Monday, March 19, 2007

Archetypes and dimensions and time-travel, oh my!

Well, I didn't write last night. It was a conscious decision more than a lack of discipline. I chose to spend the evening with DH watching Rome. After last night, there is only one more episode, and then I can reclaim Sunday nights for writing. But it felt nice to have some "us" time with the baby asleep and no pressure to be doing other stuff.

Today was (relatively) slow at work during most of the day. I still had to stay late for QA on two special treatment plans, and so worked about an 11-hour day. But during part of the afternoon I got caught up on commenting on the rest of the March Xs on Compuserve. Finally.

Tonight (at least the 6 week hiatus from Heroes has the benefit of an extra writing night) the baby went to bed late, and I got a late start due to researching some land near here that we might - might - buy to build a house on. Once I got started, I was doing fairly well. Hit my stride just as DH got home from a last-minute trip to B&N (25% coupons expired tonight!). We struck up a conversation, and there went my stride. I only got about 150 new words. But I've (re)broken 28K, at least!

However, the progress was made primarily in DH's and my conversation. It helped to nail down some of the concepts for my premise. Worldbuilding, if you will.

It started off with me reading him a funny and cryptic bit from "Young" Teresa to Elspeth just after the latter has arrived in Kilchurn, 1691. Elspeth's (internal) response was something along the lines of "Now that was a remark worthy of the old crone with the push-cart." and DH asked what, exactly was Teresa, anyway?

My response? I have no idea. An archetype, is what she is. Beyond that...?

See, I'm coming at the time-travel from a scientific angle here. (Well, as much of one as I can manage.) But the point is, most of the other time-travel books I've read involve magic/fairies/gods/etc. That's not what I'm doing. Elspeth is a physicist, she has a hypothesis, and her hypothesis is based in physics: wormholes, higher dimensions, etc. There's no "mystical" element. So where does that leave Teresa, the woman with "prophetic" powers who lives in at least two time periods and knows Elspeth in both? I have no frigging clue.

At some point in the story, Alec and Elspeth are going to have a conversation about magic vs. science. Elspeth, you see, does not believe in magic. Alec questions that, when it is such a part of his culture, and so many things from her time seem magical to him. "There is no magic," Elspeth quotes "only science we haven't discovered yet." This is a reference to Clarke's Third Law. How, then, Alec asks, can she still believe in God? That's different, she says, and thus commences a bit more theological/scientific discussion. Basically, she can (and does) believe in the supernatural and in a Higher God, but not in what is commonly held as "magic."

Anyway, I'm running with the "predestination paradox" idea (also called a "causality loop") for Elspeth. Hence the "you can only do what you have already done" and "you were here, and so you are here" comments from Old and Young Teresa, respectively. I was discussing this with DH, which led to the following elaborations:

Elspeth's timeline/lifeline is linear and unbroken with regards to her frame of reference.

With regards to the universe's frame of reference, Elspeth's timeline appears to "jag" and is nonlinear (indeed, not intact), creating a causal loop.

Seen from higher dimensions, Elspeth's location in time and her location in physical space, when plotted, form a straight line that intersects with the wormhole in (at least) two places.

(Side note: this "spatial" focus is a big part of the religion/mythology of the Australian Aboriginal tribes. So I got a little "tingle" when I started thinking about how important her physical location in space actually was, even when thinking in higher dimensions.)

Anyway, I kind of envision Elspeth traveling along in her nice, normal, linear life, until her location in time and space intersects with the wormhole. At which point, from the universe's point of view, she is pulled away from the trajectory of her lifeline and 300 years into the past, where she exists for a time, influencing history as we know it today, even as her actions in the past are influenced by her knowledge of history, which is (unbeknownst to her) partly a result of her own actions...see, I told you it was a causal loop. But then she intersects with the wormhole again, and manages to pop back out onto her original timeline, and continues from there.

A similar intersection occurs with Alec, but since he is moving "forward" (from the universe's POV) there is no causal loop. Yet. (Who's to say what happens in a potential sequel?)

Wow, this is probably hard to follow. It's in my head, but hard to explain clearly because it's kind of an "out there" concept. Most of it won't have to be elaborated in the book, at least. What's important is that *I* have the concept in my head, and so the story will be richer for it.

I consider that progress, even if it's not wordage.

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