Tropes are everywhere. It’s almost impossible not to fall victim to at least one or two in your storytelling. So the questions become, how and why are these tropes new. And these answers come from the characters.
Time-travel is an oft used trope, but it can differ based on the mechanics of how it works in your story; from the rules you set in place to the consequences time-travel can ignite. Is time-travel achieved through a portal or a machine? Can you change history or not? Are multiple universes conceived or is there only one timeline? The moment I decided to write a time-travel novel I put aside all time-travel related media. I didn’t want to see my ideas popping up somewhere else- as in, already used, nor did I want to have anything being done now inadvertently show up in my story.
Nexus Point, and the entire Time Ranger series, fell into being a time-travel story. I created an expansive world-build including planets, characters, themes and governments, all to back-up the story of a man learning to break the chains holding him back from being who he truly wants to be. I spent months world-building alien planets, controversy, Galactic Empires and whatnot. I needed/wanted worlds that were technologically behind us, and have reasons for humans to interact with said worlds. The logistics of all these worlds, and finding plausible reasons for why a big space war existed in order to have my military characters going to these planets became overwhelming. I wanted to tell a story, not just build a world.
A rule of thumb for world-building is that you technically only show the tip of the iceberg, but even at that, from what I’d created, it would take too many words, too many pages, too much explaining. And I didn’t want to fall victim of info-dumping. So I found myself at a bit of a standstill with Nexus Point. I think months went by where I didn’t write anything other than a few details of more world-building.
One day, in total frustration, I dropped my head onto the keyboard and muttered … ‘this would be so much easier if they just time-travelled’.
An epiphany hit. I sat up and started writing. Eight hours later I stopped. And none of it was world-building, but rather, the story itself flowed. Unfortunately, most of those initial chapters didn’t survive several rounds of editing with my developmental editor, but it did open the door for Commander Sawyer and the Time Rangers to be born.
I now had my technologically advanced characters in technologically un-advanced times to help support conflict in the book. This satisfied my need to have my protagonist, Commander Sawyer, put in a difficult position wherein he could do his job, and stop the Historical Contamination Acts from poisoning his time, with relative ease. But he couldn’t use any of his technology. Contaminating the past goes against the number one rule of the Time Rangers. He and his team have access to all this wondrous technology that allows them to take a space ship through a star-like structure located 0.2 AU past our main asteroid belt, and go through time. Yet, he and his team have to solve their missions with nothing but their wits, brains, and whatever tools or weapons were in use during that time. In the case of Nexus Point, it is seventeenth century France. So instead of firing a twenty-second century pulse-weapon designed to either kill or debilitate someone, they have to use a musket. And since I didn’t want to mess too much with history, because the point is to keep our (the readers) history intact, I came up with scan-tacts. Contacts that allow a wearer to see auras. A green aura denotes that person is significant to history, and must not be messed with. Which makes it more difficult for Sawyer and his team, because sometimes, a green aura stands in their way of completing their mission.
As for the protagonist being a genetically enhanced human (Spawn), it allowed me to show where I think our future is going. Which is part of the reasons I enjoy sci-fi. Do we see our future as utopian or dystopian? What values will carry forward into our future? And how will humans progress socially, politically and technologically? I used genome editing called CRISPR-Cas9, which is in existence today, but (for the most part) is illegal. Building Spawns into the future that exists in Nexus Point, shows where I think our technology is going… whether I agree with it or not is another question.
I was also able to exploit genome editing by having it used against Sawyer. His genetic enhancements put him in a position where he has to fight for his life back in France. And it’s through this, he learns he is more than what his father designed him to be – a perfect soldier who follows commands, no questions asked.
So although time-travel is a trope, I like to think I used it as a means to help build my story as opposed to it being the story itself. What is fresh and new about my time-travel trope? Maybe nothing. Nexus Point is about breaking the chains of expectations put on you, and becoming who you are really meant to be. Sci-fi, time-travel, is a setting that allows my story- Commander Sawyer’s story- to be told in an entertaining forum.
About the Author:
Author, former Trooper with the RCAC Queen’s York Rangers, and lifelong fan of science fiction, K.Pimpinella also studied english and space sciences at university. Working as a paramedic for 20yrs, time at NASA’s Adult Space Academy at the Marshall Space flight Center in Hunstville, Alabama, and past volunteer work with Global Medics in Cambodia, has given her invaluable experience to draw from as she writes her action/adventure, soft-military, sci-fi time travel series- The Time Rangers. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two dogs.
Author Site: www.kpimpinella.com