Hey all! Awesome author Catherine Fisher (the Incarceron and Relic Masters series, among other things) has written up a fun post about the ideas of time-travel and the variations of this classic fantasy/scifi idea. Take it away Catherine!
Everyone has done it, of course.
I’m not sure if H.G. Wells was the first to invent a machine that could travel in time- probably not- but it’s the story everyone thinks of. He gives a great idea of the changes in one place in that great passage where the machine is operated- the traveler can see time speeding up and the whole world flickering and moving around him.
Another time travel book I love is Hope Hodgeson’s The House on the Borderland, which has that epic section at the end where the hero sees the whole history of the universe in one gorgeous outburst of purple prose.
I also like Jack Finney’s book Time and Again where the method of travel is just a mental trick. No machines at all.
For modern people time goes in a straight line, but in folklore time is very different,. If you go to the Otherworld there is no time- everything happens at once. No one gets old or dies. Nothing grows. Everything just is.
And then, if you come back, for you no time has passed, but for the world centuries have gone and you usually crumble to dust. Or, like Oisin, who fell from his horse and touched the soil of Ireland, you become old instantly.
If a boy is snatched into the Otherworld- a changeling- he will stay the same, though the outside world will alter completely.
And then Time is the one thing humans haven’t been able to tamper with. If a thing happens we have to live with it, and the memory of it. Even if that memory is unbearable. So if a man in that situation found a machine that would allow him to go back and re-live that terrible event, would he do it?
All this is what lies behind the Chronoptika project which I’m working on at the moment. The first book THE OBSIDIAN MIRROR comes out in the UK in October and in the US in 2013.
It’s still very much in progress, so I’m at that scary but interesting stage where the characters have arrived and the story is begun, but I have no real idea how it will all end who will live, who will die, who will succeed, who will fail. Anything could happen.
But once it’s written, it too will be fixed in time, and unchangeable.