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Time alone

by shellgrip 

Posted: 17 November 2004
Word Count: 2851
Summary: A young inventor struggles with 'inventors block'.


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I stood alone in the dead spot on the cliff top and listened to the sea. There were three hours and fifty-two minutes until I would walk into the Riverside Café in West Bay, sit down and order the sea bass. I didn’t feel particularly hungry but I would finish the meal and compliment the staff.

I wondered briefly where my Guard would pick me up. No doubt at this very moment they would be scouring the country in a four hour radius of the Riverside, checking pubs, woods, fields. They would not find me, and they knew this, but they had to try.

On the beach below a couple walked their dog and I felt the usual stab of intense envy. They may have no idea what they would do for the rest of the day, where or what they would eat, whether they would enjoy the meal or find the steak overcooked and the vegetables limp.

I recalled an old joke that the British Royal family believed the entire world smelled of fresh paint. I believed the entire world consisted of perfectly cooked meals, faultless hotels and attentive shop assistants.

In two months time, just shy of my thirty-fifth birthday, I would change the world forever. From my small laboratory on the grounds of the Rutherford-Appleton labs near Oxford I would produce a safe, functional time machine and there was only one small problem: I had no idea how.

Upon my inevitable success the project would instantly be absorbed by the Government and in a fury of typical paranoia it would be decided that every effort must be made to avoid any Grandfather paradox events. Under no circumstances must there be anything that prevented my invention; no accidents, no illnesses, no assassinations. From the moment of my birth I would be assigned a Guard of elite men and women that would follow my every move, check and secure everywhere I went, ensuring that in thirty-five years I would tighten the final theoretical nut and make a discreet phone call to my boss. Despite all the arguments that by its very nature, a Grandfather paradox situation would still in all likelihood end in the invention of the machine, I could not escape the Guard. Except in dead spots.

Throughout my documented life there are a regrettably few points where there is no record of my movements. They vary in time from minutes to several hours and all attempts to penetrate them have failed. As I watched gulls wheel and dive over my head I enjoyed the remaining three hours and – forty three – minutes of one of the longest and the last dead spot before my invention.

The dead spots infuriated the Guard. After all, they had a time machine and full authority to use reverse travel whenever necessary where it concerned my whereabouts (or whenabouts as some tiresomely insist on saying). If my tail car would get a puncture, on that day there would be two. If I snuck out of a hotel bathroom window and shinned down the drainpipe, at the bottom would be a figure in the shadows (and probably a pile of soft cardboard boxes, just in case). Yet on occasions fate would give me a break, the plans would go awry and I would be free.

I wasn’t supposed to know my life of course. No-one but the senior members of the Department of Temporal Affairs were supposed to know the whole story but there were leaks, then floods of spilled information. It wasn’t hard to search the Net and find a minute-by-minute account of when and where I would be. I have met many people who have asserted that my documented future is no different from a solid belief in Fate. Easy to say when you don’t know you’re going to break your leg painfully the following Thursday at half past six. There are advantages: I can recall the anticipation of a midnight skinny dip with two young Swedish au-pairs – offset only mildly by the following paragraph that revealed they were more interested in each other than in me. I knew when and where I would meet interesting people, have fun evenings, kiss beautiful girls, but it was always unreal. I had no doubt that the Guard had ensured events would go as planned and that does kind of take the spontaneity out of situations.

Only in the dead spots was I really free. I could if I felt so inclined, throw myself from this cliff and plunge to a rocky death. If I met a young woman up here and was able to conduct an entire relationship in the scant space of three hours then I could and no one would ever know. However, the woman in question would never tell anyone about me and never mention meeting me, one of the most famous inventors in history, so the encounter would have to be very brief and entirely unmemorable.

The problem was the dead spots were also the only place I could fulfil my future.

I had (have?) done everything according to plan, I went to the schools I should have gone (did go?) to, got the grades I should have got, went to the university of my choice, such as it was, and did the PhD studies in accordance with the plan. I still have no idea how to make a time machine.

I know how it works of course. Everyone with any science background does – the plans are available in various wonderful forms all over the Net and the machines exist to be looked at, prodded and taken apart but that’s not good enough. I need to invent the time machine and I have no idea how to do it.

It’d be easier with something like the light bulb. If I knew I was going to invent the bulb it wouldn’t be too hard to make up some stories of me fiddling with a circuit, seeing it blow out and the wire glowing brightly for a fraction of a second. I could then realistically say that it occurred to me that if I could make that glow last I could use it as a light source. So far so good. Then following months, maybe years of experiments involving weirdly blown glass, a selection of odd filament materials and various vacuum pumps I’d get something workable. But this wasn’t a light bulb, it was a machine capable of travelling through time and I needed to present a clear path to my invention.

I have studied the workings of the machine all of my adult life and can hold my own in weird cocktail parties where everyone struggles with grammatical tenses. I could probably build one blindfold, except that I’d drop a lot of the bits. It doesn’t matter; in three months time I still need to be able to present a complete history of my invention. A history that can be followed by schoolchildren and scholars. Experiments that can be recreated and modified, a believable path to the invention. No matter how I try I simply cannot create enough work and experiment to stand up to the scrutiny of the ages. I can’t claim to have been chatting Quantum theory in the pub with a mate, sketching the plans on the back of a fag packet after the third pint of Stella. Hundreds, thousands of people would recreate my experiments, following the path I took in the same way that children perform simple physics and chemistry experiments. Unless my research held water I’d be exposed as a fraud within months.

This wasn’t the first time I’d had these thoughts. I just didn’t like the logical conclusion to which they would lead.

I had stolen the time machine.

There was only one possible solution. I was, undoubtedly, recorded in future history as the inventor of the time machine. Everything else about my life was correct and I have seen a million photographs and a thousand hours of video footage with me smiling next to the machine, presidents and actors. I was, undoubtedly, completely unprepared to create this device and had a deep conviction that the remaining three months wasn’t really enough time to pull my socks up and get down to it.

The time machine wasn’t my invention.

Someone else had done all the research, put all the time into the experiments, spent the long hours gazing into space and at some point I had simply taken that work and claimed it as my own. Since my entire life, every meeting, every conference, every phone call or video message is mapped from birth to the creation of the machine this must happen in a dead spot. And this is the last one. It must happen here, on this cliff top.

I scanned around for likely looking geniuses and saw only the couple on the beach whose dog seemed intent on digging sand for Britain and throwing it out onto their legs.

Two hours fifty seven minutes. Minus at least forty minutes to walk from here to the Riverside, meet someone, maybe fifteen minutes to say “Hello. My, are they time machine plans under your arm? Let’s have a look!” and we were down to two hours or so. Then I’d have to factor in disposing of the body.

I had considered any number of scenarios that might explain the inventor of such an earth-shattering discovery willingly handing over the research – and the discovery itself – to an unknown. None of them were in the least bit probable. The most likely case was that I would meet the person in question, kill them and dispose of the body. If this were true I would be fortunate enough that the body was never found and the crime never discovered. Such would be the fickles of fate.

It occurred to me then that the cliffs above the bay were treacherous and the fall deadly. Perhaps it was an accident, witnessed by the horrified sand covered couple and their dog.

No. There would be research in his labs, friends and colleagues that knew what he was working on.

But would there be such things?

I was the uncontested champion of temporal movement, there had been – would never be – any claims of theft or plagiarism. If the real creator died in a tragic accident, the fates might equally conspire such that his research and death were not investigated.

I shuddered. Was this how murderers planned and justified their actions? If this latest script was the correct plan for events in the next two hours was it fate or planning on my part? If a latter day Einstein took a stroll along the cliff top and I nudged him in the right direction was that fate or premeditation?

You can imagine how many such lines of thought I had suffered in the past few years.

The wind whipped up off the beach and I shivered. Whatever was going to happen would have to happen soon and I decided it was too cold for it to happen here. Turning away from the view out to sea I began to pick my way down to the beach itself; I could see that the car park contained several cars, perhaps one of them held the answer.

My mental image of a contemplative stroll along the shore was destroyed as soon as I reached the beach, turned graceless by the sand. I began to slog towards the line of surf, hoping the wet sand would be kinder to me, albeit spotted with holes dug by the frantic dog. As I came further along the beach I noticed an old man sitting among the rocks by the base of the cliff, his face hidden by a thick scarf, the hood of his waterproof raised against the wind and the spray it carried. As I looked towards him, he raised a flask in my direction, motioning with the cup-lid that I should join him. I stopped for a moment, my stomach sinking and knotting simultaneously, then I danced clear of a wave and began to make my way up the beach towards him.

We sat without speaking for a minute or two and I sipped at the coffee from a spare plastic cup he had offered. I knew that this was the moment but was reluctant to continue whatever process this meeting had started. I had begun today with a sense of anticipation and dread but had no desire to end it in guilt.

‘Did you come to meet me then?’ I said, not knowing what else to say.

‘Of course. You were expecting me, I believe.’ He pulled the scarf away from his face and fussily tucked it into the top of the jacket.

‘I was expecting somebody. I didn’t really think it would be me.’ It was impossible to judge how old this later version of myself was. His hair was mostly hidden but I was already grey in spots myself and while his face was softer and clearly more experienced, there was a timelessness about it. I chuckled, thinking of how ironic this observation would seem.

‘You’re thinking about how my face looks ‘timeless’. You have no idea how many times I’ve examined the mirror looking for signs of timelessness.’

‘I don’t know what to say,’ I said, truthfully. ‘You must be here to… help with this situation but I can’t think what that help might be and…’ I paused for a moment, seeing the figures of the couple and the dog reappear in the distance, ‘I’m a little scared by it.’

‘I’m here to help in the only way I can. By giving you what we need.’

‘The machine? How?’

The man dug in the pocket of his jacket and produced a small brown envelope, passing it to me. I could feel something heavy slide into one corner.

‘In there you’ll find a map, some directions and a set of keys. Tuck it away for now and examine them tonight. In a week or so there is another short dead spot that’ll leave you in a convenient position. Use that time to get there, you’ll be picked up again when you leave and that’ll establish the earliest provenance.’

‘Provenance for what?’

‘For your other lab of course. The one where you conducted all the real research in secret.’

I watched the couple and their dog moving slowly towards us along the shore. I – we – would have to be gone before they came close enough to remember the two men on the beach and time was running out.

‘And I take it that I’ll find everything I need there.’

‘Of course. Prototypes, experimental rigs, notes, files, even some video footage of early tests. It’s really a very impressive piece of work. I understand we employed some of the finest set dressers in the UK film industry, thinking they were working on a biopic.’

‘But…’ I hesitated, not wishing to seem temporarly unaware to my older self, ‘there are no records of this other lab in my future histories. Surely it would be a major part of the discovery.’

The man smiled, emptying his cup onto the rocks and screwing the cap onto the flask. ‘You’re thinking a little too literally – and linearly – for a man in your position. I think you’ll find that everything has a way of sorting itself out.’ He struggled briefly to push the flask down into the rucksack at his feet then straightened and eased himself to his feet. ‘Once you’re seen leaving the premises there will be frantic investigations by the Guard. They will discover your carefully hidden identity, records of the lease you took on the premises some years ago, tax records filed in the name of fictitious companies and a wealth of other secrets they’ll be quite pleased to unravel. There are enquiries within the Guard of course. I believe a couple of senior investigators get rapped on the knuckles.’

I frowned. This did not fit with my understanding of my life, predetermined and set. ‘But if this wasn’t part of my recorded history then does that mean other things could change?’

The man heaved the rucksack onto one shoulder and walked several paces towards the car park. ‘All things change, and that includes the future.’ He said, as he continued walking away.

I jumped down from the rocks, glancing over my shoulder at the couple who were now only a few hundred yards away. ‘But where does it come from? If you give me the plans and you are me…?’ I trailed off as he stopped and turned towards me.

‘I asked the same question myself when I met the old man on the beach, and this is the answer he gave me.’ He turned away again, pulling the scarf from his jacket and wrapping it around his face.

After a few moments, I followed his footmarks slowly up the sand, tucking the envelope into my pocket, thinking of sea bass, or possibly plaice.






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Comments by other Members



Dee at 17:05 on 17 November 2004
Jon, I absolutely loved this. A fantastic plot and faultlessly written. I’d like to know what kind of writing you do and how long you’ve been at it – but you’ve hidden your profile.

So many good lines but I particularly liked:

whenabouts

And

it’s easier to let your memories fit the memoirs, as long as you can still spell the difference.”

Welcome to WW. I hope you stick around.

Dee


shellgrip at 18:16 on 17 November 2004
Many thanks for the kind comments Dee. See, helping people with IT queries is a useful hobby. :-)

I will create a profile but am waiting to become a full member. A shrunken version would be that I've been doing it for 20 years or so but in such a scattered way that it's never come to anything. Joining this group is part of a concerted effort to change that.

Annoyingly, I've noticed two or three errors in the posted story but can't edit as a trial member :-(

Jon

scoops at 15:54 on 18 November 2004
What a terrific story, shellgrip. I particularly liked the section before the dialogue, it was utterly compelling. A couple of thoughts. It felt odd for me when you slipped into populist phraseology - chatting up/quick shag/fag packet, because this doesn't fit in with the quite serious/literary tone of the piece. I also felt the story lost its pace when the narrator meets himself: the resolution happens too quickly, and you have gone for an easy opt out by sidestepping the need for an explanation of how the time machine got built. I think you should go back and think this through very carefully. If you do that, what you have here is an excellent premise for a much longer piece, even a novel (with a film option tie-in, most probably):-) Shyama

trapezoiddave at 16:35 on 18 November 2004
Jon

This is an astonishingly interesting concept. It worked well as an inner monologue, and the idea of being outside observation, in a 'dead' spot, is one that I think a whole range of readers will empathise with. Also, it is simply very good writing, and easy to get into - good scene-setting without reams of exposition, and a swift and effective summarisation of what a life with no surprises would be like. I think this works well as the short story it is, but I have to agree with Shyma when I say that this concept deserves further exploration. I can heartily recommend the full membership by the way, about the price of a night out, and you get squillions of useful tools, a place to put all your details, online cv etc etc.

Hope to see more of your stuff soon.

Dave

shellgrip at 16:39 on 18 November 2004
Thanks Shyama. Your comments on the resolution match exactly my own thoughts (I considered commenting on it myself but thought that was a bit silly). I recall thinking that the ending should be a quick 'twist' but in retrospect it does clash with the rest of the story. I'll work on it.

The quick shag doesn't really grate with me but I suspect this is because I'm reading it with greater knowledge of the character than I'm revealing in the story. In my head he's the sort of person that would drop odd/funny comments into an otherwise serious situation (as I frequently do). If that's not coming across in the story I'll look into either revealing more about his character or changing the dialogue.

Do you really think this could be expanded to a novel? I had never considered that and off the top of my head now struggle to see how it could be achieved. It might be interesting to think about how you'd live knowing every step you were going to make...

Many thanks for the constructive comments - watch this space!

Jon

<Added>

Sorry Dave, cross posted. My thanks to you as well. Looks like further investigation of the concept is definitely in order...

Jon

scoops at 17:36 on 18 November 2004
Jon, If you can think beyond the moment on this story, it is well worth developing. There are many current strands in it, yet you've fashioned a narrative that's entirely your own. The hard bit is knowing where to start. As an exercise, why don't you stop before the dialogue, as he's musing about pushing people over the cliff, put in a break (just do a line of asterisks) and take us to the back story. You've already mentioned his childhood. Take us to an incident, maybe the one where he learned his fate, and build it up from there. Was he excited at that point, by his future. Did he believe/understand it, etc etc. It's only an exercise and when you've decided why the scene and method don't work, it might give you thoughts on how they could. Good luck!! Shyama

shellgrip at 09:29 on 19 November 2004
Many thanks for the advice Shyma, I'll certainly give that a go. One thing I had considered was *when* he discovers his destiny. In the short I get the impression he's known about it for most of his life but it occurred to me this could be a fairly recent discovery.

Jon

me at 02:15 on 21 November 2004
Shellgrip

A fantastically diverse view of a self perpetuating scenario. Wonderful characterisation and a great insight into the obvious self doubt that must come from following a predetermined path to an apparently incomprehensible goal.

A great piece well worthy, as aforementioned by others, of expansion.

I disagree with the previous comment that the 'populist phraseology' is out of place. I feel it adds to the naive base nature of the character, despite his being destined for greatness. Reminiscent of an ordinary Joe which I feel reinforces his disbelief at being able to achieve his goal.

I similarly feel that the lack of explanation regards his alter selfs appearance is totally appropriate and that conversely to offer same would bog down the plot in a sideline which could be incorporated within an expanded version elsewhere.

Regards

Me

shellgrip at 15:57 on 23 November 2004
I've now amended the story, following the guidelines and advice posted.

In addition to altering the frivolous nature of the original final dialogue, I've also altered the nature of the help given by the man. I felt that a single rucksack wasn't realistic in terms of the nature of the invention and this alternative fits more closely with the synopsis of the novel!

What is currently (23/2) posted is pretty much a first draft of major changes and needs a thorough read through but as always I'd appreciate any and all comments.

J

Dee at 16:41 on 23 November 2004
Jon, I’ve given this another thorough read through. I thought it was good before – but it’s much better now…

Dee
x


scoops at 11:28 on 24 November 2004
Jon, it's fantastic that you've started to expand this concept. I do think it has tremendous potential. I'm not sure if this new turn has quite the immediacy of the previous version, though it's far better thought through in terms of finding a back story. Although your previous resolution was too rapid and convenient, the possibility that the narrator might push himself over the cliff gave it a tension that this current version doesn't possess, and I think tension is very important at this juncture. I suspect that will come as you keep reworking the exchange, but be wary of turning what is a superb what-if scenario into a scientific whodunnit by sending your hero on a paper/equipment trail to the machine. Although the plot is thrilling, it isn't a thriller, and my own feeling is that it should not become one by accident. What are your thoughts on that? Apart from anything else, it is affecting the tightness and pace of your writing.

Separately, and I should have noted this first time around, I think you need to make the difference between past and present clearer. If my car "got", rather than "gets"/"sneaked out" rather than "sneak out"/I "had been assigned" rather than "I was assigned" and so on. I think you mean 'fickleness' and not 'fickles', and if you keep in the old man on the beach scenario, I think as a reader, I'd like a split second where the narrator takes in what he's seeing.

Most importantly, Jon, you have started treating this story as a novel, and that is fantastic. Once you've sorted out how the machine will reveal itself, I think a sense of who our narrator is, and the life he has lived is really important to both the reader and the writer (!!). This episode works brilliantly on its own, but it would be just as good in the bowels of a pacy novel. Shyama

shellgrip at 16:34 on 24 November 2004
Many thanks again for the great advice Shyama. I wholeheartedly agree that this is now in literary no mans land :) The decision I'll have to make is which way to crawl. On the one hand, with more work the short version could be quite good - but all I've read on this site suggests short story publication is not very popular. On the other hand, using this short as the seed for a novel is almost certainly going to dilute it. I have all previous versions saved so I'm burning no bridges - it's more a question of how I spend my time.

Yep, I'll look at the tense issue. It might be resolved by saying 'my car gets a puncture <i>next Tuesday</I>', etc. I'll have a play. Of course, the whole issue of tense in time travel stories is a nightmare and I don't feel like inventing new tenses c.f. Douglas Adams.

Having said earlier in this thread that I couldn't see how to make a novel out of the story, it actually fell together quite easily (I'm not being smug, honest!). There's still some questions unresolved but I hope to have some kind of rough synopsis done in the next couple of days. I don't want to bury the short but I don't want to spend time and effort on it if it's not helping towards the novel.

Keep the advice coming! :)

Jon

Heckyspice at 13:51 on 25 November 2004
Hi Jon,

I have just found this. Pure gold. No doubt about it. The premise here is fanatastic and well thought out. The musings of the hero on his life build up the dilemma he is facing. There is solid core here that could develop into a novel should you choose it. I think the last decent time travel novel was Timescape by Gregory Benford and that was 1981 or thereabouts, so its about time (no pun intended) there was new contender.

Time travel stories are awkward at best but you have managed to find a new angle which is unique. You have the scope to develop the paranoia of being watched by THEM as well as the mystery of the device being built or discovered, the search for dead spots (great idea btw) and more besides.

I don't think I can add more to the the crit other than what has already been said.

Good Stuff.

Best Wishes,

David

Joel at 19:11 on 25 November 2004
Hi Shellgrip,

I've come to this a bit late and I don't like to read other people comments before making my own, ( so as not to be influenced by everyone else) so forgive me if I'm repeating what has already been said.

I thought this was really well written. The first person narrative worked well and you managed to convincingly set the scene and build the tension as the story progressed. I thought it moved along at a good pace and didn't feel like nearly three thousand words. I was taken completely by surprise by the old man being a future version of the narrator and I thought the dialogue between the two was well handled.

My main criticism would be that I found it a bit difficult to get my head around all the different paradoxes. It may be just that I'm being clueless, but I've always found time travel stories a bit complex. There are so many things that you have to consider, consequences of consequences of consequences, that it ends up spinning me out. What for example is the Grandfather Paradox? I also found it difficult to get my head around the old and the young narrator being able to meet? If that were possible would that not mean that there would be a different self for every second of every day?

Phew, even contemplating that is freaking me out! I suppose that is a criticism of time travel stories in general rather than just yours. Maybe I have just been blinded by the science. Anyway that is enough of my babbling. I hope it has been of some use.

Thanks for putting this up to be read. Good luck with it.

Cheers,

Joel

trapezoiddave at 19:48 on 30 November 2004
Hi Jon

Just skimmed this again, liked it even more. I disagree about the removal of the slightly irreverent tone in places, I thought it gave a real feeling of an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. What might be interesting, and perhaps a focus for 'the novel'(say it quietly) is the idea of other people - people who are part of the record of the character's life. If he is able to look up every minute of his life online, couldn't they too? What if one of them decided to try and kill him? Or just not turn up for their alloted slot? I think there is an interesting side-issue in all of this about the largely unrecorded nature of human experience, and how every person's perception of events is different. Overall though it reads really well. Great stuff! Good luck!

Dave



J1mbo at 01:12 on 04 December 2004
I read this in about one minute (slight exaggeration), and I'm a v e r y s l o w r e a d e r. I have to say, time travel is one of those things that is very hard to make original. I love the narrators cynical submission to his fate, and the fact you made the appearance of the older him suprising to me as a reader, even though the narrator had already told me that this was what to expect. I especially like the fact that it is plausible, (although I am tired) that there are no holes when they are usually easy to find in such a paradoxical concept (Such as the face that a hundred terminators could be sent back to kill sarah conners when she is a child, (is her name sarah?)). I loved the 'dead spots', and I actually like the resolution, which seems to leave the narrator in an even more confused state, but gives him a little more hope (always a great thing) in the freedom of his choices (choice/fate paradox deftly dealt with). Smart and engaging writing. I also really like it as a short story, with my mind building the rest.

shellgrip at 19:34 on 06 December 2004
Thanks guys for the comments - I'll treat them one at a time!

Joel, time travel stories *are* always tricky. I'm a huge fan of the concept and have read everything I can get my hands on since I was a kid so I'm used to finding my way through the maze of paradoxes. The Grandfather Paradox is an expression of the major problem related to time travel. If I go back in time and kill my Grandfather, then my father could not have been born, and therefore I could not have been born. But if I wasn't born then I couldn't kill my grandfather, etc. I don't know why it's the Grandfather paradox, it works just as well in other variations I've heard. The usual way to avoid it is to ignore it but I didn't want to do this as I have a lot more respect for works that attempt to address the issue. Unfortunately, few do - as J1mbo mentions, the Terminator films are a classic example. One of the best 'solutions' I've ever read is to restrict the practical time available to use the machine at it's 'future end' if you see what I mean. If you're interested I'll WW mail you the title & author - I can't do it in public since it effectively ruins the twist in the plot!

Dave, thanks again for the comments. The issues around 'everyone' knowing his movements are a trouble to me :) However, it's not really any different from knowing where David Beckham or the Queen is going to be at any time. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to find this information out and wherever a 'celebrity' goes there *are* always hoardes of people yet very few of them do anything terribly strange. However, from a practical point of view for the novel I'm currently planning to make his life history accessible only to the Guard - especially as the hero himself needs to be in the dark as much as possible.

J1mbo, thanks for the comments. Yes, her name is Sarah Connor, and if you get me started on that we'll be here all night! Soooo, you've got the power and the technology to travel through time, but you need to use a phone book to look someone up. Riiiiight.
However, glaring plot holes don't stop it being a fun film and with time travel plot holes are hard to avoid - especially since any reasonable explanation of such technology runs the risk of losing the audience. In my opinion this is similar to faster than light travel. Descriptions of FTL drives in SF are necessarily vague not only because the technology doesn't exist but because it's actually irrelevant to the story. Whenever I'm tempted to describe an FTL drive I always remember what a friend told me once as I agonised over this in the pub.

Me: "I'm having real trouble explaining how this FTL drive might work."
Him: "Why? Do you describe how an internal combustion engine works every time a character drives to the shops?"

Jon

Nelly at 20:41 on 21 February 2005
Hi Shellgrip,

Just got around to reading this. Nothing more to add to what others have already said other than this is a fantastic piece of writing, having all the qualities of a smooth science fiction short.

It reminds me of some old 2000ad comics containing a nice twist that I’ve come to expect in time travel stories.

Cheers

Neil.




shellgrip at 12:52 on 22 February 2005
Many thanks for the kind comments Neil. Let's hope a nice magazine thinks the same thing!

J

paul53 [for I am he] at 15:56 on 28 February 2005
Drawn in by mention of the Riverside Cafe at West Bay - a mile or so east of me, unless you're using a made-up one.
My comments concur with all those above. Well done.

shellgrip at 12:36 on 01 March 2005
Thanks for the comment Paul, actually it's a little from Column A, a little from Column B. I know West Bay quite well (it's my dog that loves to dig on the beach) but I haven't been to the Riverside Cafe. It was reviewed somewhere as being an excellent restaurant and it stuck in my mind.

J

scarborough at 01:23 on 29 May 2005
well, I'm not going to say much that other people haven't said some months ago, but i think that's a really good story! I really liked the short tenses, and you've managed to make a time-paradox story that's fresh; normally, they just reek of cliche!

I also think that if i'm going to upload stuff to this writers' group, I'd best sharpen my work up a bit!

As regards expanding the story, (though you may well have decided whether or not to do it by now!), I have to say that I'm a real fan of the well-crafted short story; sometimes, a great idea needs to be said quickly, like a great three-minute song, and shouldn't be drawn out. There's a lot of books out there that take one great idea and spin it out for that little bit too long. I'd say this story is pretty well-formed as it is...


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