Why Time Travel, Wormholes, Parallel Universes & Alternate Dimensions
Just Makes Everything Cooler
By Colleen Houck
Seven layer cookie bars. Why, you might ask? There’s a simple answer. SEVEN LAYERS. Not only do you get the chocolate chip and peanut butter but there are usually fudge brownies, nuts, butterscotch, and whipped cream, too. Even salad, which I don’t normally like, just looks so much more interesting when placed in layers in a glass bowl.
I’ve always liked the idea of getting more. Advertisers really suck me in on the buy one get one free sales. At the video store this week they said if I rented five movies, I could get two extra for free so I walked out with seven. Of course, I’m not really interested in watching seven movies this weekend, but there was something very fulfilling about carrying out an armful of movies.
Now take my love for layered dishes, buffets, and shoe sales and multiply it exponentially and you’ll start to understand how I feel about books and shows that feature time travel, parallel universes, and so forth. What’s the connection, you might ask? Well, in a way, my cookie bar is very like an excellent television show and I’ll explain why.
Lost is a great example of time travel, wormholes, AND alternate realities. Many of my friends and family members gave up on the show because they had a difficult time following the various story paths, some of which, admittedly, led nowhere, but a few of them yielded up some very delicious possibilities that blew…my…mind.
What I enjoyed most about it was the fact that, just like my cookie bar, there were layers. On the surface, it might look like a simple story about the survivors of a plane crash, but as the show moved along, layer upon layer was peeled back, offering up succulent and tasty tidbits for the mind to feast upon.
Where would Star Trek and J.J. Abrams be without time travel and alternate dimensions? How could Spock have a conversation with Spock—an epic meeting that revealed so muchabout two versions of the same man living in different realities? How could J.J. literally rewrite the Trek universe, tell his own story, and get away with it, without time travel?
Within parallel universes, the rules change. Characters you know well and love can completely transform, giving the reader or viewer a fresh new take such as was seen in the classic Star Trek episode called Mirror, Mirror. In the D.C. comics Bizzaro World, Superman is evil, Lex Luthor is a hero, and Batman has a futility belt. Get it? Futility?
Alternate dimensions come in many forms. You can create a world between worlds like the one found in Alice In Wonderland or the land of Oz. There are a variety of ways to get there as well. You can travel through a crack at the bottom of the ocean like in Pacific Rim, or you can journey through the Bermuda triangle, or step through a wardrobe and into Narnia.
Alternate realities were explored in It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey got to see what the town and his family would be without him. Scrooge got a glimpse of a potential future he didn’t much care for and was able to change the outcome by changing himself.
Wormholes are used in Phillip Pullman’s, His Dark Materials, Madeleine L’Engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time, Carl Sagan’s, Contact, in Star Trek, and there was even an entire television series dedicated to wormholes called Sliders. The many Stargate shows were also based on wormholes.
Ah, and let’s not forget that Thor travels through them as well. In a case like that, I wouldn’t mind a wormhole being connected to my back yard. Actually, now that I think on it, I’d sacrifice even my kitchen for Chris Hemsworth. Perhaps I could entice him away from Natalie Portman with one of my seven layered cookie bars. (Making note to buy ingredients)
Now time travel opens up all kinds of story options. In Back to the Future, any little thing done in the past can change future relationships, affect character, and change the world. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and Hermione travel back in time to be able to hear or accomplish certain things they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise and the bonus is that we get to see them see themselves.
These various plot devices give new insights to character, open up worlds beyond the everyday, and enrich a story. This doesn’t mean it’s easy to do by any means. There’s sciency stuff involved, rules to be created and maintained, and an army of geeky science nerds who lie in wait ready to pierce your carefully constructed world through the heart with aforementioned sciency foam arrows. But, if it’s done right, then not only do endless story possibilities await but your readers will turn the last page and shout, “My…mind…is…blown!”
Colleen Houck is October's Affiliate Blogger. To find out more about our guest author positions here at the League, click here.
Colleen Houck’s New York Times bestselling Tiger’s Curse series has received national praise with the fourth book, Tiger’s Destiny, debuting September 2012. Colleen is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, science fiction, and romance. Formerly a student at the University of Arizona, she has worked as a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter for seventeen years. Colleen lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.
by Colleen Houck
Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.