On Time Travel

The following was taken from an e-mail with my good and esteemed friend Aaron. Apologies bro, but I got carried away with this and thought it would be most efficient to combine my blogging and e-mailing efforts.

Disclaimer: This post is about Stephen King’s books. He’s generally considered low-brow and pulpy (and he often embraces that), so I’m fully expecting a lot of booksnobs to sneer. I’m just going to sit back, imagine Mr. King sitting on a great big pile of money, grinning that adorable bunny-rabbit grin of his, and feel warm and fuzzy as I talk about his books, which I enjoy so screw you very much whose blog is this anyway.

King

Add money to taste.

The problem with a lot of books that try to explain time travel in more science-solid terms is that you end up with quantum and other multiverse-based time travel theories, they’re all science and stuff but ultimately disappointing because of the consequences. You can’t “go back in time” and “change the future” – you can only ever “go to some alternative universe where it is earlier” and “create a new probability branch”. The Time Ships, and Timeline, are classic examples of this. Somehow disheartening because plot points weren’t resolved and characters weren’t changed – just whole new ones were created and played out, while the originals languished in some conveniently-forgotten leg of the Trousers of Time[1].

[1] Now, Pratchett’s Johnny and the Bomb, that was pretty much the same sort of thing and yet it managed to be quite satisfying. Not sure how that worked.

Well, anyway. In King’s 11/22/63, the question of time travel was dealt with in an entirely different way. I won’t go into too much detail but the idea was that there was a rift, the protagonist (or indeed anyone) could step through from 2011 and end up in 1958. You could spend as much time back there as you wanted, starting in 1958, then come back through (or not). Two minutes would have passed in 2011, regardless of how much time you’d spent in 1958 onwards, and depending on what changes you’d made 2011 would be altered accordingly. If, however, you went back through the rift, you would go back to the original 1958 instant and everything would reset to the “original”, undoing whatever changes you had previously made.

There was more detail, to do with bringing things back with you, but I think the general idea was that sure, you might be creating new alternative futures, but that 1958 would always connect up to this 2011, so you could move back and forth between them and actually experience consequences of changing history. Going back again would reset, begin a new alternate 2011, and regardless of whether the others you created were still going on out there somewhere, the one you step back into will be the one you just created.

Everybody got that?

Yeah.

The reset was a really nice idea, it basically commits the time traveller to a single strand but if he or she goes back on it, it returns things to the way they were before he or she interfered.

It also dealt with one of the biggest problems with time travel in a way I don’t think I have ever seen before (outside of a Cracked article about the biggest problems with time travel): that the time traveller will get dramatically older, from the perspective of the present, as he or she “wastes” his or her life elsewhere in time.

What really did my head, though, in was trying to link this – in terms of in-King-universe-rules – with The Langoliers (which had a lot of problems of its own but is still a favourite of mine). And I think it can work.

The easiest solution, of course, is “different levels of the Black Tower deal with the transition from past to present to future in different ways”, but that’s lazy! No, the Langoliers devour the universe of the “past”, presumably on an infinite scale with every infinitesimally-small passing instant. Beyond a time-lapse of more than a few hours, you can’t go back into the past because it’s been eaten. I think one of the characters in The Langoliers even says “you can’t go back in time and stop the Kennedy assassination,” or something of the sort. Which was a nice bit of full-circle.

But, the time-hole of 11/22/63 is different. When you go through it, it doesn’t so much take you into the (devoured) past, as makes 1958 the present for the traveller. I think the 1958 the time-hole connects to might be a single bubble of present-time, an infinitely-thin slice of instant that the Langoliers – for whatever reason – didn’t eat. So you can connect to it, and once you’re there the present progresses into the future as before, with the time traveller riding along.

Once there, normal moving-target present-time reasserts itself and the Langoliers go to work once more behind the curtain, skipping the 1958-entrance-moment but otherwise crunching and munching away at history as present becomes past. You make your changes, do whatever, live out your life. Or go back into the time-hole and out into 2011 to find two minutes have passed and the 1958-and-later present you left behind has extrapolated into a new 2011 for you.

But then! Go back through the hole, and it takes you back to that same preserved, un-devoured bubble / slice of 1958 present. Because that never changes. It can’t. And when you go back there and resume the moving-present cycle, of course it resets your 2011, extrapolating from the preserved 1958 moment.

This works better with mescaline.

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76 Responses to On Time Travel

  1. JonathanBloom says:

    I’m still in the middle of reading 11/26/63 and really enjoying it, so I’m going to very carefully avoid all spoilers here (if there are any).

    But I did want to point out that all this reminds me of both 12 Monkeys and Looper, both my favorite time travel movies of all time (ha ha). The concept of the consistent timeline is pretty similar to the one in 12 Monkeys. People can go back in time and bring back things, but things that have happened can’t be changed in a way that would perminently change the future.

    Looper, on the other hand, well, let’s just say that we’ll be here all day, making diagrams with straws: http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/underwire/2012/10/looper_wiredopinion-660×319.jpg

    • stchucky says:

      Well, as you may gather from this, my own memory of the plot is so spotty that I probably couldn’t spoil it if I wanted to. You may want to watch out for any further answers, for example from Aaron, because he’ll have details and it’ll get spoilery from here on in.

      Yeah, those were also good examples, 12 Monkeys of a kind of determinist universe where prophecy fulfills itself, and Looper of an oh God my head, make it stop.

      • JonathanBloom says:

        Speaking of “oh God, my head, make it stop,” this whole talk of time travel made me think about that contained thriller again. Which made for the beginnings of a blog and my upcoming lunch hour certainly more interesting.

    • dreameling says:

      12 Monkeys is one of those the-past-has-always-already-happened time travel stories that I really love. When all the pieces click together like clockwork, it’s just brilliant.

      Looper is a neat time travel movie and also just a really good movie. Sure, the future changes and you run into the usual cause-and-effect disconnect, but when watching the story unfold it all somehow felt logical and coherent. Good writing and thoughtful sci-fi. Can’t have too much of those.

      • stchucky says:

        InB4 Aaron:

        (this video, incidentally, massively missed the point and I think it’s a bit stupid, I disagree with most of it but the “removed need to go back in time” paradox is there, I think)

      • stchucky says:

        And yeah, Looper is one of those ones that I feel I should have more of a problem with, because it specifically denies me my “time traveller cancels out the reason for himself to time travel and yet unaccountably still time travels” suspension of disbelief by stating / showing outright that the time traveller is not immune to the changed cause-and-effect, and changes along with it in almost-real-time. So you’d expect him to sort of lose his shit and eventually just cease to exist as he changed stuff in the past.

        Which was sort of what happened, and sort of explains why they had the “shoot on sight” rule, but doesn’t explain Jeff Daniels and oh God my head, make it stop.

      • JonathanBloom says:

        I’m a massive Looper fan. As well as being a total giddy little fanboy of Rian Johnson, the writer/director behind it. His two other films; Brick (a smart, totally brilliant subversion of a noir film) and Brothers Bloom (one of the best romantic/caper/crime/thriller/comedies ever made) are just unsung classics in my books. Man is so talented it makes me sick.

      • stchucky says:

        Damn it I haven’t seen either of those. We must talk.

      • JonathanBloom says:

        I think that I have Brick on DVD somewhere, which I would be more than happy to bring for you to watch next time we meet. Brothers Bloom is sadly just on blu-ray.

      • dreameling says:

        InB4 Aaron

        Love it! Can’t really disagree with the time travel logic nitpicks in the video…

        Looper is one of those ones that I feel I should have more of a problem with

        …and yet somehow the movie was so good that I sort of didn’t care while watching it.

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah, I thought that a lot of the nitpicks were missing the point and getting stuff wrong, but from the point of view of a quantumist like yourself maybe more of them make sense.

        *classy raspberry*

      • dreameling says:

        Yeah, I thought that a lot of the nitpicks were missing the point and getting stuff wrong, but from the point of view of a quantumist like yourself maybe more of them make sense.

        Well, to be fair, I don’t remember all the plot and time travel details, so I should probably rewatch the movie and then get back to you with my actual verified nitpicks.

  2. stchucky says:

    There’s a couple of other things I was trying to work out:

    1) The movement of the two ends of the time-hole: Obviously, in 2011, time progressed normally for the protagonist and any other time traveller, while they were on this side. Some days went by (while the original time traveller aged fast) and the time-hole remained accessible, so obviously it’s not locked. And likewise (I can’t remember exactly), when you’re in 1958 the time-hole remains with you, moving along with the (new) present. Meanwhile the “2011” end[1] is locked in a slightly different way, so that when you go back through it turns out only two minutes have passed. It seems to be connected directly to the traveller in some quantum-y way or other.

    [1] I say “2011” as a placeholder because it seems to me that it’s only called that because that was when the plot happened. Now, if the hole existed, it would be “the 2014 end”.

    So the act of stepping through the time-hole into the preserved 1958-slice sets the whole process of present-heading-into-future in motion (or you take it with you, maybe?), leaving infinite pasts behind for the Langoliers to eat (except for that one moment the time-hole opens onto) and beginning the creation of a new future. Stepping back through the time-hole into 2011 brings an end to that two-minute holding pattern and fills in all the gaps you just skipped over, creating the new 2011 and setting the present-into-future-and-Langoliers-eating-past thing into motion again from 2011 onwards. Yeah? Whoa.

    2) What happened when someone was already in there, setting stuff in motion, and another person went through? I guess, on the “2011” end, that needs to happen in the two-minute window before the other time traveller returns. I can’t remember how that was dealt with, was it actually impossible? Certainly it seemed like no matter how many years a time traveller spent at the early-end, nobody ever came through in that time, say, in 1960 or whenever. They’d presumably appear in 1958 again and start their own sequence, so what would happen to the dude in 1960? Seems logical that the time-hole would be in lockdown for that two-minute window (or until the time traveller died at the early-end) – I can’t recall if this was all confirmed, dealt with and explained.

    3) On that topic, is it only humans who can set the thing in motion? What if a rat went through from the basement in the “2011” end, carrying some sort of horrible 2011 antibody-resistant disease? Was that dealt with too? It rings a bell.

    4) What was it that happened when you brought someone back through, from the 1958 end to the “2011” end? That was an idea the protagonist played with, wasn’t it? Shit, maybe he even tried it? Would it have worked?

    5) So what kicks off the resumption of the “present”, either in locked-instant-1958 or on-hold-two-minutes-2011? Is it simply the presence of that one time-travelling person? Does it need to be a life-form? A consciousness of some level? Is it, like I said previously, a matter of the traveller bringing the moving-present along with him or her, leaving preserved-instant-1958 or holding-pattern-two-minute-2011 behind respectively? What powers that?

    6) Obviously this time-hole is different from the time-rip the people went through in The Langoliers, because:

    6a) They didn’t kick off a fully active sequence of past-present-future, but a sort of faded equivalent where there was basic cause-and-effect but the Langoliers still showed up to eat them. They went back a short distance, in a crappy way, like falling off a moving car and ending up coughing in the dust. The time-rip “moved” with them in such a way as they could fly back through, at which point they ended up slightly in the future and were flung back into the moving car, so to speak, and rejoined the main sequence.

    6b) They couldn’t otherwise affect anything in the past in a way that affected the present/future (“the unlovely truth about time travel”, as Al from Quantum Leap said in The Langoliers‘s TV movie): they were left behind, rather than shifted into a distinct and active time-sequence. The story ended before we could see whether the dead sandwiches they ate had vanished in the present, but my guess is that they didn’t – they’d been so dead because they were already essentially nonexistent, and the future-becoming-present moment had recreated everything (except for Toomey, and all the people who vanished in the time-rip). Whether the Langoliers ate those sandwiches or the people took them along in their stomachs, the effect is the same: the sandwiches are gone and the “future” makes new ones.

    6c) If it was the same sort of phenomenon, anyone going through it would be vaporised apart from their surgical pins and tooth fillings (unless they were asleep).

  3. dreameling says:

    That was a nice bit of reading to kick off the day. I wish I had something relevant to contribute, though, especially since time travel stuff is among my very favorite fiction stuff, but I haven’t read 11/22/63 or The Langoliers (although I did read the latter’s plot synopsis on Wikipedia). So, I’m just gonna throw some tangential comments your way Because why not?

    The problem with a lot of books that try to explain time travel in more science-solid terms is that you end up with quantum and other multiverse-based time travel theories, they’re all science and stuff but ultimately disappointing because of the consequences. You can’t “go back in time” and “change the future” – you can only ever “go to some alternative universe where it is earlier” and “create a new probability branch”.

    Do you mean that you dislike time travel stories where changing the future is explained by separate timelines or quantum physics, but you’re otherwise fine with changing the future, or that you do not buy time travel stories where the future changes?

    I’m just interested where you stand on this, since for me the only “plausible” sort of time travel is one where you cannot change the future, at least not to an extent where you remove the reason for the trip back in time, which also means that alternate timelines à la Back to the Future and countless Star Trek shenanigans make no sense. Closed loop where effect follows cause, is what I’m saying. I think the only “change the future” time travel story that I was totally sold on was Gregory Benford’s Timescape, which used the “create a new probability branch” approach (which I really liked, but I’m guessing you’re not too keen on). Stephen Baxter’s Time’s Tapestry also worked alternate future stuff to its story quite nicely.

    I’m itching to comment on King’s rift solution, but I think I’ll pass for now, because I’d probably just end up derailing this thread even further by not having read the book.

    No, the Langoliers devour the universe of the “past”, presumably on an infinite scale with every infinitesimally-small passing instant.

    The Wikipedia plot synopsis describes how “the passengers watch the rest of the land below falling into a formless, black void” as the Langoliers devour the past. But why didn’t the Langoliers then follow the plane and devour the air as well? (If you now tell me that they in fact did, or that there’s a perfectly valid explanation in the book, then this is a perfect example of what happens when you comment on something that you don’t fully understand, which would just make my day.)

    Total derail: The Langoliers made me think of the timeline-healing paradox-fixing Reapers from the Doctor Who episode “Father’s Day”. Even though both are kind of neat story concepts, I’m not sure I will ever buy the idea that the universe would create creatures to take care of time. That’s like creating creatures to make sure that the laws of physics remain intact. (Yes, I probably have an inappropriately sciency stick up my ass. I do like Doctor Who so far, though.)

    This works better with mescaline.

    The only way to fly?

    • stchucky says:

      So, I’m just gonna throw some tangential comments your way Because why not?

      Felt confident you would!

      Do you mean that you dislike time travel stories where changing the future is explained by separate timelines or quantum physics, but you’re otherwise fine with changing the future, or that you do not buy time travel stories where the future changes?

      The former. And yes, I’m fine with changing the future, and tend to use suspension of disbelief to ignore the “fixed the problem so no reason to go back in time in the first place” paradox. This is usually solved in-universe anyway, by the time travellers being immune to the time-rewriting effect (“you mean we’re the only ones who know what really happened?” could be a TV Trope).

      But why didn’t the Langoliers then follow the plane and devour the air as well? (If you now tell me that they in fact did, or that there’s a perfectly valid explanation in the book, then this is a perfect example of what happens when you comment on something that you don’t fully understand, which would just make my day.)

      My guess is that they would have (they weren’t as fast as a plane [although in the TV movie version they came close] or were otherwise completely unsuited to chasing a plane, because it was presumably something they’d never had to do before), but for two things:

      1) They were attracted by the richness of the “live food” (the people who had come through the time-rip) that they were unusued to as I just said, and while they would have gone for the larger target of the plane and the escaping people, they went for the slower decoy, Toomey, a psychopath who went rambling off and drew the Langloiers away from the plane just long enough for–

      2) They escaped back through the time-rip before they could get consumed.

      So I guess a simple “yeah, it’s explained, consider your day made” would have sufficed there. But that’s not the way I roll.

      Total derail: The Langoliers made me think of the timeline-healing paradox-fixing Reapers from the Doctor Who episode “Father’s Day”. Even though both are kind of neat story concepts, I’m not sure I will ever buy the idea that the universe would create creatures to take care of time. That’s like creating creatures to make sure that the laws of physics remain intact. (Yes, I probably have an inappropriately sciency stick up my ass. I do like Doctor Who so far, though.)

      Really good point, I was reminded of them too.

      And it is kind of a stick up your ass. Sorry. The idea, to me, was that there might well be specially-evolved life-forms in every one of these niches in the laws of physics (if not to ensure that they happen, then to take advantage of them in ways we haven’t thought about before[1]), and we just don’t know about them because we’re stuck in the very narrow cross-section of physical laws that we biologically occupy.

      [1] But indeed, who’s to say there aren’t things behind the scenes, in other dimensions, making the physical laws of our dimensions exhibit the way they do?

      Get used to more of that preposterous nonsense as you watch Doctor Who. *grin*

  4. aaronthepatriot says:

    HAH, I take credit for both sending you that Looper critique video, AND for disassembling its points with you ad nauseum, for which of course you had your fair share of ideas. Moving on….

    ‘I think one of the characters in The Langoliers even says “you can’t go back in time and stop the Kennedy assassination,” or something of the sort. Which was a nice bit of full-circle.’

    Well, if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that quoted phrase, though…I’d be a rich man. Isn’t it in just about half of the movies from America post 1963? =D

    And I have nothing else of substance to add, this was well done and I don’t mind reading it here instead of my email, in fact I’m flattered to have inspired a blog post. Again ;D

    But, I think you should clean up the first few times you talk about “1958” because your language makes it sound like you *sit there* in 1958, instead of time advancing normally forward from there. It’s just a little unclear IMO and I read the book! So I know what you’re trying to say!

    -Aaron

    • stchucky says:

      ‘I think one of the characters in The Langoliers even says “you can’t go back in time and stop the Kennedy assassination,” or something of the sort. Which was a nice bit of full-circle.’

      Well, if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that quoted phrase, though…I’d be a rich man. Isn’t it in just about half of the movies from America post 1963? =D

      Sure. Not so many where it’s a story about time travel, and then the same artist goes on and does another story about time travel where the character actually goes back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination, though. That made it fairly unique, Mister Wisenheimer.

      And I have nothing else of substance to add

      Damn shame, I was hoping you’d remember more about the story since you’d just read it, so you could clear up some of the stuff I was unsure about. Don’t know if King addressed some of these plot points or if he just left them unanswered.

      But, I think you should clean up the first few times you talk about “1958″ because your language makes it sound like you *sit there* in 1958, instead of time advancing normally forward from there.

      Good point, I guess it needs to be clearer that depending on where you are, both ends of the time-hole can sort of move. I rephrased to “You could spend as much time back there as you wanted, starting in 1958, then come back through (or not)” and so on. Should be clear enough.

  5. “Damn shame, I was hoping you’d remember more about the story since you’d just read it, so you could clear up some of the stuff I was unsure about. Don’t know if King addressed some of these plot points or if he just left them unanswered.”

    I didn’t really see anything you were unsure of, except this:
    “I think the general idea was that sure, you might be creating new alternative futures, but that 1958 would always connect up to this 2011,”

    Well obviously not (you had an emphasis on “this”), since THIS 2011 is changed (sometimes dramatically) by what you do in 1958-and-on-land…so a bit of a language thing again because I don’t think you were really saying 2011 is always unchanged, just FF’ed 2 minutes. Obviously that’s not the case, King puts forward this concern repeatedly (maybe enough change that the bubble is gone, for one!).

    Other than that, aside from adding spoiler details I didn’t see anything to say. By which I mean, I agree with your points. Kuh-piss-key? (Capisce)

    “Good point, I guess it needs to be clearer that depending on where you are, both ends of the time-hole can sort of move. I rephrased to “You could spend as much time back there as you wanted, starting in 1958, then come back through (or not)” and so on. Should be clear enough.”

    Precisely. Happy to be of help.

    • stchucky says:

      I didn’t really see anything you were unsure of, except this:

      “I think the general idea was that sure, you might be creating new alternative futures, but that 1958 would always connect up to this 2011,”

      Well obviously not (you had an emphasis on “this”), since THIS 2011 is changed (sometimes dramatically) by what you do in 1958-and-on-land…so a bit of a language thing again because I don’t think you were really saying 2011 is always unchanged, just FF’ed 2 minutes. Obviously that’s not the case, King puts forward this concern repeatedly (maybe enough change that the bubble is gone, for one!).

      Ah, I see.

      No, my thinking was that the frozen-moment 1958 is connected with this 2011, in that if you go to 1958, then straight back, the original 2011 reasserts itself. Sure, if you go into 1958 and spend ten minutes shooting people, then go back through the time-hole (let’s call it “time-hole 1958+10m”), it’ll connect you to a different 2011 where those people died in 1958.

      If, however, you go immediately back through and reset, you come back to this 2011 again (as in, the timeline healed and original again … naturally it will be time-hole 2011+2m at the absolute minimum). Thus, that 1958 always connects up to this 2011.

      All in all, I think this book had one of the neatest solutions to the paradox dreameling has problems with.

      But mainly, my questions and un-remembered stuff were down in the additional comments: the points about what happens if two people go through, what happens if a rat goes through, what happens if a 1958ian comes back, and so on.

      • stchucky says:

        So, the kernel of King’s story is that only one person (or thing?) can travel back in time and change things. Once only. Any other attempt to do so will reset the universe to default.

        Which really makes the altered timeline extremely frail, now I think about it. Even if it has to be a human going through, in order to kick-start the moving-present in 1958.

        It’s also somehow very USian that there’s this time-hole to 1958 and you can only make one trip (essentially) to affect edits to history, and … Kennedy is what they focus on. Oh well, makes for a good story.

        And the original time traveller looked into some other options, I seem to recall. But since you keep on aging, one lifetime played out in re-hashes of the 1950s and 1960s will only get you so far. Which is also cool.

  6. dreameling says:

    Some many wonderful nuggets of gold scattered across this thread…

    it specifically denies me my “time traveller cancels out the reason for himself to time travel and yet unaccountably still time travels” suspension of disbelief by stating / showing outright that the time traveller is not immune to the changed cause-and-effect, and changes along with it in almost-real-time

    So you accept a cancellation paradox provided the time traveller is immune to changes in the timeline? But how could she ever be immune if she’s part of the cause-and-effect chain?

    The problem for me with the “You mean we’re the only ones who know what really happened?” TV trope (let’s make sure you get to officially coin that name) is that it’s almost never explained. What specifically makes the time traveller immune? (“Because she’s the time traveller” is not an answer.)

    almost-real-time

    Real-time timeline changes may very well be my biggest beef with time travel stories that try to have their cake and eat it too. Real-time changes simply make no sense. They fundamentally misunderstand the whole concept of time / the now / cause and effect: If something changes in the past, then it will always already have changed come the present. There would be no disappearing objects or people, since they would have never been there in the first place. Why would the effects of a change in time skip ahead to a future point in time and completely ignore the time in between? Yeah, this is really just the cancellation paradox again, but it’s probably the most absurd way of trying to work around it.

    I can give it pass, though, if it’s used as a cinematic shorthand to indicate a shift to an alternate reality or timeline, but in that case the surrounding world (including the time traveller) should be oblivious to the change, since the original state never existed in the alternate reality. Also, I would expect at least some subtle changes in the surrounding world to hammer in the fact that this is not the old reality anymore.

    But oh god help me if the real-time change is a gradual fading out that characters are aware of! IT MAKES EVEN LESS FUCKING SENSE! AAAARRRGGGHHHHH!

    Sure, Looper had the real-time change, but I liked the movie too much to really care. (Never said I was consistent.)

    There’s a couple of other things I was trying to work out:

    That’s a pretty impressive series of deconstruction and extrapolation, but the sheer number of open issues you’re ultimately left with suggests to me that a) King’s time-hole logic doesn’t hold water (hehe) and b) he should’ve consulted you before writing the final draft.

    Incidentally, I also have a problem with continuous two-way time rifts (not sure if King’s time-hole specifically qualifies). Basically, the information flowing from the future to the past would continuously reconfigure the past, thereby continuously reconfiguring the future that is feeding back the very information that is generating that future. The only way this would work is if the timeline was deterministic: The information flowing from the future has always already configured the past and the past has always already generated just the right future for sending that information. Forever and forever.

    And it is kind of a stick up your ass. Sorry.

    No need to apologize. We know it’s there. Let’s just accept it and respect it.

    Gotta run. To be continued…

    • dreameling says:

      PS. I love stuff like this. Why is it, Chucky, that I didn’t start talking to you already in 2006 when I joined LB?

    • stchucky says:

      So you accept a cancellation paradox provided the time traveller is immune to changes in the timeline? But how could she ever be immune if she’s part of the cause-and-effect chain?

      Time radiation.

      Yeah, that’s a thing.

      (seriously though, really? Once you accept that time travel has happened, you have to know your disbelief-suspension is capable of absorbing pretty much anything)

      I can give it pass, though, if it’s used as a cinematic shorthand to indicate a shift to an alternate reality or timeline, but in that case the surrounding world (including the time traveller) should be oblivious to the change, since the original state never existed in the alternate reality.

      The rest of the world usually is. I don’t agree that the time traveller should be, because often he or she will still be in their machine, or will have been elsewhere in time while history was changing, or any one of a dozen other things. Or he or she will be the one who messed things up in the first place. I don’t know, it just doesn’t bother me that a time traveller can change the future, and then remember the way it was before. It’s a pretty fundamental principle of the genre.

      But sure, it can be done well or it can be done badly. And I can see how it’d bug you.

      My philosophy is, until we’ve actually travelled in time and seen how these things occur, we can’t say one depiction is more believable. And like you say:

      Sure, Looper had the real-time change, but I liked the movie too much to really care. (Never said I was consistent.)

      No, that’s perfectly consistent: consistent with liking a good story, well-told. Which is what putting time travel in a story does not automatically make it.

      Unlike a Velociraptor.

    • stchucky says:

      And it is kind of a stick up your ass. Sorry.

      No need to apologize. We know it’s there. Let’s just accept it and respect it.

      Oh, and I respect it! It’s a handsome stick.

  7. dreameling wrote:
    ‘So you accept a cancellation paradox provided the time traveller is immune to changes in the timeline? But how could she ever be immune if she’s part of the cause-and-effect chain?’

    I think what’s meant there is that the person has removed themself *in time* from the place where they left. But once they change history, they move to a different time-stream, and never go back to the one they were actually trying to change. But *they* are immune in the sense that they remain who they are (basically), just inserted in a different timeline. It’s not as if those changes change who THEY are in the same way as the shift of the timeline. Because, their original timeline is unchanged. And that’s the one that birthed them and made who they are. See? =D

    Man my head hurts.

    ‘The problem for me with the “You mean we’re the only ones who know what really happened?” TV trope (let’s make sure you get to officially coin that name) is that it’s almost never explained. What specifically makes the time traveller immune? (“Because she’s the time traveller” is not an answer.)’

    Well, it actually is. But it requires more detail. LOL

    • stchucky says:

      Right. What he said.

      I was also thinking something along the lines that people who have caused a timeline shift or paradox will notice it and remember how it was before because of some fourth-dimensional element to their bodies, since they have travelled in time in order to cause the event and therefore … argh, it boils down to “they remember it because they’re time travellers” only now I’ve gone and mixed the mathematical fourth dimension with the pop culture time-as-fourth-dimension, and now we’re all essentially doomed.

      • stchucky says:

        Except of course their immunity from the new history tends to support the “alternate timestream” model of time travel, by which they’ve created a new stream and everyone in that stream is part of it but they are part of a different one, and can never affect their own stream. Which I don’t like because it takes away the character’s drive.

        Because let’s be honest here – we’re talking about fiction so the character is way, way, way more important than the science. Pratchett calls it “narrativium” and it’s as good a word as any.

  8. dreameling says:

    Finally, a proper computer…

    The idea, to me, was that there might well be specially-evolved life-forms in every one of these niches in the laws of physics (if not to ensure that they happen, then to take advantage of them in ways we haven’t thought about before[1]), and we just don’t know about them because we’re stuck in the very narrow cross-section of physical laws that we biologically occupy.

    [1] But indeed, who’s to say there aren’t things behind the scenes, in other dimensions, making the physical laws of our dimensions exhibit the way they do?

    Fair enough. But based on what we know of the universe and the laws that govern it, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that there is anyone behind the scenes or that there is a “behind the scenes” to begin with. The universe and its laws seems to favor simplicity, and creatures and things like this are just added complexity that’s not required. (This is getting dangerously close to God and the celestial teapot.)

    What I might buy, though, are life forms like us that have evolved by way of natural selection (or some analogue thereof) and developed technologies and tools so advanced that they have made the universe their bitch!

    Get used to more of that preposterous nonsense as you watch Doctor Who. *grin*

    Doctor Who is getting a free pass for now because a) I quite like the characters (silly as they are) and b) the series is basically fantasy (or sci-fi so advanced it’s indistinguishable from fantasy).

    (seriously though, really? Once you accept that time travel has happened, you have to know your disbelief-suspension is capable of absorbing pretty much anything)

    My philosophy is, until we’ve actually travelled in time and seen how these things occur, we can’t say one depiction is more believable.

    Dude. That’s a bit of a cop-out. Simply because something is impossible or considered impossible (or at the very least highly improbable) in the real world, doesn’t mean that anything goes when you render it in fiction. Plausibility in fiction is not limited to real-world objects and phenomena. You can (and do) extrapolate based on what you know or think you know about how things behave in the real world. And I’m generalizing because time travel is not a special case.

    Time travel may not be possible, but we can speculate how it would likely behave if it were. Causality, for example, seems to be a pretty unbreakable thing in the physical world, even on the quantum level. If time travel to the past is possible, it stands to reason that it more likely observes causality than not. Physicists have actually considered time travel seriously, so it’s not the sole property of fiction. Surprisingly enough, I’m partial to the Novikov self-consistency principle. (I totally looked up the name from Wikipedia.)

    No, that’s perfectly consistent: consistent with liking a good story, well-told. Which is what putting time travel in a story does not automatically make it.

    No arguments there. Character and story come first, no question. But that’s still no reason to not draw on science to add plausibility or at least a resemblance of plausibility when appropriate. In order of priority (as far as I’m concerned):

    1. Character.
    2. Story.
    3. Internally coherent and consistent story world.
    4. Science.

    (Logic, of course, applies on every level.)

    Meaning that even if I don’t like particular take on time travel, I will have way less problems with if it at least works consistently in the story world. Same with magic and, well, pretty much everything really. Consistency is a kind of plausibility.

    Unlike a Velociraptor.

    Yeah. I don’t get them. Sorry. The Rex is way cooler.

    I think what’s meant there is that the person has removed themself *in time* from the place where they left. But once they change history, they move to a different time-stream, and never go back to the one they were actually trying to change. But *they* are immune in the sense that they remain who they are (basically), just inserted in a different timeline. It’s not as if those changes change who THEY are in the same way as the shift of the timeline. Because, their original timeline is unchanged. And that’s the one that birthed them and made who they are. See?

    But that’s just one way out of the situation. And, like Chucky pointed out, that’s really about alternate timelines, not about changing and remaining immune in the current timeline.

    argh, it boils down to “they remember it because they’re time travellers” only now I’ve gone and mixed themathematical fourth dimension with the pop culture time-as-fourth-dimension, and now we’re all essentially doomed.

    I could swear I heard the universe gasp.

    • stchucky says:

      Fair enough. But based on what we know of the universe and the laws that govern it, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that there is anyone behind the scenes or that there is a “behind the scenes” to begin with.

      I hear you, I do, but “based on what we know of the universe” can either mean “a whole heck of a lot” or “practically nothing”, depending on where you fall on the spectrum of “massively human-centric and arrogant” to “naïve and wanting to believe in fairies and goblins”.

      creatures and things like this are just added complexity that’s not required.

      Sir. The human race and the Internet and amoebas and heavy rock ballads and monkeys and Agave cactuses and Deadpool comics and tantric sex and everything we say and do are “just added complexity that’s not required”, I can’t allow that as an argument.

      And as specifically relates to things that enable laws of physics rather than evolve or technologically adapt to take advantage of them … enh. No, I’m not going to say we know enough to deny that shit. Let alone think less of a story that employs it as a premise. I’m not going to lower my opinion of The Langoliers just because there probably isn’t such a species of horrifying monsters that eat the universe when it transitions from present to past. Like I said up in the original blog post, the story has its problems but I still like it. It’s creepy as fuck – and driven by character and narrative, not science.

      Dude. That’s a bit of a cop-out. Simply because something is impossible or considered impossible (or at the very least highly improbable) in the real world, doesn’t mean that anything goes when you render it in fiction.

      I didn’t say that, although of course you’re free to say it’s a cop-out and I’ll happily accept that, no harm no foul. I’m just saying:

      1) I don’t seem to find the same concepts plausible as you do.

      2) When it comes to fiction I tend to weigh “satisfying in a narrative sense” far more heavily than “supported by current human scientific knowledge”. This is closely related to point (1), in that I don’t like my time travel and indeed any other as-yet-theoretical technology to be too over-explained. So naturally I might sometimes say “plausible” when I mean “satisfying”, which can be misleading.

      Certainly to suggest that I think “anything goes just because it’s a story” is an overstatement – I did agree with you that there are good ways and bad ways to do this, and you yourself have given a pass on stories that fail on point (1) above simply because they pass point (2). Or, according to your list, passing stories that fail (4) because they pass (1), (2) and (3).

      [insert DQI scorecard reference here]

      • dreameling says:

        Oh, and I respect it! It’s a handsome stick.

        On my tomb stone it will read: “He had a handsome stick.”

        I hear you, I do, but “based on what we know of the universe” can either mean “a whole heck of a lot” or “practically nothing”, depending on where you fall on the spectrum of “massively human-centric and arrogant” to “naïve and wanting to believe in fairies and goblins”.

        I don’t see it as arrogance or naivety. I see it as keeping an open mind and accepting the fact that we do not know everything (and probably never will) yet restricting our frame of reference roughly to what we do know or can make educated guess about at the moment. Fairies might exist, but there’s no evidence or reason to suppose that they do. Reality might be an inconceivably advanced computer simulation, but we cannot possible determine whether it is, so the issue is a moot point. Time travel, if possible, might be all sorts of things, but what we do know about the laws of physics at the moment suggests that causality is more likely to prevail than not. And so on.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that just because we don’t know something doesn’t give us license to fill in that gap with whatever random thing we can imagine and then claim it equally plausible to anything else we could possibly imagine. There are a more plausible and less plausible ways of using your imagination to fill in gaps. And the more plausible ones are those that draw on what we do know. Science, baby. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we got.

        I’m sure all that somehow connects back to the original issue, which had something to do with time travel in fiction.

        Certainly to suggest that I think “anything goes just because it’s a story” is an overstatement

        Indeed. I was generalizing for the sake of argument. Sue me. Somebody who does extensive extrapolatory [1] thinking for the purpose of logically reconciling the rules of two separate story worlds created by another author does not strike me as an “anything goes just because it’s fiction” person.

        [1] Exploratory + extrapolative. Coined it!

        Sir. The human race and the Internet and heavy rock ballads and Deadpool comics and tantric sex and everything we say and do are “just added complexity that’s not required”, I can’t allow that as an argument.

        You misunderstand me. Probably because I was a bit vague. I was talking about added complexity in the laws that govern how the universe works. The human race and everything about it are emergent complexity. Which is totally cool. But where that complexity emerges from is a relatively simple set of rules and basic components. Best we can tell at the moment, the universe is made up of four forces of nature and twelve particles of matter, and absolutely everything emerges from that (even tantric sex). If you add complexity to that, it has to be pretty fucking well-justified, because the universe seems to favor simple solutions over complex ones. Creatures that oversee the laws of nature are (a shitload of) added complexity to those laws.

        That’s what I meant.

        Of course, none of this should stop anyone from imagining weird cosmologies and setting stories in them. (But the cosmologies better be consistently represented in those stories!)

        I don’t seem to find the same concepts plausible as you do.

        And that’s totally fine, obviously. I think I already said this in the Gant thread, but what anyone considers plausible or realistic is ultimately determined by their own internalized model of the world, which they keep building and tweaking and redoing every day as they move through life and learn and unlearn stuff. Personal taste and random peculiarities of the mind are also factors, I’m sure. I clearly have a stick up my ass about cause and effect in time travel, for example, which affects my take on stories with time travel in a very specific way. But it’s cool. Respect.

        and you yourself have given a pass on stories that fail on point (1) above simply because they pass point (2). Or, according to your list, passing stories that fail (4) because they pass (1), (2) and (3).

        Make it stop, make it stop!

      • stchucky says:

        I don’t see it as arrogance or naivety.

        No, of course, not at our positions. I didn’t mean to suggest we were occupying either extreme, which I would hope went without saying. You just seem to be coming from a place on the spectrum that’s human-science-centric-side of centre, while I’m coming from a place that maybe has a hint of goblin.

        yet restricting our frame of reference roughly to what we do know or can make educated guess about at the moment

        Sure, of course. Knowing about Mars totally destroyed the John Carter concept.

        *glance*

        No, but seriously, I tend to agree. In a lot of cases it even makes the story more inspiring to ground it in current theory. Heck, relatability is a huge narrative rule after all, that’s really what this is at the core. And I’m all about the narrative rules, baby.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that just because we don’t know something doesn’t give us license to fill in that gap with whatever random thing we can imagine and then claim it equally plausible to anything else we could possibly imagine.

        You’re right, that was a poor call on my part. I tried to retcon it by saying that I’ve substituted “plausible” for “satisfying”, but you’re right to call me out on it anyway.

        I’m sure all that somehow connects back to the original issue, which had something to do with time travel in fiction.

        No, you’re good. It wandered a bit further out into general storytelling rules, but that was inevitable. And I do tend to agree with you.

        The idea of time travel, though, at least in my view, is the dream that a person can shortcut through long periods of development to reach a goal (future-travel), or go back to correct mistakes of the past (past-travel), and these are things that have way more to do with fantasy than reality. They’re also pretty much what every time travel story ever told, anywhere, ever, has been about.

        And when science finds out that this is most likely not how time travel would work, the alternatives are (to me) vastly unsatisfying. I don’t want to read a story about people going to another dimension where the universe developed in exactly the same way just a couple of hundred years later (Timeline, which did its best to make a quantum-based time travel story feel like a real time travel story [why yes, I am phrasing it like that out of pure, unadulterated spite], but didn’t get a pass from me), or a story about how the Time Traveller took a second journey which relegated his first to a lost time-stream among infinite and doomed not only Weena to death, but that entire reality to practical non-existence (The Time Ships). I just don’t wanna (I should add that I did like the science and the scenery in The Time Ships – I just didn’t like the time travel story. No motivation).

        Maybe at some point we need to divide “science fiction” time travel (or “quantum multiverse bullplop time travel”, as I call it) from “science fantasy” time travel (or “time travel”, as I call it), the way we have with stuff about Mars and the moon – and the way, ultimately, we have depicted the future in any of our stories. We’re not likely to have hoverboards and nineteen Jaws movies by next year, so it becomes fantastical to pretend we will. But it doesn’t spoil the story for me.

        OH FUCK YEAH

        Heh, “this time it’s REALLY personal”, never noticed that before. And “Directed by Max Spielberg”.

        And I don’t think either of us are there yet, judging by the way you give a pass to some stories because they’re well-told. If you have a stick, it’s a nice and flexible stick. Maybe that’s because you divide them out into science fantasy. Your call.

        I did, however, sit up just before bedtime last night and resolve the conflict. Between the different time travel concepts and with the causality paradox. I solved the whole thing and reconciled the big schools of thought on the matter, and figured out how to have a quantum/multiverse time-stream concept that still enabled narrative motivation and alteration. Scribbled it all down on a sticky-note, maybe I’ll scan it for a later post, it is serious Doc Brown shit. I’m going to give the story to Gant, though. Later.

        Just so you know.

        Of course, none of this should stop anyone from imagining weird cosmologies and setting stories in them.

        Good! Then that’s sorted.

        This really was pretty much a blog entry, I need to stop doing these in the comments section. Damn you all.

      • dreameling says:

        We seem to be aligning again, so not sure how much more I have to contribute, but…

        You just seem to be coming from a place on the spectrum that’s human-science-centric-side of centre, while I’m coming from a place that maybe has a hint of goblin.

        That’s probably an accurate summary. Although — and this probably goes without saying — my sciency prejudice [1] applies most forcefully to sci-fi. I swear to you I got no problems with fairies and goblins in fantasy. I do prefer logical and systematic magic systems, though. (I know, didn’t see that coming.)

        [1] Human? I’d quibble about there being nothing beyond the human for us, but I think I understand what you mean.

        Heck, relatability is a huge narrative rule after all, that’s really what this is at the core. And I’m all about the narrative rules, baby.

        Yeah. Relatability, plausibility (and not just vis-à-vis science), consistency. It all adds up to something you can believe or at least easily suspend your disbelief with. And I’m just gonna assume you’re not being at all sarcastic about narrative rules and mechanics, because that shit is real and I will slap you with my literary theoretical credentials if you say otherwise. (I’m 99% certain you’re being serious.)

        The idea of time travel, though, at least in my view, is the dream that a person can shortcut through long periods of development to reach a goal (future-travel), or go back to correct mistakes of the past (past-travel), and these are things that have way more to do with fantasy than reality. They’re also pretty much what every time travel story ever told, anywhere, ever, has been about.

        And that is an extremely relatable idea. I think simple curiosity is also a motivator in some time travel stories — although these can then evolve into stories about how to stop an unexpectedly dire future (essentially “correct mistakes of the past”) — while others eschew the personal aspect entirely and go for metaphor or allegory (The Time Machine by Wells comes to mind). Obviously, neither of these options have the character drive and drama that your future-travel and past-travel scenarios have.

        I don’t want to read a story about people going to another dimension where the universe developed in exactly the same way just a couple of hundred years later (Timeline, which did its best to make a quantum-based time travel story feel like a real time travel story [why yes, I am phrasing it like that out of pure, unadulterated spite], but didn’t get a pass from me), or a story about how the Time Traveller took a second journey which relegated his first to a lost time-stream among infinite and doomed not only Weena to death, but that entire reality to practical non-existence (The Time Ships).

        You dislike the first type (“alternate timeline”) because the stakes and consequences for the characters are not as a high, since the time travel never affects their native timeline, their home? (That’s how I read your original post.)

        The second one I totally get on an emotional level. I think the worst possible version of it is where the time travelers themselves are replaced by newer timeline or time loop versions, that is, where the “originals” you became invested in as characters die or are somehow deleted out of existence. I distinctly recall a Stargate SG-1 episode with a time loop where the original team was left stranded in Ancient Egypt during the first round and were replaced by a new instance in the second round of the loop. (There may have been further rounds.) It was somehow really disheartening to think that the “originals” that I had become so invested in over several seasons were now dead. Not cool, man.

        Heh, “this time it’s REALLY personal”, never noticed that before. And “Directed by Max Spielberg”.

        It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.

        And I don’t think either of us are there yet, judging by the way you give a pass to some stories because they’re well-told. If you have a stick, it’s a nice and flexible stick. Maybe that’s because you divide them out into science fantasy. Your call.

        I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t think we need to be too anal about how we classify and pass time travel stories. It’s a sliding spectrum. If my stick is flexible, it’s because I adjust my criteria based on the genre of the story [2] (a science fantasy story gets a pass where a sci-fi story would not etc.) and because I rate good drama above good science (Looper was first and foremost a good movie that combined a great story with fleshy-enough characters).

        [2] Could not figure out how to stay within the penis metaphor. Apologies.

        I did, however, sit up just before bedtime last night and resolve the conflict. Between the different time travel concepts and with the causality paradox. I solved the whole thing and reconciled the big schools of thought on the matter, and figured out how to have a quantum/multiverse time-stream concept that still enabled narrative motivation and alteration. Scribbled it all down on a sticky-note, maybe I’ll scan it for a later post, it is serious Doc Brown shit. I’m going to give the story to Gant, though. Later.

        I cannot wait to rip you a new one. (I am intrigued.)

        This really was pretty much a blog entry, I need to stop doing these in the comments section. Damn you all.

        And we thank you.

        (This is where a message board would be so convenient.)

      • stchucky says:

        my sciency prejudice [1] applies most forcefully to sci-fi

        Of course.

        And I’m just gonna assume you’re not being at all sarcastic about narrative rules and mechanics, because that shit is real and I will slap you with my literary theoretical credentials if you say otherwise. (I’m 99% certain you’re being serious.)

        Of course I was being serious! It was the founding premise of my original post. I was trying to find an in-universe-consistent way of reconciling two time travel stories written by the same author.

        while others eschew the personal aspect entirely and go for metaphor or allegory (The Time Machine by Wells comes to mind).

        Out of interest (because I wasn’t sure if you knew this), The Time Ships that I have been bitching about is the officially-approved sequel to that. Which did tend to ruin the concept a bit, even though I repeat, it was a good story. Any story in which Morlocks build a Dyson sphere is worth reading.

        You dislike the first type (“alternate timeline”) because the stakes and consequences for the characters are not as a high, since the time travel never affects their native timeline, their home? (That’s how I read your original post.)

        Correct.

        I think the worst possible version of it is where the time travelers themselves are replaced by newer timeline or time loop versions, that is, where the “originals” you became invested in as characters die or are somehow deleted out of existence.

        Oh yeah, Stargate, exactly. They also did this about halfway through season 1 of Star Trek: Voyager, putting Harry Kim through a time-stream-dimension-wossname onto an almost-identical Voyager, and just continued from there. Whole different universe, while the Voyager we’d been following up until then exploded and everyone died. Now maybe it didn’t matter so much because they really were exactly the same until they diverged sometime in that episode, but they still remained diverged. And every other time that happens in Star Trek (it even happens to Harry Kim several more times), the character burns Heaven and Earth trying to get back to his or her crappy reality because “this just … isn’t … RIGHT!” (another TV trope?). But this time Harry was like, “meh.”

        That’s why I didn’t care so much about the post-Nero timeline. It wasn’t like the timeline he did it to was the old one anyway.

      • dreameling says:

        Any story in which Morlocks build a Dyson sphere is worth reading.

        OK. Whoa. What?

        They also did this about halfway through season 1 of Star Trek: Voyager, putting Harry Kim through a time-stream-dimension-wossname onto an almost-identical Voyager, and just continued from there. Whole different universe, while the Voyager we’d been following up until then exploded and everyone died.

        That time rift thing with the badly damaged Voyager (“original”) on one side and the healthy one on the other? Yeah, exactly what I was talking about.

        Now maybe it didn’t matter so much because they really were exactly the same until they diverged sometime in that episode, but they still remained diverged.

        No, no, it did matter. There’s something very real about “originals” that matters. Even if the replacements are identical to the originals. I’m thinking it’s a linear time human brain thing. Sure, you forget the divergence or replacement eventually, but it’s still not fun to watch (at least for me).

        But this time Harry was like, “meh.”

        On a personal note: I never liked the character. Harry Kim may very well be the most boring Star Trek character ever. They should’ve left him behind the first time they crossed timelines.

        That’s why I didn’t care so much about the post-Nero timeline. It wasn’t like the timeline he did it to was the old one anyway.

        There was that, yeah. I was never really that invested in the TOS crew, but it did bug me that the TNG and DS9 crews (and stories) were now essentially dumbed to some alternate timeline. But at least they’re still “there”.

      • stchucky says:

        Any story in which Morlocks build a Dyson sphere is worth reading.

        OK. Whoa. What?

        Hee hee, oh, you didn’t know?

        Yeah. Time Traveller goes on his legendary second journey (the cliffhanger at the end of the original), only to find that returning to 1890s London and telling everyone his story had completely baloneyum’d the space-time whatsits, so the Morlocks evolved differently and built a Dyson sphere somewhere around the orbit of Venus, turning Earth into a perma-night nursery planet.

        So that happened.

        That time rift thing with the badly damaged Voyager (“original”) on one side and the healthy one on the other? Yeah, exactly what I was talking about.

        Yeah, screw that noise.

        There’s something very real about “originals” that matters. Even if the replacements are identical to the originals. I’m thinking it’s a linear time human brain thing.

        Really cool point, I tend to agree.

        Harry Kim may very well be the most boring Star Trek character ever. They should’ve left him behind the first time they crossed timelines.

        But then who would there be for everything to happen to?

      • dreameling says:

        Yeah. Time Traveller goes on his legendary second journey (the cliffhanger at the end of the original), only to find that returning to 1890s London and telling everyone his story had completely baloneyum’d the space-time whatsits, so the Morlocks evolved differently and built a Dyson sphere somewhere around the orbit of Venus, turning Earth into a perma-night nursery planet.

        Huh. Never knew there was a “sequal”. (I did click your Wikipedia link, but clearly I merely “scanned”.) I think maybe I need to check it out. Even though you’ve now kinda spoiled it.

      • stchucky says:

        Believe me, I’ve only spoiled Act One.

    • stchucky says:

      Unlike a Velociraptor.

      Yeah. I don’t get them. Sorry. The Rex is way cooler.

      I can happily amend to T-Rex, I agree.

  9. dreameling says:

    You know, he really does look like a bunny.

    • stchucky says:

      An adorable bunny!

      And I did have to google quite a bit before I found a sufficiently bunny-looking photo of him. It’s mostly in his film appearances that it’s most prevalent.

      • dreameling says:

        Seriously, though, I’ve always found something a little off in King’s face, but I never could quite put my finger on it. Now I finally know. He totally looks like a bunny. An adorable bunny.

  10. aaronthepatriot says:

    “Seriously, though, I’ve always found something a little off in King’s face, but I never could quite put my finger on it. Now I finally know. He totally looks like a bunny. An adorable bunny.”

    I always thought of a snapper turtle with that mouth-and-lower-face-shape. A turtlenny, perhaps?

    And, dreameling, you leave me so confused about how I feel about you. Observe:
    “Fair enough. But based on what we know of the universe and the laws that govern it, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that there is anyone behind the scenes or that there is a “behind the scenes” to begin with. The universe and its laws seems to favor simplicity, and creatures and things like this are just added complexity that’s not required. (This is getting dangerously close to God and the celestial teapot.)”

    Who is this guy and how do I find more like him?

    And yet:
    ” Simply because something is impossible or considered impossible (or at the very least highly improbable) in the real world, doesn’t mean that anything goes when you render it in fiction. Plausibility in fiction is not limited to real-world objects and phenomena.”

    RUINER YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!

    Oh and dreameling, how’s POE going? I got a beta key for Hearthstone, so, so awesome, my wife is already pissed with me and this is only day 3!

    -Aaron

    • dreameling says:

      RUINER YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!

      Um, thank you?

      Oh and dreameling, how’s POE going?

      Haven’t gotten into POE yet. In fact, I’ve hardly been gaming at all in January. Which is just sad and totally wrong. I can’t seem to get started with video games right now.

      I got a beta key for Hearthstone, so, so awesome, my wife is already pissed with me and this is only day 3!

      Dude, I’m so proud of. Please keep the flame burning while I try to get my shit together and allocate a dangerously large portion of my time to not-my-pregnant-wife!

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        ‘RUINER YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!’

        “Um, thank you?”

        Simpsons quote, totally in fun. One of the classic quotes from that show though,

        “Haven’t gotten into POE yet. In fact, I’ve hardly been gaming at all in January. Which is just sad and totally wrong. I can’t seem to get started with video games right now.”

        Hey you’re either
        1. Being a responsible husband
        2. Being a good worker
        3. A combination of the above
        4. Otherwise not in a good place to start

        So, it’s all good. LOL.

        I meant it about giving you some currency and gear though (in standard or hardcore, make sure you don’t choose a league right now–domination/nemesis–those are about to end! And, I mention this because the login defaults you to one of those leagues)

        ‘I got a beta key for Hearthstone, so, so awesome, my wife is already pissed with me and this is only day 3!’

        “Dude, I’m so proud of. Please keep the flame burning while I try to get my shit together and allocate a dangerously large portion of my time to not-my-pregnant-wife!”

        Done and done.

        “I guess what I’m trying to say is that just because we don’t know something doesn’t give us license to fill in that gap with whatever random thing we can imagine and then claim it equally plausible to anything else we could possibly imagine. There are a more plausible and less plausible ways of using your imagination to fill in gaps. And the more plausible ones are those that draw on what we do know. Science, baby. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we got.”

        THIS. Keep singing that sweet music, bro.

        Except you guys are crazy about velociraptors vs. T-Rex. Need I remind you, the whole THING with velociraptors is those clever sonsabitches can SEE you even when you don’t move?

        So if a T-rex went after a velociraptor (and let’s not forget they hunt in packs so this match-up of 1 vs 1 is a bit unfair and unlikely), what the velociraptor would do run a bit, once they’re on the same course and the T-rex is almost on him (which would happen fast because the T-rex has long strides), STAHP, and then when the T-rex came to a halt just over the velociraptor…he’d open up that stupid oversized gecko’s gut with his claws and watch him bleed out. And that’s just in a 1v1 which again, is unfair and unlikely. But, back to the vision thingy….

        I can’t recall properly but didn’t that whole Jurassic Park franchise largely ignore the problem that shit, most of these dinosaurs could probably still SMELL you even if you’re standing still right under their gaping nostrils? Lizards don’t have a lot of scent but humans REEK to animals. So the whole “can only see movement” gag was probably not realistic. You know, just using that science thing you were talking about before. ;D

        -Aaron

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah, a Velociraptor couldn’t open a T-Rex with his claws. Doors, I’m just about prepared to believe. But a T-Rex? No.

        But totally agreed on the “stand still and they won’t see you and you’ll be safe” thing. If this was true, I don’t think dinosaurs would have lasted fifty million years and needed an asteroid (and/or kaiju) to wipe them out. They would have just starved to death.

        And the mammalian “fight/flight response model” would have been the “STOP-Hammertime response model” instead.

        Which would have been cool.

        And anyway, this wasn’t about which would win in a fight or was more dangerous (although that would still be the T-Rex). It was about which is cooler. And Imma go with the T-Rex again. I was going to use T-Rex originally but, I don’t know, for some reason Velociraptors are more “Internet”.

      • dreameling says:

        Hey you’re either
        1. Being a responsible husband
        2. Being a good worker
        3. A combination of the above
        4. Otherwise not in a good place to start

        I’m gonna go with #4. (#1 and #2, lol.)

        I meant it about giving you some currency and gear though (in standard or hardcore, make sure you don’t choose a league right now–domination/nemesis–those are about to end! And, I mention this because the login defaults you to one of those leagues)

        But you can override the login default or change it later? Any documentation I should look at before I start the game, or are the in-game tutorials enough?

        Btw., this looks fucking insane:

        http://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree

        1350 passive skills?!?!?!?!?!?!?

        (But I like that they have an online app for planning character builds.)

        Except you guys are crazy about velociraptors vs. T-Rex. Need I remind you, the whole THING with velociraptors is those clever sonsabitches can SEE you even when you don’t move?

        Don’t you remember the ending of Jurassic Park? The T. Rex totally owns the two raptors! Case closed, man. Case closed.

        PS. Any idea how Chucky feels about these derails of ours on his totally-not-a-message-board-blog?

      • stchucky says:

        Don’t you remember the ending of Jurassic Park? The T. Rex totally owns the two raptors! Case closed, man. Case closed.

        Yep, what he said.

        On the other hand:

        PS. Any idea how Chucky feels about these derails of ours on his totally-not-a-message-board-blog?

        Next time I see him, I’ll ask him.

      • dreameling says:

        But totally agreed on the “stand still and they won’t see you and you’ll be safe” thing. If this was true, I don’t think dinosaurs would have lasted fifty million years and needed an asteroid (and/or kaiju) to wipe them out. They would have just starved to death.

        The movement-based sight always seemed a bit odd. If the T. Rex literarily only sees moving things, how the hell does it not trip on every rock or bump into every tree?

        It was about which is cooler. And Imma go with the T-Rex again. I was going to use T-Rex originally but, I don’t know, for some reason Velociraptors are more “Internet”.

        Maybe if the Velociraptor had lasers shooting out of its eyes…

      • stchucky says:

        Maybe if the Velociraptor had lasers shooting out of its eyes…

        nObWeDon’tKnow: In the absence of fossil evidence one way or another and given the impracticality of proving a negative, I think it’s safe to assume they did.

      • stchucky says:

        On a personal note, this is about the fourth time I have seen you write “literarily”, is it some sort of pop culture message board / lit reference I’m missing? I mean, I know it’s a word but do you mean specifically that this is something that happens only in books? Or that the T-Rex is totally pedantic?

        http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/literarily?s=t

      • dreameling says:

        On a personal note, this is about the fourth time I have seen you write “literarily”, is it some sort of pop culture message board / lit reference I’m missing? I mean, I know it’s a word but do you mean specifically that this is something that happens only in books? Or that the T-Rex is totally pedantic?

        *disappears behind his desk in shame*

        *literally*

      • stchucky says:

        Man, I gave you an escape hatch and everything. You could still get away with “literarily”.

      • dreameling says:

        Man, I gave you an escape hatch and everything.

        I do have some integrittytitty.

  11. dreameling says:

    PS. Speaking of plausible time travel stories (and T. Rexes):

  12. aaronthepatriot says:

    dreameling:
    “But you can override the login default or change it later?”

    Oh definitely, just warning you…many people end up in the “ladder” leagues by mistake at login. Well, character creation, technically.

    “Any documentation I should look at before I start the game, or are the in-game tutorials enough?”

    In-game tut—hahaha you’re funny! In-game tutorials…. Man, keep ’em coming. That was a good one!

    And, speaking of “one”, there is in fact one in-game tutorial. It’s at the beginning, it’s one pop-up, and it’s like the most obvious thing evar. LOLZ

    But no, you shouldn’t have to look at anything, although:

    “Btw., this looks fucking insane:

    http://www.pathofexile.com/passive-skill-tree

    1350 passive skills?!?!?!?!?!?!?”

    Hell yeah. It’s actually really awesome. I think it means you can play a non-serious approach for fun, but still have some ability to plan leveling ahead and think in-depth about a character if you want.

    You can pretty much go with what looks logical, level by level, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

    “(But I like that they have an online app for planning character builds.)”

    Indeed! When I couldn’t play, sometimes, early on when I had the game, I enjoyed using that very much to plan/reminisce!

    And it’s a good sign that you like the tool, because if the tool had no impact on you, then you’re probably going to hate this game (because of the tree).

    ‘Except you guys are crazy about velociraptors vs. T-Rex. Need I remind you, the whole THING with velociraptors is those clever sonsabitches can SEE you even when you don’t move?’

    “Don’t you remember the ending of Jurassic Park? The T. Rex totally owns the two raptors! Case closed, man. Case closed.”

    Pssh! You can’t trust what you see in movies! Everybody knows that!

    …err….

    PS. Any idea how Chucky feels about these derails of ours on his totally-not-a-message-board-blog?

    OK if you do get in to the game and have any questions, or want to hear more about Hearthstone, or otherwise don’t want to irritate Chucky with this crap anymore, my email is gmail. “ahstenor”

    My username in the quotes. There I think that’s disassociated enough that I won’t get spammed for it. Because, you know, spammers are all over Chucky’s blog looking to get info on all of his many, many readers.

    *consipiratorial wink*

    • stchucky says:

      Among spambots, Hatboy’s Hatstand is known as “The Cherry”.

    • dreameling says:

      In-game tut—hahaha you’re funny! In-game tutorials…. Man, keep ‘em coming. That was a good one!

      Honestly, I don’t know why I even asked that. 🙂 I normally skip tutorials or play through them as fast as possible or disable tutorial texts or whatever, if possible. I guess what I wanted to know is how easy it is to go wrong with your character build in the beginning and whether you really need to plan ahead. But you kinda answered that. So it’s all good.

  13. aaronthepatriot says:

    ‘Among spambots, Hatboy’s Hatstand is known as “The Cherry”.’

    “I could stand to hear a little more.

    *significant pop-culture glance*”

    I will re-emphasize my desire to hear no more, hear no more…and will add, for example, if this has anything to do with “coming in like a wrecking ball”, I will quit this popsickle stand toot sweet.

    Yes, I am aware I misspelled the French, dreameling-o-mio, feel expensive/jailed to correct me.

    OK leaving before the collective puns and corny humor reaches critical mass.

    -Aaron

    • dreameling says:

      I don’t speak French, so I don’t care. (You have to imagine that with a French accent and attitude.)

      I was actually going for this:

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        OMFG I have GOT to keep watching Firefly, LMAO. Oh, the imagery. Thank you for that, Joss Wheden AND dreameling!

      • stchucky says:

        Hee, oh yes.

        I believe this was from the series-wrapping-up Serenity movie, just in case you were going to watch the rest of the episodes waiting for this beautiful moment and thus enjoy them a little less.

      • dreameling says:

        Yeah, this was Serenity. And apologies, forgot that this might be spoiler territory! Must be more careful. (Luckily, that clip only spoils the status of Kaylee’s nethers at some indeterminate time.)

  14. “Yeah, this was Serenity. And apologies, forgot that this might be spoiler territory! Must be more careful. (Luckily, that clip only spoils the status of Kaylee’s nethers at some indeterminate time.)”

    Wait so all of those characters live to the end of Firefly? You spoiled that they didn’t kill…any! You bastard!

  15. Wow! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a completely different subject but it has pretty much
    the same page layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

  16. Pingback: Sunday Randoms | Hatboy's Hatstand

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