The Myconet, Part 32

It was another dank and musty basement-cellar space-time junction, this one with a floor of what felt like uneven paving stones or wide chunks of cement, generously interspersed with damp gravel. The wall, when I groped my way to it, was formed of well-worn and slightly-clammy planks, like the one underneath the L&E tower lost and found.

I fumbled along the smooth, sweaty-feeling boards, not finding a door before I reached a corner – and there I stopped.

Great.

This corner wasn’t an inwards-turning corner, like you would expect to find in a nice manageable boxed-in room like the other cellars I’d climbed into – like, indeed, I’d come to expect from the previous time-travel rooms I’d walked through during the course of what I will whimsically call that day.

No. It turned outwards, as though opening into a larger chamber or turning away into a corridor, or … well, it could be doing pretty much anything, because I couldn’t see a damn thing.

I realised that at this point I really, really needed a light, so I fumbled my way back to the little square of illumination that was filtering through the edges of the trapdoor in the ceiling, climbed back up into the department store, and ascended to the floors where they were actually selling things.

I bought a big neon-tube flashlight, and a pile of batteries. I could have taken them downstairs and used them without actually passing a cash register, but I told myself that I couldn’t really justify that by saying I wasn’t going to be leaving the department store. I would in all likelihood be leaving, if not through space then at least through time. The ethics of theft become murky if you start time-travelling to periods before the theft took place – what I was technically doing in that case was duplicating the products – but when in doubt it was best to err on the side of morality. Usually.

It also paid to not really think about things like time-travel-related matter duplication, so doing what came easily and caused the least amount of self-reflection was basically a good idea, on a quantum-observation level. Indeed, in this specific case if the store had sold a swift kick in the pants for not taking care of this shit sooner, I would have bought one of those for myself as well.

Purcases in hand I went back downstairs to the Prism, knelt for a moment to set up the torch and make sure it worked, opened the trapdoor, went back down the ladder-stairs thing, and turned the torch on.

“Right,” I said, raising the torch and looking around the cellar in the harsh blue-white neon light. “This complicates things.”

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Creepy and Hatboy Save the World and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Myconet, Part 32

  1. dreameling says:

    Is it really duplicating if there’s a single timeline/loop and the original eventually disappers back in time, leaving the “duplicate” as the only copy (meaning it was always already the original anyway)?

    • stchucky says:

      Well! Excellent question.

      How about a little thought experiment? Imagine you go to a museum, the day before it burns down. You steal a 3,000-year-old golden idol that would otherwise be destroyed.

      Time-travel back to the day the idol was made. Now there are two, at least until the original is destroyed at some point … unless …

      Repeat, starting at a couple of seconds / hours before you took the first one. Now there are three, unless taking it a second time deletes the one you have in your hands.

      So either way, if you take the future version back acrosss its own timeline, you do have two, just like you had two Bruce Willises in Looper, and never mind one eventually disappears anywhere, you still have duplicates overlapping for a while (in the case of the idol you took, there are actually two of them for thousands of years). In a universe with a set amount of matter in it. Not good.

      • dreameling says:

        Repeat, starting at a couple of seconds / hours before you took the first one. Now there are three, unless taking it a second time deletes the one you have in your hands.

        Depends entirely on how time and time travel work in the story world. But, for me, the only logical alternative is that you cannot take the idol a second time, since it needs to be there for the first time, unless the idol is returned before the first time takes place. Whatever you do must remain causally consistent with whatever you did before. Single closed loop.

        For me, all other alternatives are silly popcorn storytelling logic. But this is entirely a personal preference. Not judging stories that treat time travel differently as unworthy or anything. You can refer back to that discussion we had a while back about consistent single-timeline loops.

        So either way, if you take the future version back across its own timeline, you do have two, just like you had two Bruce Willises in Looper, and never mind one eventually disappears anywhere, you still have duplicates overlapping for a while (in the case of the idol you took, there are actually two of them for thousands of years).

        You had two Bruces, yes, but they were the same Bruce, so not really duplicates. This is semantics, but a duplicate to me is a copy, and there’s no copying going on here.

        In a universe with a set amount of matter in it. Not good.

        If you factor in time as the fourth dimension, then there’s no problem. The amount of matter within that 4-dimensional volume of a universe remains constant, even if some of it loops back and self-coexists for a while along the fourth axis.

      • stchucky says:

        Very good points. So if you take the new-made idol, presumably at some point in the intervening thousands of years it will wind up back in that museum for you to take the old one.

        Equally, you can melt down the old idol to make coins, so you then have the new-made idol and some gold coins. And yes, I would say you could steal the idol a second time, but only if you returned the idol at some point in the future, then time-travelled to that point and stole it again. And then you enter Bill & Ted “gonna have to remember to do that, dude” territory.

        But if you make coins from the new-made idol, then the old idol will vanish. Indeed, if you make coins out of any version of the idol from previously in its timeline to the one you stole, then that one will vanish.

        In the same way, in fact, as the scar tissue, and the vanishing limbs in Looper. So.

        Yes. Sort-of-kind-of duplication, but in a “ho ho ho, leprechaun gold” sort of way that means you don’t really have all the duplicates you thought you did.

        Still not something you want to mess around with.

        As for how time travel works in the story I’m currently writing … well who the fuck knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

      • stchucky says:

        Point of irritation: I can write the [em] and [/em] tags (imagine pointy brackets) in my normal responses to make italics, but the [u] and [/u] tags don’t work when I try to make underline. They only work if I go into my admin settings and edit the comment in the HTML UI. Then I get my underlines fromn the inserted tags.

        Why can’t it work in the WYSIWYG UI? That, like time travel, is a mystery. Maybe it works sometime in the future, but only by stealing the tags from the present. Or something.

      • stchucky says:

        Additional science: The Futurama Doom Field. Any time-travel duplicate is doomed.

      • dreameling says:

        Equally, you can melt down the old idol to make coins, so you then have the new-made idol and some gold coins. But if you make coins from the new-made idol, then the old idol will vanish.

        I’m assuming the new-made idol is the one you take second in your chronology (your second visit to the museum) but the one that is stolen first in real world chronology? In that case, yes, as long as it stays intact and eventually ends back in the museum to become the old idol you then steal again for the first time, it’s all kosher. But I really dislike this “vanishing” stuff. No place for it in my ideal closed-loop time travels.

        In the same way, in fact, as the scar tissue, and the vanishing limbs in Looper. So.

        Yeah, the movie used the silly “vanishing” logic for timeline changes. Didn’t like that part. Didn’t we discuss this too at length at some point? Been a while since I’ve seen the movie.

        As for how time travel works in the story I’m currently writing … well who the fuck knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

        But… YOU’RE THE AUTHOR!?

      • stchucky says:

        I’m assuming the new-made idol is the one you take second in your chronology (your second visit to the museum) but the one that is stolen first in real world chronology? In that case, yes, as long as it stays intact and eventually ends back in the museum to become the old idol you then steal again for the first time, it’s all kosher. But I really dislike this “vanishing” stuff. No place for it in my ideal closed-loop time travels.

        No, the new-made one is literally the new-made idol, you take the old one from the museum and then go back in time to the day the idol was made, and take the new one that was just made. Like I thought I’d said in my initial thought experiment.

        But yeah. That was just to create the optimal amount of time in which you have “two” idols.

        Yeah, the movie used the silly “vanishing” logic for timeline changes. Didn’t like that part. Didn’t we discuss this too at length at some point? Been a while since I’ve seen the movie.

        I remember discussing it, but I’m still surprised you didn’t like that. It’s starting to come back to me that I thought it was bullshit you didn’t like it the first time, either…

        Oh right, here it is.

        Still don’t see why that wouldn’t happen. And doesn’t it solve the issue you’ve got this time? You’re so fucking inconsistent, man.

        As for how time travel works in the story I’m currently writing … well who the fuck knows? Not me, that’s for sure.

        But… YOU’RE THE AUTHOR!?

        Ah, the author paradox in a nutshell.

        *sips brandy*

        *gets fired … again*

        Gotta stop sipping brandy in the office.

      • dreameling says:

        No, the new-made one is literally the new-made idol, you take the old one from the museum and then go back in time to the day the idol was made, and take the new one that was just made. Like I thought I’d said in my initial thought experiment.

        I understood it differently the first time. You never said that you steal the new-made one in the past. If you do that, it still needs to end up in the museum for you to steal it a second time (just before the first time). But I don’t think this changes any of the points made. Whether you take the new-made one in the past or just before you steal the old one doesn’t really matter. The new-made one still needs to end up as the old one in the present for your first theft. If you want a consistent timeline.

        I remember discussing it, but I’m still surprised you didn’t like that. It’s starting to come back to me that I thought it was bullshit you didn’t like it the first time, either…

        Oh right, here it is.

        Still don’t see why that wouldn’t happen. And doesn’t it solve the issue you’ve got this time? You’re so fucking inconsistent, man.

        No. I’m being superbly consistent in my dislike. I didn’t like real-time vanishing then, and I don’t like it now. Here’s the past me:

        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!

        That’s just fucking beautifully explained.

        And holy crap that was a long and good discussion way back.

        To repeat, the “everything-has-always-already-happened no-fucking-vanishings closed-loop single-deterministic-timeline” school of time travel logic is my favorite. Because it makes the most sense to me. But I’m perfectly capable of enjoying other schools as well, like in Looper, Back to the Future, Star Trek, Stargate, and so on.

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah, I did only say “Time-travel back to the day the idol was made. Now there are two, at least until the original is destroyed at some point…”

        I shouldn’t have overcomplicated things with the second theft, the “at the moment of creation” theft was implied by the “now you have two”. I just wanted to illustrate the possible multiple duplications. But yeah, they still depend on you leaving a penny to take a penny, so to speak.

        And yeah, the whole thing is coming back to me now. It wasn’t your inconsistency that bothered me, it was your mind-numbingly boring time travel view that didn’t intersect with any fun time travel story ever. That’s what it was!

        *giggle*

      • dreameling says:

        And yeah, the whole thing is coming back to me now. It wasn’t your inconsistency that bothered me, it was your obviously superior intelligence and far more refined taste in time travel fiction. And you weren’t inconsistent at all.

        Yeah, I get that a lot. Hate the game, not the player.

        :p

      • stchucky says:

        Hey, I did say it was that viewpoint that I didn’t like. I didn’t say you were boring. You’re clearly not. I mean look at that seventy-something-post thread about time travel! And I’m considering re-reading it!

      • dreameling says:

        Gah. Did you miss the blockquote!?

      • stchucky says:

        No, I just responded to the blockquote of what I actually said, not what you rewrote me saying.

        But now I’m worried that in ignoring the bit you made up, I’ve possibly risked its hilarity being diluted somehow.

      • dreameling says:

        Indeed!

        Well, fine, I thought it was funny. I knew you were not saying I was boring etc.

      • stchucky says:

        I would never. Crybaby malcontent Star Wars fanboy, yes. But boring? No!

      • stchucky says:

        Seriously though, that thread was a lot of fun, have to re-read it sometime.

        What do you think happens? It looks like you have two idols, but have to return it for your future self to steal … if you don’t, then you never did?

      • dreameling says:

        Yeah. If you’re able to steal the idol a second time, temporally before you steal it the first time, then things necessarily work themselves out so that the idol ends up back in the museum for you to steal it for the first time. You cannot cancel out something you’ve already done.

      • dreameling says:

        But I get that that type of time travel logic puts a lot of constraints on the story. And also suggests a deterministic story world that’s not necessarily fun for storytelling or character development purposes.

        But you can still get a lot of great dramatic mileage out of it. Depends on how you work it. Recent case in point: Dirk Gently.

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah, there’s a lot of mileage to be found in time travellers who don’t realise they’ve time travelled.

        In my urverse, of course, time travellers usually fall afoul of the Vultures. Hatboy better watch out.

      • dreameling says:

        Still waiting for the big connection…

        Weren’t the Vultures gone in TFFoM? Hatboy’s present maps to the distant past of the TFFoM verse?

      • stchucky says:

        The connect should be obvious with the short story anthology. Not sure.

        And the Vultures are around. They were just on the other side of the veil … although I think they could pierce it if they needed to.

      • dreameling says:

        Hey, you went and edited! (Yes. I corrected your “equally”, too.)

      • stchucky says:

        I edited, and added a few lines. Sorry. Didn’t think you’d read it so immediately. Hope my second version was clearer. I’ll stop editing now.

        OR WILL I?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s