My first attempt at writing a novel, to see if it was possible, and the results any good. The final story was mostly ‘pure’ science fiction and incorporated many elements that were to inform later novels, especially travelling between alternate worlds, though here also including time-travel; paradoxes were avoided by the fact that any past or future times reached were in alternate worlds rather than the originating one, though many of the characters did not realise that until later.
It is not presented here or anywhere else to save myself the embarrassment, though in terms of plot consistency and overall style it is still better than a certain much-maligned space/ vampire/ elf/ paranormal/ pirate/ time-travel novel [†‡] or the all-time favourite The Eye Of Argon (then again, anything is better than that), which make the deliberately bad Atlanta Nights seem like a masterpiece, and reading that was certainly a weird experience.
The overall structure was fairly traditional, of 3 parts (introduction of some characters and plot elements, main story, epilogue), though there were no sub-divisions or chapters within each part, and all of the normal grammar rules were followed.
Although this was the only novel in which I explicitly used the concept of time-travel, where certain characters acted as ‘police’, their basic assumptions were later proven false. Whilst they were certainly travelling backwards in time and then forwards again to their starting-point, where they thought they were ‘correcting’ changes made by other temporal operators, their true position was later revealed to be far more complicated, though in truth it was the only way to prevent the occurrence of the standard paradoxes (e.g., going back in time to prevent your own parents from meeting).
Whereas they assumed time to be a simple line | in a single universe, the true situation was that ‘now’ was the centre of an X, with each / and \ representing travel both in time and across nearby alternative universes, so if someone travelled back to prevent their own birth, they did so in a different universe, thus their own birth remained unaffected (though they prevented the birth of an alternative self). This also explained why the police thought as they did, for every time they went back in time they found things to be not as they were recorded, so they needed ‘correcting’, and whenever they returned home their records (which being based on their own history and not that of the alternative) seemingly provided confirmation that their interference had succeeded, whereas they were actually altering other people’s histories and therefore their futures.
Even at this early stage of my writing I introduced the idea of there being a psychological component to travelling between the alternative parallel dimensions:
- The travelling itself unleashes forces which directly affect the mind and body, causing visions and emotional upsets.
- The best way to select which alternative to travel to is by using the mind as a controller (though not the actual engine), for whilst a brute-force method is possible there are problems with calibration, both in selecting a base as all selections have to be relative (but to what?), and the units and sensitivity (what is reference 157 in one scheme may be 9,572,483,016 in another).
The basic plot involved (yawn) a good-twin vs evil-twin fight in which the time police were drawn into increasingly powerful confrontations, and that’s all that is worth saying about this story.