April 14, 2014

Adventures in Genre-Hopping: Research

I want to dive into the genre of Time Travel. I love Doctor Who and Back to the Future, so this genre is exciting to me. Nothing is off-limits! I can travel back to ancient times, or I can go back to the 1990s. I'm not sure which would be scarier to write about, to be honest.

So, I'm thinking the first step would be research. I've gathered a bunch of different books and movies. Here are the titles I've gone through so far:

Movies:
Back to the Future movies (my all-time favorite movie trilogy ever!)
Somewhere in Time (an older time travel romance with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour)
The Time Traveler's Wife
Groundhog Day (If you haven't seen this comedy, it's one of my favorites)
Terminator series (which I had never seen before, but my sister was kind enough to get special versions of the entire series for me!)

Books:
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (very science heavy)
Timebound by Rysa Walker (young adult)
Remembrance by Michelle Madow (this was more of a reincarnation story)
Tempest by Julie Cross  (YA with multiple time streams--this plot could get messy in the sequels, but I'm intrigued!)
Nick of Time by Ted Bell (AWESOME middle grade adventure story with pirates and nazis!)

I'm open to suggestions. What are your favorites?

So there are different theories about time travel... difference approaches. 

In Back to the Future, Marty changes the past and immediately starts to notice changes in items he brought with him from the present/future. This is an open loop--anything he does can change history

In The Time Traveler's Wife, no matter what anyone does, the future is the future. There's nothing they can do to prevent things from happening. This is a closed loop.

Terminator did a mix of both, which I thought was really creative. It's closed loop at first, and everything Sarah Connor does eventually leads to the future she's familiar with.... until she changes things. Sarah deliberately changes the future and I LOVE that she was able to do that. A great alternative.

But I really (really, really) loved the way Pathfinder kind of took these two approaches and just tore them apart. The characters would receive a message from the future and change what they were going to do to prevent, say, a bar fight. The bar fight never happens. Then they sit and discuss whether or not they need to go back in time and warn themselves not to get in the bar fight. 
Well.... the fight never actually happened, so there's nothing to warn us about. Right?
They get into these deep philosophical conversations about reality and destiny, but it's all completely hilarious because the characters are just as confused as the reader. I'd just like to say that Orson Scott Card is a master of science fiction.

I'm not sure I can pull that off. Card has been doing scifi forEVER and he knows this stuff inside and out. The thought of tackling this level of time travel theory is really intimidating. 

But when it comes to open loop or closed loop, I'm DEFINITELY for open loop. What's the point in time travel if you can't change anything? I believe that people have the ability to do things for themselves, to change their destiny, and make their own paths. So, I think I'll write something closer to Back to the Future, rather than Time Traveler's Wife. (I just hated the sense of helplessness.)

I also liked Timebound. Not only did Walker explore one of the creepiest men in history, she made her character give up everything when she went back in time. As in: If I go back in time, my boyfriend won't know who I am when I come back home. I loved this! If you're going to time travel, that's a huge amount of power and responsibility. There needs to be a lot of risk and sacrifice.

So that's where I am right now. 

What should I read next?

5 comments:

Bob Mueller said...

Have you checked out the Time Travel article at Wikipedia? Lots of the science surrounding it, and a section pertaining to TT in fiction.

I keep toying with the idea of alternate histories, myself. Can't quite decide whether to pull the trigger. Then again, I've got like 6 outlines in my Ideas file, plus a sequel to The Sad Girl....sigh. :)

Bob Mueller said...

PS: Check out Timesplash, by Graham Storrs. Interesting science in that one, in that time travelers are lobbed back in time, then pulled back a few hours later.

Mark Grago said...

A Brief History of Time",by Stephen Hawking.

Katharina Gerlach said...

another story that's partly time travel and partly interconnected fantasy worlds is "Homeward Bounders" by Diana Wynne Jones, a book I love very much. You never notice the time traveling aspect of the story until it's too late. ;-)

Emily Casey said...

Thank you all for the suggestions! I've added some books to my to-read list. :)

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