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Temporal investigation

I’ve been doing a good deal of temporal investigation of my own recently in preparation for Star Trek DTI: Department of Temporal Investigations (as I’m calling it at the moment).  To wit, I’ve been going through just about everything canonical ST has established about time travel, plus certain things from certain books and comics, as background material for building my outline.  I’ve happened across some details that will be very useful to me, and I’ve thought of some interesting ways to connect a number of these bits and pieces together into a larger tapestry.  I think this book will answer a number of questions about time-travel events in the Trek universe, and I think some of the answers will be nicely unexpected.

This is pretty much the same process I used in approaching spacegoing organisms in Orion’s Hounds, galactic prehistory in The Buried Age, and Borg anthropology in Greater Than the Sum: gather everything we know about the subject and try to construct a unified theory that explains or reconciles as much of it as possible.  It’s just the way I think; I’m a student of physics and history, so I approach a subject like a researcher, gathering evidence and then drawing conclusions from it.

Of course, the trick is to work it all into the story in a smooth and integral way that doesn’t feel like a gratuitous exercise in continuity porn.  It needs to feel like I’m telling a story and including information that’s organic and important to that story, rather than just using the story as an excuse to offer my explanations for Trek continuity holes and such (though admittedly that kind of is what I’m doing).  And it needs to be accessible to someone who lacks prior familiarity with the ideas and characters being covered, so that they’ll be able to enjoy it as a self-contained, cohesive story in its own right rather than just a series of continuity nods and winks that you’d have to be a loyal fan to understand.  You have to give a full explanation of everything that’s important to the story, without going overboard lecturing about continuity tidbits that aren’t important to the story.  And you have to make the references that are continuity nods feel indistinguishable from those that are created just for the novel.  It’s a delicate balance.

I’m also planning to do some time-travel reading beyond ST.  I like to draw on original SF as well as real science for inspiration in my Trek work, so I’m planning to read or reread some major works of time-travel fiction.  To that end, I’ve gotten Poul Anderson’s The Time Patrol (the omnibus collecting that entire series except the novel The Shield of Time, which I have on order) and Steven Baxter’s Manifold Time from the library.  I’m also going to reread Asimov’s The End of Eternity and maybe Baxter’s The Time Ships, a sequel to H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine.  I’m debating whether I want to reread Robert L. Forward’s Timemaster.  The science in that book is pretty solid, but it’s rooted in the self-consistent model where history can’t be changed, so its ideas may not be of use to me in DTI.  Also, Forward’s books aren’t really interesting except for the sciencey stuff.  He was a wildly imaginative physicist but not much of a fiction writer.

I’m realizing it’s just as well that my efforts to get a part-time job lately haven’t borne fruit.  I could’ve used the extra money, but with this novel contract I’m now essentially out of the hole for the near future, and I’m going to need to be able to focus pretty heavily on research and outlining for the next few weeks.  I’ll want to resume my job search later on, though, since living from book contract to book contract is too tenuous, and I’d really like to be able to start saving up for a better car or a better apartment or whatever.  But that’s for…

THE FUTURE!!!

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  1. Marc Hart
    April 5, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Chris, what about Silverberg’s Up The Line or Moorcock’s Behold the Man? Both use very different manners of time travel and have an interesting theory on time travel itself.

  2. April 6, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Chris; there’re not novels, but as a good sourcebook I’d recommend the GURPS Time Travel roleplaying game book. John M. Ford was one of the co-writers, and it has a lot of interesting ideas for time-warpery. You might also want to look at All Our Yesterdays, the time travel sourcebook for the Star Trek RPG.

  3. marc11218
    April 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Chris,

    Good luck with the writing but one question I have:

    Will you be expanding on that episode or something? I’m guessing this is a standalone that just focuses on siad department.

    • April 9, 2010 at 6:52 am

      Not so much on that particular episode as on the concept of the Department of Temporal Investigations. It’s an exploration of the work they do, and an examination of time travel in the Trek universe overall, seen from a different perspective than usual.

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