So, the major conceit in the book is that one character jumps forward in time 150 years, fucks up his kid real bad, and then jumps back in time 150 years to have his revenge on the people he thinks didn’t behave as they should have after he fucked up his first family.
At New Year’s, my dad announces that time travel is stupid and not possible, because you can’t exist in a time in which you don’t exist. I tried to argue that once you exist in that time, then you exist in that time, no matter how you got there, but he wasn’t buying it.
But here’s how I’ve been thinking of it. It’s not really a time machine in my manuscript. It’s a much more crude mechanism. You approach a doorway with a certain key. That key opens the door between the time you’re standing in now and one set point a certain distance in the past or present–in other words, if you use that key, the door will open between the time you’re in and the time 150 years from now. Which means, technically, the door never opens on the same time. If I’m in 1867 and I open the door and I arrive in 1987 (which I guess is actually 120 years, but whatever), if I stay for 20 years, when I go back, it’s 1887. Sure, there may be a key that takes you back to 1867 from 2007, but let’s say that the keys aren’t clearly marked and you never know what’s on the other side of the door. So, the trial and error involved with finding the precise key that would bring you back to the moment from which you left would probably kill you before you found it.
I’ve been imagining it like winding a thick ribbon around a barber pole. The ribbon is time and when you are immersed in it, it appears to be moving forward. Or at least, you appear to be moving forward, through it. But, if you could step outside of it, you’d see that it’s actually moving in a spiral. Yes, the near future is directly ahead of you, but the rest of the future is above you. Same with the past. The recent past is directly behind you, but soon enough it turns and makes its way out of sight, and on beneath you.
So, to my way of thinking, time travel to the recent past or near future would be impossible. But what about the points of time that line up on the same side of the Great Spinning Barber Pole of the Universe? Instead of rolling along, facing into the future, which is on an almost imperceptible incline, you turned and made your way to a different coil and started facing into the future in that one for a time?
The line of your existence from within the timeline would appear broken. But to someone standing outside it, you would appear continuous.
That’s my working model at the moment.