Notes for “On The Road”

So, thanks to M. E. Kinkaide, I wrote the beginnings of a story yesterday, a post which WordPress evidently decided to delete today, for reasons of its own. No matter, I wrote it in an Open Office document and I’ve reposted it.

M E Kinkaide made a fairly simple challenge, to write a time travel story with a female protagonist.  As it happens, I live with a woman who loves road trips.  (The esteemed photographer and philosopher MzSusanB.)

So I took as my genesis a woman who is able to travel through time as a function of travelling through space. (Which, if you’ve seen MzSusanB’s Flickr page, I suspect my roommate can also do.)

Now wanted the ability to reside within my protagonist, not the car, so I figured that what I would do would be to make her ability to travel a function of her current velocity, relative to the Earth.  (Yes, I know that the Earth is constantly in motion, but I am going to assume that the motion of the Earth sets the temporal-spacial baseline from which my traveler departs.) (Go ahead, poke holes in my pseudo-science.  I’ll just make more.)

So she can move through time at any time that she is in motion spatially.   This limits the range of eras that my traveler can visit, since any time period in which rapid transportation is not available is a one way trip–she can get there, but she wouldn’t be able to travel back.

I then started thinking about how to do the math.  Arbitrarily I decided that a sixty year trip (about the age of the Interstate Highway system in America) would take two hours of subjective time at highway speeds.  A two hour drive gives me a good limit on the power, I think.  (Note, this already makes my original story non-canonical, since I had her traveling through time at about twice that rate.  But there are other reasons that I’m scrapping that story, anyway.)

After playing with numbers I decided on a function where the cube of the speed in miles per minute was multiplied by the rate of travel in days per minute.  (For math geeks, I started with 60MPH = 180days/minute and worked out from there.)  This way I have an extreme curve–the lower velocities translate into much lower rates of time travel.

The Time&Space Chart, with approximates for ease of plotting

The Time&Space Chart, with approximates for ease of plotting

Okay, so that takes care of the mechanics.

As to “how” she is able to do it, I have no idea.  I suspect that it’s some sort of mental mutation.  With this mechanic, I can assume that others with this ability have been born from time to time throughout history, but their range would be limited by the speeds at which they had been able to move through space.  (Thus do I get to avoid all manner of paradoxes.)

Now, as to the story I wrote yesterday, I don’t like the ending.  I was putting together a bit of flash fiction, so I wanted a big showy ending, but on reflection, I don’t want there to be any other time travelers in this story.  First, because one time traveler makes plotting a nightmare, multiple time travelers just makes things worse.  And second, because I want my protagonist to be the time traveler, not just one of many.

As cute as the hitchhiker with a cardboard sign reading “1987” is as an image, he’s off the bus.

So… story.  We open with her living a comfortable life, selling antiques and collectibles (she wouldn’t want to disrupt history by selling things from the local future to the local past).  I’m thinking that she’ll end up revealing her ability to her contact at the shop where she sells the Jazz albums, probably because he dies in an accident and she goes back to prevent it.

Then, once the record dealer knows that she can travel in time, he’ll ask her to take him back for something–maybe so that he can hear Dave Brubeck play live–and against her better judgement, she agrees to do it. Just this once.

Then, of course , everything goes smoothly and there are no problems at all.  Ha, ha, just kidding.  Somehow the time streams will get messed up and then she’ll have to figure out what happened and fix it.

Okay, these are just my thoughts, but I think I might want to play with this concept for a while and see what happens.  Time travel, adventure, and maybe a little romance.

Oh, and Marc Bolan.  If I’m going to write a time travel novel, I am definitely going to put Marc Bolan in it.  Which means I’ll have to find out when he toured the US, if ever…

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Notes for “On The Road”

  1. Dave Higgins says:

    I find myself completely unsurprised that you worked out the mathematics of time-travel for a story that is barely a page long.

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