Posts Tagged ‘Future’

Date Published: 10/10/17
Publisher: DSP Publications
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Some stories are epic.
The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.
Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.
From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.
Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.
Book One of Liminal Sky

“DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.
Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.
“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.
“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.
He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.
All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.
At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.
The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.
“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.
The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.
“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”
The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.
Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”
A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.
“Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.
Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.
He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.
All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.
We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.
About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.
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Time travelling, whether to the past or future, has been a part of genre fiction since the beginning. Writers have speculated on the ways and means of time travelling, but how many have delved into the ethical issues of time travel. Just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we always should.

Assuming we can travel into the past, we have to accept the fact that we will change something just by being there. The simplest act of breathing the air can have unforeseen consequences (and don’t get me started about those damn butterflies). The traditional tale of time travel (as found in Moore’s Bring the Jubilee) tells us that changing something in the past will change our present. With that in mind, let’s say you go back in time to kill Hitler. You are successful and he never commits his horrible acts of genocide. Since there was no Hitler, however, you have no reason then to go back in time to kill him and thus he gets the change to commit those acts again causing you to go back in time…and my nose is bleeding.

FF CoverThis is called a “paradox” and for a lot of franchises (such as Doctor Who) this can have disastrous consequences for everyone involved, from the physical destruction of a certain area to the end of existence itself. Getting around this illogical loop has plagued writers in the past, but the two solutions I always enjoyed are the multiverse theory and the fixed timeline. The multiverse theory suggests there are an infinite number of parallel universes so similar to one another that travelling to different points on them is almost the equivalent as travelling into the past. This theory has been used in various works including mainstream books such as Crichton’s Timeline and has even been used as a means of getting around the pesky light-speed barrier, such as in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

Nevertheless, is it right for a time travel to prevent the natural course of time for their own selfish desires? Consider that at least three timeline can be altered by a single time traveler. First, there is the timeline the traveler abandoned, second, there is the timeline they altered and, finally, there is the timeline they arrived in that conforms to their expected (or not) outcome of their change. That means the first timeline is full of the people the traveler abandoned and will not benefit from the traveler’s escapades in the multiverse. The second timeline, meanwhile, acts only as a vehicle to allow the traveler his intended goal and will have the suffer the consequences of the traveler’s meddling without them. The third and final timeline is the least affected, despite now being the home of someone who is already willing to play games with the universe. Some might wonder why this is bad thing, especially if the traveler had good intentions (which Hell uses to build their roads). The problem is that the definition of “good” is a matter of opinion. Can you think of no one who might create a nightmare and call it good?

Such issues are avoided if we exist upon a fixed timeline. That means everything that will happen, has happened and will always happen. No matter what you do it past, you will just allow the script to play out. One of my favorite examples of a fixed timeline can be found in Red vs. Blue when a character goes back in time and tries to prevent all the bad things that happened to him with hilarious results. Such a temporal structure is perfect for time tourism stories, but issues arise when certain historical events need to be caused by a time traveler. Here is an extreme example: a serial killer wants to go back in time to London circa 1888 and kill a bunch of prostitutes. If it turns out he is actually the one who committed those crimes, should we just let him do it again? Should we try to stop him even if logic tells us he will get there eventually? And what happens after he comes back? Can he be prosecuted when his defense can be he was just doing what was going to happen anyway?

I’m not even going to touch the implications a fixed timeline has for free will, although it might just conform what many have expected all along.

Travelling to the future is a bit easier (and even some scientists feel it is the only way to travel). Temporal paradoxes aren’t usually an issue unless it is a time traveler from the future mucking about in our present. In fact, time travel to the future tends to be very fluid in fiction. The belief that the future is what we make of it runs strong even in our regular day to day life. Human free will thus acts to prevent the future from solidifying, although one can assume that events a couple years into the future can be predicted more accurately than one hundred years in the future. Don’t think, however, that you still can’t screw up the present by just going forward instead of backwards.

Consider what is, at least in my opinion, the ultimate use of time travel to the future: preventing catastrophe. There is a lot of evidence to show that the 21st century is going to be a tough era for humanity. Still it is only just speculation or educated guesses, but to have actual proof that we are headed for disaster unless we change our ways…would you feel compelled to do everything in your power to prevent it from happening? Should you even get involved knowing that you could be altering humanity’s natural development? And what if you only saw just one of many possible futures? By freaking out about could you set of a wave of panic that could inadvertently cause the very future you were trying to avoid? It is entirely possible that the fixed timeline phenomenon can work both ways.

If you don’t mind some shameless self-promotion, I pondered those very same ideas in my most recent short story “Road Trip”. It tells the tale of four friends heading toward a college party until they take an unexpected detour in to the future. It is currently available in the anthology Forbidden Future: A Time Travel Anthology. I hope you check it out, but in the meantime, what other issues must a time traveler consider when exploring the past or future?

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