Relativity is Relative

So I’m writing a story that takes place in the Tincaniverse, a neighborhood of the Science Fiction world that suspends a couple of physical laws because they are inconvenient, while still maintaing a general feeling that science is real. Anyone who writes a story with faster-than-light travel or spaceships with gravity holding people to the decks is playing in this same universe. Everyone knows time travel is sci-fi hooey, but time travel and faster-than-light travel are pretty much the same thing as far as physics is concerned. This is the inconvenient bit that writers and readers would prefer to ignore.

Time travel stories are really tough to do, because the writer is obliged to create an elaborate set of rules to prevent paradoxes. Many writers go for the branching-universe model for time travel, that posits that when you change an event in the past you spawn a branch universe that reflects the change, while there’s still another copy of the universe crashing along as if nothing ever happened. Which means the catastrophe the protagonist went back in time to prevent still happens, just not on his new time line. He’s just blown off his friends to horrible suffering while he goes and has fun with copies of them. Selfish bastard.

Still, time travel makes a good story once in a while. (See “William Ashbless” and “Red Dorakeen”)

Anyway, here I am in the Tincaniverse, thinking about the most poetic way to wrap up a story, and suddenly selective relativity is attractive. Distance and time being synonymous really works in this case. The question is, am I brazen enough to go for it?

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