Thursday, July 29, 2010


What is it about time that so fascinates us?

I was thinking about the idea of time yesterday and realizing how many of my story ideas include plots or sub-plots having to do with the manipulation of time. Some involve time travel, others involve places that exist outside of our time, and one was about infinite worlds moving in different directions, each on its own time line, and intersecting at key points to allow for jumping between worlds. (This last also had vampires, which is probably why I haven't seriously planned to write it—there's a bit of over-saturation in the market already.)

Then I realized that so many of the stories I love play with time. I grew up watching Back to the Future. I always wanted to go to Narnia, and while time isn't a huge factor in the majority of the Narnian plots, it is a big deal when traveling between that world and ours. And then, one of my favorite Harry Potter books is The Prisoner of Azkaban, which uses time travel very effectively.

Turns out the book I'm reading right now (Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones) has a great deal to do with time as well.

So I'm not alone in my interest for the subject. I think perhaps I feel drawn to write about time manipulation precisely because it is (at least as far as I am aware—I'm no physicist) totally impossible. The business of the writer is “what if.” With time, there are so many “what ifs.”

I remember back in middle school lying awake at night trying to understand higher dimensions. Because we can't easily visualize a fourth dimension, we often speak of time as a line. I imagined the three dimensions we know best shrinking to a dot on that line. The fifth dimension spread out in front of me in my mind's eye: the plane in which our time line lived—a whole collection of alternate realities.

That's a lot of “what if” to play with.

Perhaps one day I will get tired of thinking of time as a changeable aspect of a story, but until then I plan to enjoy manipulating time. Is there anything you want to see an author do with regards to time?

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, time. I'm not as fascinated by the manipulation of time as I am in Quantum Theory - infinite parallel universes and all that. Have you ever read any of Robert Sawyer's books? If not, I highly recommend. :o)