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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Ideas Writing for Speculative Fiction/Alternative History Genre

One of my many writing ideas falls under the Speculative Fiction category, particularly the Alternative History genre. In the field of writing, and the arts in general, original ideas are important to find your niche and reader base. I learned early on, in my quest to become an artist, that there is a blurry and tricky line to originality and plagiarism. In both my art classes and creative writing classes I was taught that there is a practice called artistic licence. What this basically means is that an artist can use various types of works or ideas from others, but change things to create a unique work. The same applies to the alternative history genre of writing, whereby an author is using the factual real-world events or timelines and persons, but changes the course of history as we know it, to create an alternate universe of their creation.

An idea I have been fleshing out involves time travel, alternate realities, and corporate global take over. My inspiration comes greatly from the movies Timeline and Time Cop, and from watching an episode on the t.v. show the Universe, which talked about a branch of science called string theory.

The movie Timeline, based on the novel by Crichton, was about archaeologists on a site from the middle ages who discovers one of their own has vanished. Strangely they discover his eye-glasses and a note which carbon dates to the middle ages, but how-in-the-world could it have gotten there? Turns out a supporter of the dig is a company that has been working on time travel. The story sees the characters traveling back in time to see and experience the lives and the events surrounding the importance of the dig, with great thought to not changing history, or being stuck in the past.

Time Cop is a lot more sci-fi-ish, dealing with a police order who gos back in time to stop criminals who have traveled back to take advantage of particular eras to get rich or try and change history. There is involved a corporation who wants to exclusively own the rights and use of time travel, and some crooked up-and-coming politician. The basic premise here is changing history for the greed of power and money in corporate and government politics.  

String theory says that you cannot actually change our own time by going back and making changes. It is based on the theory that there exists multiple and alternative universes of our own world. Basically everything we do sets in motion the future, and to have done things differently creates an alternative and parallel world. For instance, if we could go back in time and somehow not have voted for Obama, and came back home to our own time, Obama would still be the President, but in that past time-world we visited to prevent his election, he is not the President, and a new alternative world was created and is being lived out in sync with ours. Supposedly there are near infinite strings alongside our own world-reality, ever splintering as we make day-to-day choices and think, what if ?

In the comic book world there has been a whole series of What If? alternate realities. In shows like Stargate the heroes have often visited alternate realities where things are either for the better or is a pretty interesting and complex concept- time travel and alternate histories. 

Without title, fleshed out characters, or even a true outline for the making of a story, I have been toying with these concepts for such a book. My take on it involves the research and development for the means of time travel some years back, and unbeknown to the public, people have been going back in time for decades. It is discovered through these experiments, that time never changes here for us, no matter where we go or what we do, things still remain the same here. Unfortunately for other alternative worlds we visit, things change a lot, and higher-powers with less than altruistic motives have been using time-travel and these alternate worlds as their personal playgrounds.

Imagine a corporation, government, or multiple entities, with the power of time travel; and though our world is relatively safe from having our histories and lives changed when we wake up one morning (but never realize it), what would be the ethical ramifications of changing history and the lives of our alternative selves? Though we could not change our own world by going back in time, what if we could go back and set into motion certain events to study the outcome, and apply those findings to our own world? Could we go back knowing when, how, why the economy became as it was, and make changes to see if it fixes our problems as they are, like a lab test with multiple rats and a control group, other alternate worlds could be our own testing lab. Are these "other" people even really real? Is it akin to playing God? If it saves lives and makes our world for the better, does it make it right, being that these alternative time lines and people are really us? I don't know, but I'd like to explore the idea. 

Imagine too, being able to go back in time as a historian or archaeologist to see first hand how things really were, imagine what we could learn. I could also envision some sort of tourism in time travel; how much would people pay to visit other eras, experience past cultures, live as a king or general in a war? After all anything is possible.

So I'm thinking for my story, a corporation and/or the government is using this technology to test advancement of products and technologies, and to "time-test" the changing of events for use back here in our own "ground-zero" world. It has been a secret for many years, but some how the technology and practices has been leaked to a select group of individuals, and it is threatened to be divulged to the public. "They" wouldn't want to allow that! I toy with ideas of a very selective and wealthy group who offer time-travel journey licenses for small fortunes, by which groups and individuals can act out, in real life, but in an alternate reality, being a conquering king, a victorious general in war, or some savvy financier who bankrupts an entire nation or even the world to apply financial theories as to how to make trillions in our own world. I too think of a group of people, who with knowledge of this technology and the practices, also go back in time to apprehend these meddlers of time, and who fight for the cause of justice for the poor people who are victims of our own worlds lusts for power and riches.

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