue shirt tomorrow, does that mean I have no choice but to put on that blue shirt tomorrow morning? Read the rest of this entry
Meridian is a 3-part mystery/adventure involving a disaffected tech support employee (played by Orlando Jones) who finds a pendant that allows him to see into the past of objects that he touches. Meridian was written & directed by Joe Penna.
Part 1 is below. Part 2 can be seen at Rides.tv, an interactive platform that, if you provide your phone number, calls you with messages that provide more clues to the mystery and make it more interactive. Part 3 is coming soon!
Deadlinereports that Starz will be producing a television series based on Diana Gabaldon’s time-travel novel Outlander. Battlestar Galactica vet Ron Moore will be writing the series. Sony Pictures TV, who purchased the adaptation rights to the series, is backing the project.
Outlander mashes together time travel, historical fiction, adventure and romance. It’s about a married woman named Claire, a British Army nurse in World War II, who accidentally travels through time back to 18th century Scotland, where she finds love and romance. Read the rest of this entry
By Derek | Friday, September 28th, 2012 at 10:00 am
REVIEW SUMMARY: Ambitious and often clever, Rian Johnson’s first foray into science fiction never quite pieces its philosophical content together with its thriller elements.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Time travel hitman Joe begins to have doubts about his chosen vocation when his next target is…himself.
PROS: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, as Joe and his older counterpoint, respectively; notable supporting cast, especially Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano; good blend of science fiction and noir in a well-rendered future; effective set pieces and intriguing use of time travel tropes.
CONS: Second act slows to a crawl to introduce philosophical elements that do not mesh well with its suspense narrative; important story details revealed late, giving the story uneven structure; unconvincing makeup to make Gordon-Levitt look like Willis; Emily Blunt’s bland Sara.
In the future, time travel exists but has been outlawed, so of course only outlaws have time travel. The Rainmaker, a mob boss headquartered in Shanghai who, based what audiences see of the year 2072, studied the methods of Pol Pot as well as Al Capone, sends those he wants taken care of thirty years into the past—the past being 2044—and into the sights of the loopers, hit men contracted specifically to eliminate said undesirables. (Though one wonders why the Rainmaker, who appears to wield enormous influence in this future overrun by gangs, would go to the trouble of using time travel to rid the world of his enemies, rather than simply eighty-sixing them in his own time period without consequence. Perhaps with absolute power comes absolute deniability.) The loopers obey only a few rules: when you’ve killed your mark and discover bars of gold on his body (based on the loopers’ Kansas City headquarters in 2044, women need not apply), it means your loop has been closed—you are, in essence, responsible for your own execution—and your contract is terminated. (Loopers never see the faces of those they kill because their targets wear hoods.) Another, and perhaps even more important condition, is that the looper must not let the target escape.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A touching romantic comedy supported by a great cast, Derek Connolly’s smart script, and Colin Trevorrow’s understated direction.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Three Seattle magazine reporters cover a story on the man who placed a classified ad calling for time travelers.
MY REVIEW: PROS: Winning performances by all involved, but especially Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass; intelligent, taut, and unpredictable script. CONS: Directorial missteps at the movie’s opening; liminal treatment of genre content might turn off some viewers.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Two specialists travel back in time to stop the murder of one of them, after their alien lover is killed for being a traitor.
MY REVIEW: PROS: Crisp writing, interesting alien culture, clever time travel plot. CONS: Lots of time spent exploring sex (how humans and aliens differ), don’t learn that much about the alien culture or technology. BOTTOM LINE: If you like a lot of human interest in your time travel and alien contact stories, give this a try.
Variety is reporting that a film adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “All You Zombies” will begin production early next year. Predestination stars Ethan Hawke and is being written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig (Daybreakers).
Variety describes it thusly:
[The] story centers on a secret government time traveling agency designed to prevent future killers and terrorists from committing their crimes. Pic chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to ensure the continuation of his law enforcement career for all eternity.
In episode 122 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester sits down to chat with Nick Hurwitch and Phil Hornshaw, co-authors of the new book, So You Created A Wormhole (Berkley Trade; April 3, 2012; ISBN: 9780425245583; $15.00). Read the rest of this entry
That’s the tagline for a new, independent film called Dimensions, a 1920s/30s SciFi drama that revolves around a scientist’s obsession with going back in time to revisit a moment from his childhood. It stars Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Camilla Rutherford, Olivia Llewellyn, Sean Hart, and Patrick Godfrey.
Stephen is a brilliant young boy who lives in England, in what appears to be the 1920s – but nothing in Stephen’s life is quite as it seems. His world is turned upside down upon meeting a charismatic and inspirational professor at a garden party, who demonstrates to Stephen and his friends what life would be like if they themselves were merely one, or two, dimensional beings. He then proceeds to explain that by manipulating other dimensions, time travel may actually be possible.
As Stephen’s life unfolds, events lead him to dedicate himself to turning the Professor’s theories of time travel into reality. Jealousy, love, obsession, temptation and greed surround him, influencing his fragile mind and the direction of his work.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Down-and-out MIT lab assistant Matt Fuller discovers a device that travels forward in time.
PROS: A promising premise of the “time travel observer” variety.
CONS: So much wasted potential; lackluster characters.
BOTTOM LINE: Ultimately un-engaging.
Time Travel is one of my favorite science fiction subgenres and has perhaps given me some of the greatest thrills, partly because there are so many approaches authors take to engage the reader. There are “observer” stories like H.G. Well’s classic The Time Machine. There are stories that wrap your mind in a time loop like Robert A. Heinlein “All You Zombies“. There are those that confront the paradox like Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity. There are the thrill rides of John Varley’s book Millennium and the mind-bending plots of the film Timecrimes. More recently, Jack McDevitt’s Time Travelers Never Die was an enjoyable piece of fiction that nicely utilized the time travel trope.
The less enjoyable stories (in any genre) are the ones that don’t engage the reader at all. And that was my experience with Joe Haldeman’s time travel novel The Accidental Time Machine.