“Time Travel” Guest Post & Giveaway with J.L. Bryan
Today is release day for J.L. Bryan’s Nomad! Don’t forget to pick up your copy after reading his hilarious take on Time Travel. Also, you can check out my reviews of his Jenny Pox series HERE.
Time Travel, Paradoxes, and Kim Kardashian
by J. L. Bryan
How does time travel work? This is the question a writer must consider before creating a time-travel story—not so much in the sense of how an actual time machine would operate, but how cause and effect can (or can’t) be altered through time travel. Philosophers, physicists, and science-fiction writers have put forth a number of ideas, from the idea that history cannot be changed to the idea that time travel can create a paradox that destroys the universe.
We’ll explore a few of the major ideas using a fictional character we’ll call Maggie. Maggie is a somewhat unstable young woman with a time machine, and she can’t stand Kim Kardashian. She’s so sick of hearing about Kim Kardashian that she decides to travel back in time and murder Kim at a young age, so that Kim Kardashian never becomes famous and never appears on television or in the tabloids. This, Maggie hopes, will create a blissful, Kim-Kardashian-free world.
Maggie’s mission could have a number of different results, based on different theories of time travel:
1.Novikov self-consistency principle. This is a fun term because it sounds so serious and Russian. This idea states that the timeline can never be changed. If time travelers from the future are going to travel into the past, then their actions have already been incorporated into the history we know. The film 12 Monkeys follows this idea—Bruce Willis can travel into the past and gather information, but he can’t change a thing, because all his actions as a time traveler (including his own death) have already been incorporated into existing history.
In this case, our murderous friend Maggie would travel into the past, but she could not change anything. Nothing will stop the relentless rise of the Kardashians, because every event in history is set in stone forever.
2. “Many-worlds” Hypothesis. Drawing on quantum physics, this idea is that a huge, perhaps infinite, number of alternate universes already exist. In another universe, you might work a different job, live in a different town, have a different spouse or different children, etc. In this case, changing history through time travel is basically ineffective, because it simply leads to another alternate universe, while your own original timeline is not altered.
Maggie could travel back and complete her mission, but it would merely spawn one more alternate universe among countless universes. Upon returning to her own time and place, Maggie would discover, to her great frustration, that nothing had changed, unless she can also travel into the alternate universe that resulted from her actions.
3.Apocalyptic Paradox. This is the idea, frequently referenced in the Back to the Future movies, that a paradox can unravel the space-time continuum, destroying the entire universe. At the very least, Marty McFly interfering with his parents in high school causes Marty and his siblings to be slowly erased from the world.
In this example, Maggie might go back and kill Kim Kardashian before she ever becomes famous. However, this removes Maggie’s entire motive for traveling in time. In the new version of history, Maggie has never heard of Kim Kardashian, and therefore has no motive for traveling back in time to kill her. As a result, Maggie never makes that time-travel journey. As a result, Kim Kardashian lives and becomes famous, which motivates Maggie to get into a time machine and kill her…an impossible loop of contradictory events is created that causes a system-wide crash across the universe. As all of existence goes up in smoke, Maggie thinks, at least I finally got rid of those annoying Kardashians.
These are the three major approaches to how time travel works. For my new time-travel dystopian novel Nomad, I used none of them.
Many thanks to Liz for hosting me on her blog for Nomad’s release today! You can enter to win an ebook of Nomad from Liz! The ebook is just $2.99 for the launch, but its regular price will be $3.99 (Retailer links at my website).
They took everything: her family, her home, her childhood.
By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator when he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight.
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on English Renaissance and Romantic literature. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He lives in the metro Atlanta sprawl with his wife Christina, where he spends most of his day serving the toddler and animal community inside his house. He is the author of the Paranormals series and the Songs of Magic series. His book Jenny Pox is currently free on Kindle, Nook, Apple, Sony, Kobo, and Smashwords!