Saturday, 27 September 2014

Time-travel reblog

Happy Saturday to you! 

Please note: This is almost a reblog of the post I've personally written for my slot today at Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog. 


My day is planned out as a mixture of heavy-duty gardening (ie re-doing a patio)  and writing - now that my guest blogging is live at Wranglers. My internet connections are awful, so I'm taking the opportunity now to give you a taste of my thoughts on time-travel writing- in case you don't see it elsewhere.

Time-travel adventure allows for…?


It’s an amazing thing. A dictionary definition of hindsight will give you something like this: - understanding after the fact; retrospection; observation or perception of what was.

In my early teens, I loved reading H.G.Wells’ novel – The Time Machine. Fantasy isn’t my most favourite genre normally, but reading The Time Machine took me back to Victorian Britain and then on to the adventures the time traveller experienced.  With hindsight, I realise I loved the Victorian historical aspects almost as much as I loved the adventures. The couple of film adaptations I’ve seen, based on the book, have been entertaining interpretations – but for me it’s all about the mind-sets of those Victorian characters and about the historical settings of their ‘normal’ time that appeals the most.
More details are to be found here about The Time Machine if you haven't read the novel.

Over the years since that first reading, I’ve read other time- travel novels and realised the amazing variety that has been produced. There are ones which are more firmly in the sci-fi category, where the characters time-travel to other planets on purpose, or set definite courses for other worlds or alternative earths.

There’s currently a plethora of time- shift plots of the Outlander/ Diana Gabaldon type where a character time-slips- and not necessarily because they want to, but because some event makes it happen. In this type of novel, the character must make decisions which will affect their life when they return to their own time. In effect their future will be set according to what they achieve for themselves in their past.

There are the time-slip novels like Audrey Niffenegger’s ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ where the main character, Henry, finds himself popping in and out of his own life, making appearances as a younger or older man, finding his circumstances confusing till he realises where he is in time and with whom. There are many varieties of this parallel time idea.

There are also those where the adventure takes place firmly in a past time where the protagonists are whisked back either to a pre-set time, or to one which is randomly chosen. The time adventurers spend a while, generally with a quest to fulfil, and then return to their own time enriched by their experience but their futures are not dependent on their actions in that past time, because they have generally done nothing to ‘change’ time.

I can't think of any particular example right now, but maybe you can? 

The mechanisms of the time-travelling are fascinating and can vary so much, as can the ultimate purpose of the novels. There are time ‘portals’ in the form of a mirror (there are lots of time- slip romance novels using this mechanism just now), or a wardrobe as in the ‘Narnia’ novels, or a physical vehicle as in Dr. Who’s Tardis or H.G. Wells’ time machine.

I’ve, so far, only written the one time-travel novel for early teens but I’ve really enjoyed being able to have my characters use the value of hindsight in different ways. Whisked back in time to 209 AD, my trio of kids find themselves in an adventure which scares them silly, confuses them, shocks them and makes them alternatively frustrated and desperate. Sometimes these emotions are produced because they feel physically threatened, but often it’s because they feel a huge responsibility- with the benefit of hindsight they know what’s about to occur but have to be so careful of their involvement in that it makes no major changes to the course of history. To fulfil their demanding mission they use hindsight knowledge, facts gained about the era they are plunged into. 

In this type of time-travel novel I’ve really need to have my historical details sharp as the tacks on the hob-nailed Roman sandals of the advancing Legions. 

After my garden slot today I'll be continuing to polish this little guy's armour.

Have a lovely weekend! 



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