Time-Travel and Of the North

   Of the North is my second foray into time-travel, and my first is remarkable only because the seed of a good idea that it had grew up in Of the North (it’s also remarkable for how poorly it’s written). I’m quite fond of anything to do with time, which is partly why I write historical fiction, because I’m fascinated with the way people from other times talked and lived and thought.
   I like time-travel because it allows for all kinds of exciting possibilities, though it brings up quite a few problems too. How to travel, for one thing. Tolkien did it well in the (unfinished) story The Lost Road. Suzannah Rowntree neatly avoids all kinds of questions raised by transporting characters between 1900s Gloucestershire and the Arthurian era by stretching a point and calling the places two different worlds (it works out very handily, both in terms of story and craft). I don’t like machines controlling Time. Time is one of those things God made, and machines are things people make. It doesn’t seem right that our work should control God’s, especially when God’s is on such a massive scale as Time. We’ve got what, six to ten thousand years piling up on us, and a little machine is going to affect that if you crank a handle or something?
   It’s a ring that does it, whatever it is, in Of the North. I prefer a little mystery around how the thing works myself, for the sake of telling a good story and not writing a speculative scientific treatise. Hence I never say much about the ring’s origins, or why it has the power to transport people from one time to another, or how it got to be that way. The only hint we get is that it is made in the pattern of an Anglo-Saxon find.
   It was originally a ring found in a dig, but that brought up too many problems. How did a ring with the power to time-travel end up buried in one particular time? Did its power to transport living things that wear it extend to buried skeletons? (Oh dear, now we get into what the difference is between living people and dead ones and whether it’s the soul and whether people have souls. . .) Did the person who started AEschild’s journey dig it up, give it to her, then she wore it, went back in time, was buried wearing it, her grave was dug up several centuries later, the ring taken, and given to her while she was still living in the twenty-first century, to then wear it and go back in time. . . repeating ad infinitum?* Questions like these are enough to give writers headaches, not to mention readers, who don’t have the sort of inside knowledge and ideas that, even though they may never get into the story as written, inform the way the writer looks at the story.
   There’s my thoughts on time-travel as it applies to this particular story. Since I haven’t written much about it, I haven’t thought through all the details. One theory which is tossed around a lot, involving someone preventing his own birth or killing himself, I don’t hold to because it’s logically impossible, more logically impossible than dead people coming back to life. Do you have thoughts of your own, gentle readers? How did the first day of NaNoWriMo go, for those who are doing it? (More than likely you won’t see this post for a week, right?)
*Historically that’s not too likely to happen, though it’s fun to consider, because after the Conversion Era people weren’t buried with grave goods, so she most likely would have passed the ring on to someone in her family.

About Nolie Alcarturiel

Creative Writing major and Philosophy minor, contemplating a Master's degree in Medieval History. I enjoy practically anything to do with medieval history, including the domestic arts, with an especial emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon Era. In my spare time I read endlessly, do medieval living-history, hold philosophical debates at the drop of a hat, and write books on even slighter provocation.
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7 Responses to Time-Travel and Of the North

  1. thegermangolux says:

    Redheads don’t have souls.

    Yeah, time travel is tough. I dislike serious attempts to dramatize it because of the butterfly effect – if a time traveler moves a stone out of place during the building of the pyramids, then he might not be born and Hitler would win World War Two. Time-travel stories that try to explain the physics usually end up swallowing themselves up in their own plotholes like amphisbaenas. ‘Of The North’ stays away from that, but I always flinch at the sound of time travel. (Sorry.) Better that it be magical, which Aeschild’s ring is, than some wonder of physics that contradicts itself and ends up being kinda magical anyway, like Doctor Who’s TARDIS. Oh, and I dislike people who put magic in their stories, but try to explain it scientifically, like Christopher Paolini. So you kept within most of my personal boundaries. If that matters at all.

    Incidentally, I don’t know that killing oneself through time travel is strictly illogical. It’s called the Bootstrap Paradox, and Doctor Who is well aware of its consequences.


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      I am not well aware of Doctor Who, though more than enough familiar with Paolini. Science and magic mix about as well as science and religion. The science always ends up blinding itself, and the magic or religion weak and watered down.

      A lot of Christians won’t read a story with magic in it, but that’s another topic for another post of its own.


      • thegermangolux says:

        Oh, that flips my burgers. With due respect to all who disagree – stories were meant to have magic. Stories are magic. Why it’s necessary for the Christian to oppose magic in stories I do not understand. But I would be happy to hear a good defense for the denial of fictional magic, not to mention one in favor of magic. *cough cough*

        Stories with a great emphasis on science are not good stories, right? You could probably safely say that. Many of my favorite stories involve scientific marvels, but they play a secondary role, and their workings are shrouded in mystery. But now we get into science fiction, a field I am totally unprepared to talk about.


  2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascending_and_Descending. This little link is how I think of time travel and the ramifications thereof.


    • thegermangolux says:

      A picture is worth a thousand words. But to put it in words, then – time travel is impossible, circular, and bootless.

      Escher is great. His pictures are worth 1,002 words.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Christine says:

    TIME TRAVEL. I looooove time travel! It’s such a fun (if not crazily confusing) concept to think about. I may spend an embarrassing amount of time thinking over all the crazy time travel theories and making sense of them and thinking of fun stories ideas and just…I LOVE TIME TRAVEL. It’s honestly one of the most fun things to play around with.

    I wrote the first book of a time travel trilogy and it’s still one of the most fun things I’ve ever written. I NEED to get back to that trilogy. I wrote it years ago and still to this day am constantly thinking up ridiculously confuzzling things to do with it. Fun stuff, fun stuff!

    I like you perspective of how it’s an insult to God to claim a mere man-made machine can control something as complex and deep as Time. That’s a very good point! In my story the time travel device works by using sand that can basically be found…in between time. It’s super complicated, just like the rest of the story. Lol.

    Okay, your ad infinitum idea for how the ring was found makes my time travel-loving heart happy. It’s so mind-boggling but ridiculously cool to think about! Time travel headaches are the best headaches. ;D

    ANYWAYS. I loved this post and reading about your thoughts on time travel! And as far as how NaNo is going, I’m having a BLAST! I hope it continues to go well for the rest of the month. ^_^


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