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DTI marches on

The Simon & Schuster Digital Catalog page for DTI:Watching the Clock has a preliminary cover image up now.  This is not the final cover, but it’s one prominent image element from that cover:

DTI Watching the Clock preliminary cover

This is a rendition of the famous Shepherd Gate Clock at the Royal Greenwich Observatory.   In the novel, the DTI’s headquarters are about half a kilometer north of this clock, and nearly precisely on the Prime Meridian.  And yes, there is a scene where this clock actually appears, although the DTI characters are not specifically described as watching it.  I’m not that literal-minded.  (Or rather, it just didn’t occur to me to insert such a gag until just now.)

Last night, the night before my deadline, I sent in the revised copyedit pages for DTI:WTC to my editor.  In addition to fixing some mistakes and streamlining some repetitive passages, I also made a couple of tweaks that I think are improvements.  I added a bit of suspense and danger to a scene that was too lacking in it.  And I got to correct an oversight.  In developing the novel, I read a whole bunch of classic SF novels and stories involving time travel, from Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity and Poul Anderson’s The Time Patrol to Stephen Baxter’s Manifold: Time and Greg Egan’s “Singleton,” among others.  But one book I wasn’t able to track down was Gregory Benford’s Timescape.  Well, that’s not quite right; I’m sure I could’ve requested a copy from the library if I’d made the effort.  But I recalled reading it back around when it first came out and having some conceptual problems with its tale of using tachyon communication to send messages back in time, so I wasn’t sure I wanted it as a reference.  I failed to consider the fact that I was around 11 years old when it first came out, so maybe my memories were too vague.  And ever since I finished the manuscript, I’ve regretted that I didn’t track down the novel and refresh my memory, at least.

Anyway, just a week after I got the copyedits, I happened across Timescape in a used-book store and figured that maybe it wasn’t too late after all.  I bought it and read it, and I’m glad I did.  It’s really kind of a pivotal work.  Benford is a physicist who incorporates ideas from his actual research into his fiction, so Timescape is one of the most scientifically rigorous time-travel novels ever written.  As far as I know, it’s one of the first books to deal with time travel from a quantum-physics perspective and to explain how the idea of alternate timelines emerges as an interpretation of quantum superposition.  I didn’t have room to make too many changes to incorporate ideas from this book into DTI, but I didn’t really need to, since the physical principles it describes are kind of foundational to the theories I was using anyway, as derived from my other research.   Which, of course, is what happens when you rely on real physics rather than making stuff up.

Still, there were some references I was able to work in, one or two things that Timescape fans would recognize as nods, and I was able to clarify some discussion of temporal theory in one chapter by borrowing from the explanations in an early chapter of the book.  So now the novel has gained its rightful place among the works I’ve homaged in DTI:WTC.

It’s appropriate to reference Timescape for another reason, by the way.  Timescape was originally published by Pocket Books in early 1980, and as I recall, it was very successful.  So when editor David G. Hartwell established a dedicated science fiction imprint at Pocket in 1981, he named it Timescape Books after the Benford novel.   Timescape Books soon began publishing original Star Trek novels, edited by Hartwell, in addition to the original SF it published.  After a while, the Timescape line tightened its focus to deal with ST fiction exclusively, and the imprint became simply “Pocket Books Star Trek” with the Timescape name being dropped.  And that line of books has continued to this day and eventually employed me.  So in a sense, Benford’s Timescape is a forerunner of DTI:WTC in more ways than one.  It would’ve been a shame not to include it in the homages.  So I’m glad that serendipity gave me a chance to correct the oversight — and to catch up on a seminal hard-SF novel I should’ve appreciated more all along.

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  1. November 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    So that’s (some of) what Mr. Hartwell was up to before before settling in at Tor, then?

    Good to know!

    And as for the rest of this? Thank you kindly!

  2. Barrie Suddery
    November 18, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Cannot wait. Any ideas when it’ll be published?

    • November 18, 2010 at 8:23 am

      It’s scheduled for May 2011, which means it should show up in bookstores in late April.

  3. Charlie
    November 19, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Great cover! I hope the final cover is at least HALF that great!

  4. November 20, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    I agree with Charlie, i hope this the cover is as good as this preview !
    (^_^)/

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