Tag Archive for 'time travel'

happy birthday, fair coin!

FairCoin_2Hey, remember when Pyr Books published my first novel, Fair Coin? That was something like, two years ago. Almost exactly two years ago. Okay, it was exactly two years ago today.

If you had a time-traveling DeLorean, you could enter MAR 06 2012 into its time circuits and go back to pick the book up on its release day. (Thanks!) Don’t have a time machine? Well, you can still find Fair Coin in quality independent book shops and on the internet, even in 2014.

In the novel, Ephraim’s “wishing coin” completely changes his life, and the book has done the same for me — fortunately in all good ways. So far. The last year as an author has been particularly great, what with all the wonderful authors, librarians, teachers, and readers I’ve met; an amazing new audiobook narrated by MacLeod Andrews; and of course a shiny Andre Norton Award. No complaints here. Thank you to everyone who has read Fair Coin and reviewed it, recommended it, voted for it, bought it for a kid, shared it with a parent, and just generally been very supportive.

ttIt’s been two years, but I promise I’ve been working on new books, and I really expect to finish them any day now… Really, I’m not kidding. Stop giving me that look. Whether they get published is another matter, but I’m at least going to try to get my part done.

I also have written and sold a few short stories this year that should be published soonish in exciting collections, and I even have two recent story publications — a YA time-travel story titled “Shadows of My Future Self” in Inaccurate Realities #2, and a reprint of “Caution: Contents Hot” in Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic — so you could always look for those. And if you’d like to see me in person, check out my event calendar.

In the meantime, I hope Fair Coin‘s twos aren’t too terrible, especially since its younger brother is coming up on a birthday in about six months…

(BTW, by crazy random happenstance, today is also the birthday of Faircoin, “the first fairly distributed crypto currency”! You can use that to buy books, right?)

 

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links to the past

Apologies for the lack of my Alternate Wednesday posts of late; oddly enough, it’s a matter of not having enough time for them. I thought the biweekly schedule would be manageable, but with a novel to revise and multiple deadlines for various projects (including several other blogs I contribute to–see below), it has been the easiest thing to put aside. But I enjoy writing them, and I hope some of you enjoy reading them, so they will continue–but perhaps on a sporadic basis for the moment.

"Yesterday's Enterprise"That said, I’m double-dipping this week. It’s no surprise that many of my favorite episodes of Star Trek (in all its incarnations) involve time travel and/or alternate realities. So last week I was happy to cover one of the very best of these in the ongoing Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch at The Viewscreen: “Yesterday’s Enterprise“. Here’s an excerpt:

But I tell you, this episode is exciting, not least because it fills in some of the time between Kirk’s era and the TNG years, with the introduction of the Enterprise-C. (It hits some of the same buttons for me that “Babylon Squared” on Babylon 5 does, my favorite episode of the first season in which the Babylon 4 station reappears due to a temporal anomaly…) And I love this vessel, a beautiful melding of the best features of the Constitution-class and Galaxy-class designs. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” also has high stakes, gruesome deaths, and it looks and sounds more cinematic than anything on the show previously. I’m also a sucker for stories in which one ship or one person makes a huge impact for others–even in failure; we always root for the Enterprise to survive, but the idea that one crew’s sacrifice could still be a victory of sorts is gratifying.

Pop over there to see my episode recap and read reviews by me, Torie Atkinson, and our fine commenters.

I also had two other guest blog posts this week, if you haven’t had enough of me:

And finally, here’s a link to download a free PDF of Sybil’s Garage No. 7, which among many fantastic pieces includes one of my favorite short stories that I’ve written, “My Father’s Eyes”. It’s even kind of YA-ish, though with a slightly older main character, a photographer named Ambrose. And here’s the editor talking about the issue, Anne Frank, Justin Bieber, and the band Neutral Milk Hotel.

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alternate wednesday: the time traveler’s watch

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We always pay a lot of attention to the mechanisms of time travel–a DeLorean, the Millenium Shortcut, slingshotting around the sun at warp speed–but every time traveler has another important tool: a watch.  Sometimes it’s just there for symbolism, like the paradoxical pocket watch in Somewhere in Time, but often it serves a more practical purpose, what it was made for–to keep track of time.

martyClocks are everywhere in Back to the Future, and Marty McFly’s digital watch is more than just a gag; there’s a reason that the poster shows him checking his watch: being in the right place at exactly the right time is a major plot point. Recently, another timepiece caught my eye in one of my favorite science fiction shows, Fringe.

Without spoiling the surprising twists the series takes, in its final season, there’s a certain amount of time travel involved. In episode seven of season five, “Five-Twenty-Ten”, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) needs to pay very careful attention to the time at which specific events take place… and I really liked the watch he used. (I have no idea how you keep that synced while jumping around in time, but whatever.)

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I figured it would be tricky finding it since the brand name was blacked out for the episode, but naturally, someone else on the internet had already identified it. Thanks, internet! (It turns out that identifying watches worn by celebrities is a hobby for some people.) Ultimately, I learned it’s a Fossil Relic watch, model ZR15552… which is no longer in production. Darn! But hey, there’s eBay. Thanks again, internet! In short, I now own a little piece of Fringe history and I’m prepared for my next temporal displacement.

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I’m really gonna miss that show.

Watches almost seem like anachronisms today, with many people just using their cell phones to tell the time. Do you still wear one? Have you ever bought something because you saw it in a TV show or film?

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alternate wednesday: my favorite time machine

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“Might solve a mystery / Or rewrite history…”

Most people would probably guess that my favorite time machine in fiction is the DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. That’s a pretty good guess, and I would definitely like to own one someday! Preferably one that runs on a garbage-fueled fusion reactor and can fly. But the time machine I like the most is the Millennium Shortcut.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-19h07m56s104Never heard of it? The Millennium Shortcut, likely a riff on Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, was the time machine used in the five-part DuckTales miniseries, “Time is Money.” I loved the simple yet elegant design, clearly inspired by old-style alarm clocks—a giant leap forward from the first time machine Gyro Gearloose invented, the time-tub.

If you never saw it or no longer remember the premise of the story, which first aired as a TV movie in 1988, Scrooge McDuck tries to claim prior ownership of a cave of diamonds—before Flintheart Glomgold can steal it from him—by traveling back in time and scrawling his symbol, $, all over its walls with a laser. Through a series of mishaps (after all, Launchpad McQuack is piloting the Shortcut), they accidentally go much farther back, to prehistoric times, where they pick up two stowaways: cave duck Bubba and his pet triceratops, Tootsie. Hijinks ensue, and in the end, Bubba Duck joins the main cast for a season, and Duck Tales jumps the megalodon.

Okay, so the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, even for a time travel story. But it’s so unabashedly nonsensical, with plenty of sappy moments, I couldn’t help loving it. And I always enjoyed multi-part episodes of my childhood cartoons because stories spread out over two, four, or five episodes were so much bigger in scope than your usual 22-minute episode.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-19h11m59s33But my favorite thing about the Millenium Shortcut (other than its name) was the unique power source that enabled it to travel in time: bombastium. It was a rainbowy element that took the form of a popsicle, and it had to remain frozen in order to work. You didn’t even need a time machine to use it, but without a computer to control it, licking it would take you to a random time period, with no reliable way home. I had thought Gyro somehow invented bombastium, but when I just researched it, I learned it isn’t even original to DuckTales.

Like many stories and plot elements in the series, bombastium was borrowed from a Carl Barks comic. (I really need to read all of those.) According to Wikipedia:

Source: http://www.cbarks.dk/

Source: http://www.cbarks.dk/

Bombastium is stated to be the rarest element in the world. Even though it is very coveted, its usage potential is not entirely known. One characteristic is that it tastes different every time you try it, and scientists eventually discovered that one atom of bombastium dropped into a barrel of water becomes one barrel of ice cream: a different flavor of ice cream each time. To avoid evaporation, bombastium must be kept frozen.

vlcsnap-2013-02-26-12h59m03s242On Duck Tales, bombastium just melts, which adds a kind of ticking clock (ha ha) to the climax of the story where Bubba is running out of time (sorry!) to get back to Duckburg. Fortunately, the computer is smart enough to locate the correct time just by fixing on his crudely drawn sketch of Uncle Scrooge and the directive, “Find Scooge!” Nonsense maybe, but the Shortcut was designed specifically for Launchpad to operate, after all.

There were some other great time machines to come out of the Disney Afternoon, which I will probably mention in later posts. But now it’s your turn: In the comments below, tell me about your favorite method of time travel in fiction.

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alternate wednesday: an alternate groundhog day

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The U.S. celebrated Groundhog Day a couple of weeks ago (is there an international, or even fictional equivalent, I wonder?), and as usual, it was an opportunity for geeks everywhere to show our appreciation for one of the greatest time travel films ever made: Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andy MacDowell. Like I need an excuse to re-watch it! But this year the occasion reminded me of another film that is not nearly as well known…

1201PMBefore the Syfy Channel (née Sci-Fi Channel) built its reputation on making so-bad-they’re-good genre films, Fox was the champion of low-budget SF movies-of-the-week. The nostalgic and sometimes faulty part of my brain fondly remembers the 90s as the heyday of  TV movies, and Fox gave us instant classics such as Generation X, W.E.I.R.D. World, and Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (starring David Hasselhoff in the titular role). Many of them were obviously backdoor pilots for new TV shows or cheap knockoffs of Hollywood blockbusters, but my favorite of the era was 12:01.

Starring Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s), Helen Slater (Supergirl), Jeremy Piven, and Martin Landau, on the surface it looks like a rehash of Groundhog Day. Whereas the latter film doesn’t really try to explain the cause of the 24-hour time loop, 12:01 attributes it to a science experiment that threatens to trap the entire world in the same day. Silverman is not quite as talented or entertaining as Bill Murray, but he got the job done. I remember liking him and Slater and in general appreciating the film on its own merits. And it turns out it may not be a ripoff of Groundhog Day at all–in fact, the creators maintained that Groundhog Day stole from them.

groundhogCould be. 12:01 was based on a 1990 short film directed by Jonathan Heap called 12:01 PM, which was in turn adapted from a short story of the same title by Richard Lupoff, published in the December 1973 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. (Lupoff followed up with “12:02 PM” and “12:03 PM” in issues from 2012 and 2013–I’ve gotta track these down.) In the short film, which aired on Showtime’s 30-Minute Movie series, Myron Castleman (played by Kurtwood Smith) repeats the same hour over and over again, from 12:01 to 1:00 p.m. At least it’s his lunch break.

Director Jack Sholder expanded on this premise for 12:01, which aired on Fox on July 5, 1993. Groundhog Day was released on Feb. 12, 1993. Suspiciously close timing, but I can understand the skepticism–at least as far as the film versions go. Whichever came first, it’s a shame because there’s no avoiding the similarities, and 12:01 actually compares pretty favorably. Good enough that even though I haven’t seen it in a while, I may just grab it on DVD instead of digging out my old VHS tape from storage.

If you’re curious about this time loopy alternative to a beloved film, here’s the trailer for the Fox film, 12:01:

And here is the rarely seen short film version, which I hadn’t even heard of until researching this post.

So here’s my question of the week: If you could re-do anything from the last 24 hours, what would it be?

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