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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest Post: Alex Scarrow Author of Timeriders & Ellie Quin

Image of Alex ScarrowEllo guys! This is probably the first time I've allowed anyone to write on my blog- but here goes! A two part guest post written by Alex Scarrow! Part one of this guest post includes an exclusive TimeRiders Extra! The Guidelines for the secretive TimeRiders Agency. This is followed by part two which contains some writing tips on how to write your own time travel novel/story! Let's get started shall we?

Part One; TimeRiders Agency Guidelines -Alex
Rules of conduct:
Cotamination Awareness:
Operatives must remain aware of the constant danger of affecting the timeline. The smallest alteration of the past can lead to a substantial and hazardous change to the present. Every possible measure must be taken to avoid this. The following guidelines are designed to minimize potential risk.

1. Clothing: when going back in time it is important to be wearing clothing that fits into the given time periof. If suitable clothing can not be obtained prior to entering the time portal, then the operative must travel back with no clothing at all and must attempt to locate suitable atire in the target location.
2. Language: it is important that the operative can communicate with people in the target location. The operative should familiarise themselves with period nuances of the language. If the operative is unable to speak the target langua
ge, translator buds can be fitted in the ear. It should be stated that the translation AI may sometimes struggle with localised phrases or idioms, or extreme accents.

3. Knowledge: it is important that the operative is suitably briefed on the period of history he/shill be visiting. This includes knowledge of the political, economic and social situation. The accompanying Support Unit can also be utilized as a portable information base.
4. Interactions: the operative should restrict any actions to only those that lead towards correcting a contaminated timeline. As such, an operative should always look for the most mininal action to perform towards this end.
5. Outbound: any displacement window should be targetted at locations that are remote and unobserved. Research the location extensively before opening a displacement window using maps, documents and illustrations from the given time. The field ofice has an extensive database for this purpose. In some cases there will be insufficient research materials to review. It is possible to open a very small window in the past and 'remote view' the immediate surroundings.
6. Return: the return window will usually be in the same location as the outbound window. The operative should clarify with the team strategist WHEN the return window is to be opened. The window should remain open for only very short periods so it is important for both operative and strategist to have synchronised time pieces and agreement on when the window will be opened. A back up window time should also be agreed. Typically this would be one hour later, one day later and one week later, in case the operative is delayed by unforseen events.

Part Two: Alex Scarrow's Time Travel writing tips!

Imagining a world that could have existed if some key moment in history had gone just a little bit differently, is what historians do for fun. And, good grief, it is fun. It’s a bit like the building of a fantasy or science fiction world in which to set a story. Like running a gigantic simulation in your mind and envisaging the results.
For the purposes of creating a great setting for a story, I think you don’t have to beat yourself up too much in aiming for the MOST plausible alternate world. Quite often the most plausible alternate world ends up drifting toward the world that we know. It’s as if history really does have a “preferred” course it wants to take.
For example, if the Roman Empire had not fallen when it did, it might have collapsed just as easily half a century or a century later as migratory pressures from the east pushed ever-increasing swarms of barbarians up against the weakening thin red line of the Roman Empire’s far-flung borders. Fact is, It was gonna happen sooner or later.
Or if Germany had won the war in 1945, surely the Russians would have become an ungovernable part of the Third Reich eventually, a Vietnam-like drain on resources and men that would ultimately weaken them dangerously, perhaps leading to a later war in which Russian tanks would inevitably have rolled into Berlin. See? Same result in the long run.
For a great story you want a hugely different world, a world that offers you as much of a chance as possible to imagine wonderful new creations, new inventions, architectural marvels; something to truly astound your reader—you have to stretch plausibility sometimes, just a little.
For example, in the fourth TimeRiders book, I imagine a world in which the American Civil War never ended. It just rumbles on and on into the present day, and the ruins of New York look like Stalingrad! A landscape of foxholes and trenches, bunkers and craters, and the skies overhead filled with enormous zeppelin-like aircraft carriers! And all this simply because a certain unemployed young riverboat worker named Abraham Lincoln stepped in the path of a lumbering runaway brewery cart! I make a superficially plausible case that only Lincoln’s strength of character, the determination to hold the northern union together, was what ultimately led the North to victory.
In truth, though, a proper historian would argue that the industrial might of the North, the sheer economic muscle of the northern states versus the weaker agrarian economy of the Confederate States, made the outcome an inevitable victory for the North. A proper historian would also argue that Abraham Lincoln’s boots would probably have been filled with another equally strong-willed Republican president, determined to fight the South and reunite America . . . and we would still have a Civil War that ended around 1865.
But come on, now where’s the fun in that?
Thanks Alex, for visiting The Book Gazer! Best of luck ;)

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