Things I Love: A Fascination with Time

First of all, to steal the picture from Jae’s central ‘Things I Love’ post! It was this picture, actually, which helped me pick what I am going to talk about. Whilst this is an astrological clock/astrolabe and not a general time-keeper, it illustrates how I am drawn to images with such wonderful patterns.

I don’t know which came first: the fascination with time and clocks themselves, or the idea to write a story involving those elements. Indeed, I began to notice the ornate patterns on clock faces more since I finished [draft one of] the novel, but it’s quite probable that the interest was already there long before I started writing and had chosen the genre.

You see, I grew up on Star Trek and Doctor Who, so it would have been odd if I hadn’t turned out to have a love of sci-fi and time-travel. In fact, time-travel is the only sub-genre of sci-fi that I find easy to write. There’s something about the way that anything can happen within reason…

Of course, effectively, that’s what writing any genre is about. I have other works in simpler genres where coincidences become the lead-in to main story-lines.

With time-travel, however, it’s a little different. Let’s forget, for a moment, about the process of ‘world-building’ the future. Let’s say we’ve already done that or we are going to the past; we – the author – know what’s going to happen when said character reaches said place, but the getting there is a little difficult.

15-year-old me’s concept artwork for Zara’s watch

      In my novel, supporting character Zara has a wristwatch with six hands, which you wind like the usual three. It’s press the button and off she goes! Easy, right? Not when you’ve only got day, month, year, which is not even guaranteed to work. A watch like that could set you down anywhere…

   Now, one of the things I like the most about time is its ability to be unpredictable, and the philosophy behind that. Zara has no ‘Prime Directive’, no moral code she follows when discussing the future with the MC, but there are automatically some boundaries that talking about time-travel brings up. When you don’t know quite what’s guiding you, you don’t want to go spilling all your secrets in one go (plus, that would make for no fictitious intrigue!). Because time fluctuates and changes as every past second goes by, there’s no guarantee that when Zara returns to her time it will be the same. Thus, there’s nothing she can actually be certain of when she makes her moves in the past.At the heart of the story, time is animate, with its own, animalistic ‘mind’; without that, there wouldn’t be the problem of time not following a linear path. This, too, I like to imagine in reality. How do we actually know that there are no parallel dimensions or worlds around us?

Do you believe in paradoxes? I think they’re wonderful, especially if they lead to the time-travel in the first place. In a short story I am working on, The Happiness Machine, the MC is tricked into time-travelling into the future so that the civilisation there can send back a time-machine to the people who tricked the MC in the first place.  

“How did you know?” I asked Ariadne.

“Self-fulfilling prophecy. One day, another Happiness Machine will be built, in order to send us the information we need to build the component- in the same way that someone must have told the Cohens how to build their one-way device. We have information. We have known that you would come here and stay, as part of our community.”


Now, back to the physical. What I love about time-keepers is that they are usually pretty ornate, since the three hands have to be dainty, yet visible. Digital clocks just don’t give the same impression. However, the intricate lacing of designs I have seen on the faces of clocks were not the inspiration for the following passage of description, which actually comes from ‘what I know’, an old-fashioned clock that sits on the mantelpiece of my house:

Barely four inches high, the face was white but the body gleamed gold and had a handle, designed for it to be hung by, or clutched at, such as carriage clocks had been designed to give the time on a carriage-train without sliding about. It could not, however, have been one from the railway, for, as Aidelle looked, she could discern that its body would be far too weighty to travel with a train. Its ornaments would have been lost amid the station. Numbers in Roman numerals winked with the hands as they circumnavigated the light.

Barely four inches high...

Nowadays, however, I’ve gained an eye for spotting those sorts of steam-punk-esque designs. I wouldn’t have said that steam-punk was my kind of genre, at least, not for writing or drawing, but, recently, it is those sorts of cogs and keys patterns that I have become interested in. As a member of the web-art community,, I have subscribed to a maker of keys with cogs designs, so my ideas have turned to those sorts of images (though I’ve not yet incorporated them into a novel!).

Marvel at my amazing painting skills! xD My imagined front cover for The Novel

19 thoughts on “Things I Love: A Fascination with Time

  1. I love time travel too. A lot. That’s why Doctor Who was a natural fit for me. Isn’t that astronomical clock one of the raddest things you’ve ever seen? Yep, all thanks to my friend Daphne for introducing me to it. Great post, glad to know a little more about what you love and why. 🙂

    1. *grin* Thanks. I’m thinking of doing another, but I have a lot of post ideas that I hold around to writing at some point!
      Doctor Who *drools* The most recento stories have been incredibly clever, plot-wise, too.

      1. I haven’t seen the newest season. I think I’m caught up through season 6. Netflix & Hulu are my cable, so I’m slow. But yeah, I especially thought the 5th season (first of Matt Smith) was great. Someday I want to write a series that has to do with time travel, but I think I’ll need my writing skills to be a little more advanced. Even JK Rowling says writing a story with time-travel is a big pain.

        1. To be honest, I’ve lost track of the series numbers. Russel T Davis always wrote in series of 13s, but Steven Moffatt does things a little differently. I like Matt Smith’s acting, but I’m not sure I like his Doctor; to me, he seems to human compared with David Tennant’s.
          Hmm, but if you can pull it time-travel it’s very effective… JK did it well, in my opinion. That’s why the third Harry Potter book/film is my favourite. It even has a couple of paradoxes!

          1. Yeah, the third’s my favorite too. Which is interesting because it’s really the only book without Voldemort as a villain. I need to read it again. I need to read them all again.

            1. Me, too. 🙂 You know, I was thinking the same thing about it not being full of Voldemort. That’s weird…

              1. Sometimes that works really well though. Think of one of the best Doctor Who episodes (IMO) “Blink.” The Doctor is present, but he isn’t. I know the Doctor isn’t the villain, but hopefully you’re getting my point. We know Voldy’s out there somewhere, but the story shifts for a bit, still ultimately ending up at where it needs to go. It makes me think about character intros, especially villains. I kind of like the idea of building up to bigger bosses. They do that really well on Farscape.

                1. That’s so weird, because Blink is one of MY favourite episodes! I have it on DVD, and, though I like Doctor Who, I have very few on DVD (mainly because it involves me going out and buying them with money I need for other things, because I’m the only one in the house that avidly likes Doctor Who).
                  I always thought that I liked it because it didn’t centre on Voldemort; perhaps, the books would have been too ‘samey’ if it had. Yeah, I remember you saying about that on your post about Farscape. I remember because I stopped and criticised myself for always writing straightforward ‘villainy’ villains. I mean, technically, the biggest ‘antagonist’ in my main novel is time and space, but the physical antagonist is basically a spoilt, selfish brother, who generally wants things for himself. I’m ashamed to say that he’s really not that complex. And he dies at the end.
                  If I ever get ’round to writing the next book, I’m definitely creating a minor villain and major, hidden villain.

  2. You probably want to take a look at the brother, then, and give him some redeeming qualities, even if we still hate him. In fact, seems like it would be more interesting if we hated him all the way up to the end, but then he did something unexpected that redeemed him and we’re thinking, well, maybe we misjudged him and then wham, dead. You really should give Farscape a watch if you can. It gave me a whole new perspective on hero/villain relationships.

    1. Yeah, good idea. Hmm. *thinks. continues thinking* The problem is that he’s not involved in, like, the last few chapters; we just hear that he dies. And, if I remember rightly, the last scene he’s in, he’s deliberatly trying to get the MC and SC in trouble.
      Ooh, no, I remember! He gets rebuked by the father whom he’s been trying to please/manipulate, and goes off and sulks. Might have to write in a scene where he feels sorry. (But then I’m compelled to add ‘or does he?’ xD There’s no love lost between us.)

      1. Usually a good idea like that for your character takes a lot of pondering. Sometimes I brainstorm out a few possibilities and see where they lead. Someone also once suggested to write a practice scene where your bad guy is the protagonist and your good guy is the antagonist. Maybe you could write it where you get in the brother’s head and why he wants to stop them?

        1. That’s a good idea! *Actual thinking*
          I want to write some really romantic and vengeful reason, but I know it wouldn’t fit in with his personality. I know it’s quite a good plot device that most characters turn ‘evil’ (like Queen Regina from Once) because someone they love has been taken – and it would be interesting for me to write him as gay (’cause it doesn’t seem correct in my head for him to have once had a girlfriend) – but his actions have never been romantic. Have you heard of people who have no romantic or sexual interest within them? I have an autistic friend like that, where it doesn’t appear that she has the part of desire that most humans have. Anyways, I reckon that’s how I’ve made his character.
          Does that make him sound very one-dimensional? He doesn’t seem like it in my head, but I’ve never considered proper motive for the villain. Now…ways to spur on a want or greed for money…
          By the way, do you post a post everyday? That’s awesome. I never could.

          1. And well, every weekday I post. I take breaks on the weekends. I follow this one blogger and she’s got 1000 followers. I asked her how she became so successful, she says she blogs every day. I’m trying to follow in her footsteps, we’ll see if I can keep it up.

    2. It can still be about love, just not necessarily the romantic type. It could be a lost brother, mother, uncle. I don’t know as much about the story obviously, so I’m just making things up. Maybe he always hated her because she got all the attention. Maybe she broke time once before and they had to sacrifice someone important to stop it, but he wasn’t allowed to talk about it, but he’s still pissed. Stuff like that.

      1. Those are good ideas, and I’ll certainly adapt them, but it’s true when you say you don’t know anything about the story. *laughs* That’s not your fault. ‘Maybe he always hated (her)him because (s)he got all the attention.’ That’s what I’m going for, and not because you suggested it; it’s really the only one that fits. We’ll see.
        I see. 🙂 I’m doing pretty well managing to post every other day recently, but that’s ’cause it’s my half-term. On Monday, it’ll be back to the normal: post twice a week if I have time to write.
        PS. Can I steal this idea?- ‘Maybe she broke time once before and they had to sacrifice someone important to stop it, but he wasn’t allowed to talk about it, but he’s still pissed’ – because the second book [in planning! But I do want to eventually write it!] runs along a similar theme to that idea (though, obviously not with the same main characters ’cause that would become samey), though not so specific as it.

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