Monday, June 18, 2012


Hi, Rosalie Skinner here, author of the Science fiction fantasy series The Chronicles of Caleath.

The other day I heard a news item explaining how the possibility of time travel seems to be creeping closer.

Is it really a possibility at all?

Could you, or your character, survive traveling in time?

Suppose a character did survive and did not change the future too radically. (I don’t want to get bogged down with the paradoxes offered if we consider the risks.) 

Today I thought we could think about practical time travel and what our characters need to pack.

For this exercise, I would include travel across dimensions, realms, through portals, back in time, forward in time, outside of time. You get the drift. In Fantasy the parameters are endless, so let’s imagine our characters are about to take off, whether they are prepared or not.

What should they take with them? What do we allow them to take with them?

Include knowledge… specific fields of knowledge, skills, etc as well as artifacts. A flashlight, matches, compass might be feasible, whereas a mobile phone probably isn’t much use. Dr Who’s sonic screwdriver seems to have multiple functions. I want one of them if ever it comes to packing.

In my series, TheChronicles of Caleath, several space travelers are exiled on a strange planet. They bring with them very few articles from their home world, but they carry implants and knowledge. 

Each has their own background career wisdom as a resource to use in the new world.

What do you see as the most important or useful item or skill for your Fantasy character to keep as they cross time/space/dimension?

As your characters face this situation, what will you equip them with?

How will they cope?

There are no wrong answers. Your time starts NOW…


Rosalie Skinner said...

Thanks for dropping in...
There are not time constraints here...

ediFanoB said...

Time Travel is such a fascinating topic.

The only problem is not to get lost or to end up whith a knot in your brain.

Wendy said...

Good question Rosalie,
I think the things an author allows her characters to carry into a different era should not be too obviously a 'get-out-of-trouble' device even though they usually are. When my Stefan travelled back to 1307 he took matches for the express purpose of showing off some futuristic 'magic'. However the orange string he'd forgotten to throw away and the compass he friend gave him for the trip, as well as his olastic comb, did come in handy.
I gave my hero a screwdriver, too, because his grandfather said it had magic properties and while ever he carried it, it would link him to home. The real reason I used it in the story was because it was a Swiss invention -the PB100with translucent red handle,and I wanted to focus on the Swissness of the setting.
One item I neglected to give my Stefan was a camera. A couple of times he mentioned how much he wished he'd remembered to bring one.
I look forward to hearing what other characters would take.

Karen Cote said...

Hi Lady Rosalie! Such exciting and innovative stories by a talented and lovely author. Big hugs and admiration sent your way.

Charlotte Babb said...

Americans are known for their lack of ability to "play nice" with other contemporary cultures because we bring a lot of unconscious baggage along. For example, most of our positive hand gestures (OK, Thumbs Up) have vulgar connotations in some other cultures.

Anyone who moves into a different space/time continuum will be out of sync with the locals, and will contain some of that baggage: expectations, experiences, world views, mores, mannerisms, and speech patterns that will not mesh.

The preparatory information the person brings will be wrong at some level, even if it is provided by previous visitors to that time/space.

It is that fish-out-of-water experience that often makes time travel stories interesting: first contact with the past or the future or the other.

If the locals are used to time travelers, this may make the traveler interesting to the locals as a target for amusement (See Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five).

Back to the Future III used the "advanced technology"--no gasoline for the Delorean to get up to 88 miles an hour--as a plot device to drive the story. There's nothing like a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe when the battery runs out.

The writer needs to think about the world-building aspect of the time/space, to clue the reader in to the otherness of the setting.

Otherwise, the time-travel aspect tends to be a costume piece McGuffin, not really central to the story, only window dressing.

Charlotte Babb said...

We bring a lot of unconscious biases, assumptions and general baggage that we would not easily leave behind on travel to a new time/space. The story should address those, whether the traveler is making an intentional journey or just falling through a wall.

What makes many time-tavel/alternate universes interesting is the fish-out-of-water experiences that traveler has. The reader, of course, is always in that invisible space of seeing how another person/culture/species experiences life, but the writer has to make that time/space continuum real to the traveler as well.

One thing the traveler learns is that what she thinks she knows is wrong. No matter how well-researched or prepared the traveller is, critical details are missed (See Connie Willis, _the Doomsday Book_, or Georgia Young's _The Time Baronness-.)

The time period needs to be the mcguffin of the story--what drives _Back to the Future III_ is the lack of gasoline for the DeLorean to reach 88 mph to get back to 1985. Advanced technology that does not work due to different laws of physics (Faery), unavailable energy source (pre-1900), or simple breakdowns that the non-techie traveler can't fix (anywhen) is often the basis for the story.

If there are no challenges due to changes in social mores (Georgia Young's The Time Baronness), speech patterns, unfamiliar food, clothing, toilet and bathing rituals, etc., then the story seems just a cosplay piece rather than time/dimension travel.

The Doctor's screwdriver is a plot device, just as the tardis is much larger inside than outside, and the doctor is more than 900 years old, despite getting a new body every so often and never having to be pre-pubescent again.

The writer can put in as much "Applied Phlebotium" as necessary to make things work, but the less of that makes the more of the story as it develops the characters.

John B. Rosenman said...

I recently published a time-travel story, "Killers," with Musa Publishing. The most important items my main character takes with her are clothes that fit the historical eras involved so she doesn't stand out as an obvious anachronism. In the story, Wardrobe supplies clothes for the time-travel agency, and Diana goes back in time to see Mozart, Socrates, and finally John Keats.

Marva Dasef said...

I'd borrow the Tardis, then return it before I borrowed it. Doctor Who would never know. Or would he?

Rosalie Skinner said...

Hmm.. I wonder if he'd mind. If you had enough adventure while travelling he might join you. He could bring his sonic screwdriver.

Rosalie Skinner said...

David Tennant would be welcome in any time zone I visited. :)

Susan Royal said...

Time travel has always been intriguing to me. Just imagine the idea of experiencing your favorite era in time and actually being there. Or getting to meet someone in history you've read about and admired. Talk about a rush!

Susan Royal said...

Time travel has always been intriguing to me. Just imagine the idea of experiencing your favorite era in time and actually being there. Or getting to meet someone in history you've read about and admired. Talk about a rush!

Susan Royal said...

Time travel has always been intriguing to me. Just imagine the idea of experiencing your favorite era in time and actually being there. Or getting to meet someone in history you've read about and admired. Talk about a rush!

Anita Davison said...

Just read a great story where the heroine drifts between the present and the past but is given no warning so cannot prepare. Not many things could be taken back without her being accused of witchcraft for having them - but maybe some gold coins and diamonds sewn into her clothes would give her an advantage. Oh and self defence skills would be good - they were a violent lot then and didn't think twice about hitting a woman!

Rosalie Skinner said...

Thanks for joining us...

Wendy, a camera. What a great idea. Didn't think of that.

Karen, always lovely to have you drop in. :) Hugs.

Anita, self defence.. good idea. Gold.. diamonds.. if you can get them, you might need the self defence to keep them.. here or there! Still.. great idea.

Susan, the ideas are endless.

John, clothes.. true. They do set an era. What an interesting story 'Killers' sounds. Hope your killer doesn't harm our great historic figures.

Charolette, great points. You are right, it is the writer's responsibility to ensure the time travel transition works smoothly with their story telling, whether it is a plot device or background for character building. The cultural differences and yeah, hygiene, are important things to remember. Thanks for your wonderful comments.

Hi Edi, Not tying knots is vital. :)

Thanks everyone for joining the discussion.

Seeing the bodies that go with the Easter Island heads has me thinking of a time travel story based on 1200- 1500 AD when these were said to be made.

Love being a science fiction fantasy writer. The scope for allowing our research and imagination to run wild is priceless.