In this episode, the podcast hosts find themselves in the Time Traveler’s Tiki Lounge, sharing stories about time loops, distortions, and paradoxes. Listen to the end for three questions you should ask yourself when you are building time travel into your world!
Here is the link to our Discord community, which Emma mentions, that you should join if you are participating in NaNoWriMo! For further research, Kyle recommends this video: Time Travel in Fiction Rundown. If you want to support this podcast, leave us a review or join our Patreon!
Welcome to the wayfarers guide to world building a podcast by mythos and ink publishing, where we build worlds one story at a time. I’m Kyle and Mr. Elephant. Today’s topic is time travel, and special thanks to our patrons Julie H and Ron s for making this episode possible. You can join our Patreon by heading to patreon.com/mythosandink to make podcasts like this, and help us move forward. Yay.
Several years ago, I picked up a game called Chrononauts. It’s a basic card game where each player adopts a personality of sorts and tries to manipulate the timeline for their own selfish purposes. Each of these characters had these small backstories and there’s one that always captivated me. His story was basically while manipulating the timeline, he accidentally erased himself from all temporal existence. And now he sits in a bar outside of time, called the Time Travelers’ Tiki lounge, sharing his wills with fellow travelers. That’s where we find ourselves today in our discussion, because I love this game. We are at the Time Travelers’ Tiki lounge
Hang on, you picked up this game or you were given it by a very beloved friend.
I don’t think you gave me this game.
I’m pretty sure I gave you this game!
I’ve had this game longer than I have known. You know, this is like the first board game like, like nerdy board game that I’ve ever owned.
And it sounds amazing. And I want to play it.
Well, Alli, you are first in our discussion about time travel,
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Ooooo the best one. The best one.
The best book, not the best movie, the best movie is number five. But…
WHAT?! Unpopular opinion. Nobody likes Order of the Phoenix the movie.
I have my reasons. And I’m happy to go into them, but not right now.
Only got a 20 minute podcast that would take all the time.
Reach out to me on Twitter, and we’ll talk about it. The Prisoner of Azkaban the book and the movie is pretty okay. And it has my favorites type of time travel, the kind where everything’s already happened. And you might think this is the boring kind. Because whatever you do in the future, you’ve already done it in the past. But JK Rowling does it in such a way that it is not boring. And the movie actually makes the rules of this time travel a little bit clearer than the book does. I think the movie does some more fun things with it. And I love it because of the clues and the strange events that you can scatter throughout your story, if they only make sense, after the time travel has happened. So in Harry Potter, you get Harry being hit by that rock in Hagrid’s cottage, and you kind of wonder about it as a viewer at the time. And then you forget about it because all the cool stuff is happening and hippogryph is being killed and all that. And
You know how it ends Emma!
It hurts every time. Justice for Buckbeak.
And then you have that howl that comes out later, that distracts the werewolf. But you don’t know where it comes from, etc, etc. So, I just love this because everything kind of comes full circle and you’re like, Oh, that’s that suddenly makes sense. And I forgot that happens. And that’s so neat. And that’s why I like it.
So when you are writing something like that, is that something that you plan ahead? Or once you’ve written the whole thing do you think Rowling went back and just sprinkled these things in here and there?
I have no idea how Rowling did it. But I imagine it would be easier to kind of write your story and then go back and sprinkle things in. I imagine maybe that is how the that’s kind of how the movie writers did it because they sprinkled stuff in that Rowling didn’t have in her boo. Like that thing where I can’t remember Harry hitting getting hit with a rock. I don’t think that happens in the book. And I know that Hermonie howling for sure it doesn’t happen in the book. So like they did like go in and add in there. So I think that is definitely an easier way you can go in and add little hints. Throw them in later.
Cursed Child aside, because we don’t consider that part of canon no matter what JK Rowling says. Time can really only comes up once in the series. Do you think that that’s sort of the most effective way of using this closed loop time travel? Or do you think there are ways that authors can use it in sort of a more long term drawn out way?
I like how Harry Potter does it because I think the more you use time travel, the more problems you’re going to have. There are always problems with time travel like, yeah, this problem was time travel. Why don’t they just go back in time and Rowling really made it easier on herself by destroying all the Time Turner’s in the ministry I think the book five and so then she didn’t have to worry about it. I forget how to make those things anymore, right. I don’t know. I think she chose the easy road and I don’t have a problem with it because Harry Potter isn’t a time traveling. You don’t mean Harry Potter because of the time traveling story, right? So I think the Prisoner of Azkaban is really good world building because even though the time travel has already happened, and we’re given some tidbits about it, like the rock like that gets thrown in Harry’s head, the scenes where they travel back in time are still full of tension. Because we don’t know what happens most of the events are taking place in different locations. And when they did the first time around, so even the part where her cast the Patronus, you know, he manages to cast it and save himself and does Sirious survive. We don’t know what we do now. But at the time, when I read it for the first time, I didn’t know and it was really exciting. And you just kept turning pages. And that’s really what you want. And that’s why it’s good.
My example of time travel comes from one of my favorite sci fi series. So this is the first one is in this series is called Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is probably the title you’re familiar with. But the time travel example I’m talking about comes from the second volume, which is called The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. So in this our heroes, who are a bunch of ragta g misfits as Zaphod, Trillian, Arthur and Ford Prefect are in a spaceship, which and they’re starving, so they asked their spaceship to take them to the nearest restaurant, and they end up at Milliways which is affectionately known as the restaurant at the end of the universe. Turns out, this was the nearest restaurant in space, but not time. So the restaurant was actually located at the exact spot where they were only 576,000 million years into the future, this restaurant is very cool, because it actually sits suspended in a time bubble. And every night you can enjoy a meal while watching the end of the universe. So the death of the universe all around you, which is actually quite beautiful. Now, this restaurant is incredibly expensive, incredibly exclusive, but it’s easy to get a reservation, because you can just make it when you get back to your own time after already having dined there. Same with payments, it’s incredibly expensive. But all you have to do is put a coin in your bank account in your own time. And by the time you’re at the restaurant, millions of years of the future, you will have accumulated enough interest to pay for your lavish meal.
So my question then is what would you personally want to eat at the restaurant at the end of the universe?
Oh, man, there is this pretty great scene where so they actually they they serve you steaks, but they actually get to cut the cow which are talking cows, they come out and talk to you beforehand, and they tell you how tender they are and which part of their body they want you to eat. So I’m kind of not answering your question, because as a vegetarian, I especially wouldn’t want to eat that. But I did want to talk about that example. So there you go. Thanks for letting me to do that.
Oh Douglas Adams.
Does the book take place in this restaurant, or do they kind of leave the bubble at some point?
Yeah, no, this is sort of just an interlude. So they’re actually trying to like escape from someone and then they go to the restaurant and then the leading the restaurant, which is this whole other ordeal because they steal the ship that’s doomed to fall into the sun. And they have to figure out how to turn it off. So it’s just it’s part of the book, the whole thing doesn’t take place there.
Do they go back there regularly? Or is this just like a one time thing in the book?
It’s a one time thing, which is crazy, because why wouldn’t you be there every night? super cool.
A meal, for 25 cents. What’s not to like?
I’m in. Right. Yeah. So I think that this is good world building because it pokes fun at all of those time travel and consistencies, which are unavoidable. And of course, this doesn’t work in every book, because not every book is as sarcastic and satirical as Douglas Adams books are, but I just love being able to play with that idea of time travel in that way.
Well, my example of time travel comes from one of my favorite book series, including so much so that I have named my son after it. So I’ve got like a feather in my cap on this one. This is Ender’s Game Well, at least the Ender’s Game universe, in particular, the Ender’s Game story. One of the things is that I like about this form of time travel is it is, at least thus far, the only one that is believed to be scientifically possible. And so that’s why I think this is a really good example of time travel. In Ender’s Game, you have this situation where you have all of these buggers, these aliens that have come and they’ve decimated humanity. But somehow one person, Mazer Rackham, he managed to figure out that these were less like just a bunch of aliens invading and more like a queen with a bunch of drones. And so he managed to kill off the queen, which rendered all of the drones inert and then they won. But as a result, humanity was concerned that there was going to be some sort of retaliation, another wave that would eventually wipe them out. So they wanted to raise generals, they selectively bred people to come up with great young generals that could lead this army that was going on. What was interesting was eventually they pick Ender, who is the lead general, he’s gone through his whole situation, everything that’s gone on, but what I love is he gets a trainer and his trainer. It’s like this guru sort of sage like person who the moment enter turns his back, he beats the living snot out of him, and he’s like, never turn your back on an enemy. It’s Mazer Rackham. What they did was they sent Mazer to be traveling at the speed of light. So his light travels at or sorry, his time travels at a different rate of everyone else. So the closer you get to the speed of light, time essentially slows down for you. So while you would be gone for maybe a year, for everybody else on Earth, that could be anywhere from 10 to 100 to 1000 years at that point, depending on how close you are to the speed of light. And so this time distortion is a way of time travel. And that’s how they suspended Mazer Rackham in time so that he could train the next general.
So this is actually possible. Hypothetically? We can’t test this out.
We have had some scientific evidence that that has shown that this is possible. For instance, there have been astronauts that have gone to space, they did a twin study, I can’t remember their names offhand. But these were identical twins, one went up into the International Space Station, one stayed down here on earth. And it appeared that genetically their bodies changed. And it is believed that they aged at different rates, whether they were on the space station, or here on Earth, which further compounds this mystery. That is time dilation. There’s a great movie that actually expands on this called Interstellar, which I would highly recommend. It’s a really fun movie to watch and a really fun one to wrap your head around.
Yeah, that’s true. That’s also that.
Yeah, as the twins names are Scott and Mark Kelly,
Ah, there we go.
Just Google magic there. Yeah,
no, you knew that Emma. We’re gonna edit that and be like, I knew who they were.
It’s almost like time travel.
Podcast editing is like time traveling, because we fixed our own mistakes. I love it.
In world, how does Ender feel about the time travel? Is it something that he wished that he had been chosen for? Or does he ever time travel? I haven’t read the books. I’m not entirely sure. But what’s his perspective on it?
As the series goes on, he actually uses he didn’t, nobody really knew that this existed, at least in the terms of Ender’s Game, the children were kind of shielded from this knowledge. And not many of them, I think there was one that figured it out, but Ender wasn’t really one of them. However, as the book series goes on, Ender actually does travel at the speed of light to essentially just get ahead of everything, because he knows he’s like the Savior of the world. And he’s considered to be this massive general, this massive human, but they also know there’s still civil war and politics and power struggles going on on earth. And if he were to go back to Earth, he would just be considered a general the army so that he could take over the world for a particular country. And he didn’t want any of that for himself. He actually saw himself more as a pacifist than he did as a war leader. And so he traveled his speed of light to get away from what was known in his time, and then he eventually enters back into time and he starts communicating with people again and enters into a world and it’s shocking people don’t realize that he is the Ender.
That’s one way to avoid pain.
Yes, yes. Yeah. It’s the it’s the ultimate introvert answer. I think this is good world building purely because it is scientifically possible. I think one of the things that I love about some science fiction books, when it comes to time travel is when they’ve really thought about the actual science behind it. And they don’t have to stretch the truth too much. But instead, you can tell that they’ve actually done their research so that this feels possible, because there’s always that gap where there’s science fiction that can feel like this is truly more fiction than science. But I like when it’s the other way where there’s a lot more science than there is to the fiction. That always inspires me. And I think that’s good world building, at least if you’re consistent in that.
My question to ask yourself, when you are planning time travel in your own novel, is, what does your character and your reader know about time travel? And what do they not? Perhaps what they don’t know, is something really interesting. And you can explore that later and have character figure it out as they go.
So my question is, why don’t your characters use time travel to solve all their problems? Or what are the limits around time travel? If I can time travel, I’d solve a whole bunch of problems. So what’s stopping you from doing that in your world?
They just destroyed all the time traveling devices,
Oh yah, except they come back in another series.
My question is who has free will, this is a great challenge for a lot of these temporal paradoxes that we will experience. So in Harry Potter, for instance, who has free will, it’s actually the the past self has free will. They’re the ones that are actually acting when the future selves go back in time to interact, they have to do certain things, there are actions that they just had to do. And they had no choice but to do them, because they had already happened. But you can also do it the other way, where your future self, the one who goes back, then you can start manipulating and changing the timeline like and Back to the Future. So who has free will, past self or future self? Well, we’ve got some work that were going on behind the scenes. And let’s go the same order, Allie, why don’t you go up? What are you working on this week?
This week I have been clearing out my query inbox.
No, I don’t know why. Please enlighten us.
I will Kyle. We are going to be accepting submissions in November. This episode where you’ll be able to query us as time travelers in the far future, check our submission guidelines.
So I am also looking to the future right now. I have been getting our discord all set up for NaNoWriMo. So when you guys are listening to this at NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month will be starting in two days. So it starts on November 1, every sorry, three days after 31 days. But NaNoWriMo will be starting November 1 and we have some awesome stuff planned on our discord for our writing community. So I’m getting that all set up. So if you are interested in writing a novel in only 30 days, I highly suggest you check out our discord and join our Reddit community and
We’re all doing it and we’re claiming our goal. And it’s going to be a good time.
There surprise prizes. There’s word counts. There’ll be some laughter some tears.
Many tears. As for what I’m doing, even though we’re doing office virtually, I think it’s important that we remember the fourth member of our team because it is in fact his birthday. Office dog Jane has officially turned three years old.
Oh, I’m being I’m being yelled at by my wife. It is four.
I still remember when he was a little puppy on my lap.
I know when he could fit on laps.
A giant bernese Mountain dog. Oh no. No longer lap size.
Yeah, so he turned four and we got them a giant hambone from the butcher that we had a freezer forum. Wolf that down. So yes, happy birthday to Office doggo Jayne. Until next time, fellow wayfarers go build worlds. Bye!