Monday, February 15, 2010

A Rumpus Worthy of Steampunk Goggles

Geez...take a vacay for Love Fest and all things time travel pile up. Strap yourself in Wellsey's red velvet chair, people. Brass goggles optional.

First, book news!

The Ether by Ken Decato

"Sheldon resident Cy Hill always knew there was something peculiar about the forested areas around his small town. For years, people in the wrong place at the wrong time went missing becoming victims of "the eddies," a seemingly otherworldly phenomenon, capturing and carrying away anyone who may accidently be in their path to another time. When Cy is all of a sudden raising the dog of Dave Boudreau, his friend and a local who went missing a few years previously, he enlists the help of Lexi to find him by learning to use the eddies to put a stop to this time anomaly. Cy urges Dave's lost love, Annie, to keep hope alive, while he and Lexi work to right a few injustices from the past and future." (

From Publisher's Weekly (Deals 2/8/10):

Kelly Sonnack at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency sold North American rights, in a pre-empt, to a debut YA novel called A Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan. Andrea Tompa at Candlewick acquired the book, which Sonnack called a “young adult version of The Time Traveler's Wife” and which has been drawing intense interest in Europe, with a five-way bidding war on the novel just closed in Germany. Set in the future, the book follows a princess who must deal with the unfortunate fallout—including a lost love—of her parents' decision to intermittently halt her adolescence by cryogenically freezing her; the plan is their misdirected attempt to ensure their jet-set lifestyle doesn't leave their daughter a latch-key kid.

I'm questioning the motivation here, but I have faith in my fellow fictional time travel sisters and brothers. I can't wait to read them both.

On the scientific side of the phone booth:

We all know that emotions affect our mind's ability to perceive time, thus the adage "time flies when you're watching shirtless Sawyer" (or something like that). Researchers at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota conducted an experiment of this premise in reverse. By speeding up or slowing down the suggestion of an individual's time passage in a controlled environment, scientists were able to influence participant's feelings, essentially how they'd rate the awesomeness of the task. Here is their advice for making time fly:

1. Remove all time cues (clocks, watches, your annoying roomate that whines "Are you done yet?")

2. Drink coffee, tea or other stimulants. Apparently, the high you feel on a non-fat grande double expresso tricks your mind into a Limbo competition with Harlequin cover models halfway through your ten o'clock staff meeting.

3. Allow yourself to become absorbed in what you're doing. Ah, so this explains how I can spend six hours on a ten story-minute scene. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this. Please.

My Rock Star of Time Travel this week (who knew there were so many?) is Caltech theoretical physicist Sean Carroll. Not only does his deep, abiding love for Lost theories make my heart pitter patter, but he has some amazing advice for writers trying to tackle time travel in a believable way. Oh, and for accomplishing the incredible time travel-ish task of occupying two corners of cyberspace at one time, Mr. Carroll, will you sign Wellsy's time machine? It's parked in the foyer.

Mr. Carroll had some stiff competition though. Dick Bond, a University of Toronto cosmologist and physics professor, enlightened me on the "inflation" portion of the Big Bang theory in which we quite possibly occupy one universe "bubble" in a much larger, as yet unseen, landscape. Time between bubbles, it is theorized by some, might be related. James Brown (hot stuff, very very hot), a U of T philosophy professor expounded on the block theory of past, present and future in which all three are considered real, fixed and unchangeable. Lee Smolin, a physicist with the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario then jumped into the panel rumpus by declaring both Dick Bond and James Brown (ha!)'s theories to be flawed and postulated that nothing is, in fact, timeless, especially nature's laws and Joan Rivers's face. Truly where the Wild Things were this week.

Overloaded on time travel? Good. I live to serve. Tell us the last place/activity where time flew by for you...


the walking man said...

I remember being born, laying there on the wet sheets, then being picked up by an ankle and slapped on the butt (it was a more brutal time way back then) and next thing I know it's decades later and I still haven't learned how to shave. My how the time has flown by.

Regina Richards said...

One place/activity where time flew for me this past week...

Listening to the PBS show Justice (Harvard Law Prof re-argues/muses on/discusses obsure but landmark Supreme Court cases with his students) while playing free cell. Just to be clear: that's me playing free cell, not the Law Prof.

And no, I'm not a geek. I'm a geek wanna be.

Romulus Crowe said...

I've often glanced up at the clock and it's been midnight, then glanced up moments later and it's 4 am. My espresso habit is probably responsible. Perhaps I shouldn't have bought that machine after all.

There was a theory, years ago, that space-time is a 'pencil of conics' - a particular arrangement of lines. If true, there are four 'nodes' in such an arrangement where all the lines intersect, and which would be all times and all locations in space simultaneously.

If you could get to one of the nodes, you could emerge at any point in space or time you liked.

Assuming your mind could cope with the experience of everywhere and everywhen simultaneously, of course!

Sandra Ferguson said...

The last 22 years. I don't remember being born . . . sorry, Walking Man, just not that cognizant.

However, I can certainly remember giving birth almost 22 years ago. Not the pain, okay, that blocking it out stuff really does work, but holding my daughter in my arms the first time.

Back then recovery was still a separate room and they didn't let family and crew crowd a new mom -- it's was just baby and me. I couldn't even figure out how to open all the swaddling cloths so I could count fingers and toes -- something my hubby had towered over the delivery nurses' shoulders to perform for his own satisfaction. However, I wanted to see the bundle of joy myself.

The recovery nurse peeled away what seemed to be mountains of covers and at last there were those ten little digits I needed to see. To gently brush my fingers against her palm and instantly be gripped by the tiniest fingers. To watch perfectly formed legs stretch now free of constraints and to wait for, then experience the thrill of her eyes meeting mine.

Yep, I'm sure that was yesterday. Couldn't be longer than that.

Todd Wheeler said...

Overloaded for sure. I'm wondering where the heck this morning went to.