Category Archives: Temporal Anomalies/Time Travel

#474: Preliminary Temporal Thoughts on Paper Girls

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #474, on the subject of Preliminary Temporal Thoughts on Paper Girls.

Reader Scott Curtis contacted me to ask,

I am a longtime reader of your articles on time travel cinema.  My wife and I are watching the short lived show Paper Girls on Amazon Prime, and I was wondering if you have taken a look at it?  If so I was wondering if you have considered turning your analytical eye on it.

Quite a few years back I wrote an explanation of Why Not Analyze Time Travel Television Shows? much of which still applies.  Granted, it appears from the Amazon description that Paper Girls is only 8 episodes, but that’s quite a bit of material, and in my current circumstances getting the opportunity to watch a two-hour movie is challenging.

However, I did take a look at the blurb, and ran into an obvious problem.  It tells us that they have to interact with their adult selves.  Let’s consider this.

If they left from 1988 and arrived in 2019, they ceased to exist in time in 1988 and don’t exist in 2019.  Before they can interact with their future selves, they have to return to the past and create future selves.  That means they need an N-jump resolution which they’re not going to get, because the second problem is once they’ve returned to the past and so replaced themselves in history, the world changes drastically around them–let’s face it, four fifteen-year-old girls who live to be forty-six is going to mean some of them marry and/or have children, and we hit the genetic problem in spades.  Further, the selves they meet in the future are going to be the ones who made the trip they are currently making but didn’t find themselves in the future.  This then sets up the problem that they have to return to the past–we need a stable sawtooth snap–and we have to repeat history with versions of themselves who did make that trip, who then are different from having met their older selves when they were younger.  Getting this to stabilize is very complicated.

Further, telling stories in this temporal morass means choosing which timeline, and the only one that will exist beyond their return to the past is the last one.  However, the blurb also says that they have to deal with warring time traveling factions.  Assuming these come from the yet further future, they cannot come into existence until our first anomaly is resolved–our girls have met their younger selves and remember having met their older selves–because only after that can there be a tomorrow.  Then time has to advance to a moment in the future when one of those factions travels into that history between 1988 and 2019, which again changes that history and forces a repeat of their anomaly, which happens again when the other faction arrives attempting to alter history again, and every time one of those future factions travels to any point in the past, even points after 2019, they create ripples in history reaching all the way back to 1988 (because if in 2050 faction A sends someone to 2030 who impacts persons in faction B, when faction B sends someone from 2040 to 2019 that person will be different, impacted by the 2030 visit, and so will impact our four girls differently, changing events flowing from 1988).

I see very little hope for a satisfactory temporal resolution to such a morass, and expect that it’s going to crash into an infinity loop at some point, the end, no future.

If it is not obvious, though, I need to caveat that I have not watched the show; this is entirely based on the descriptive blurb.

Much of this is covered better in the book The Essential Guide to Time Travel, available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Scott adds that the handling of time travel is unlike anything he has seen elsewhere, so I might try to catch a few episodes and that might inspire some additional thoughts on it.

I hope this helps.

#461: 2022 In Review

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #461, on the subject of 2022 In Review.

Each year I try to post an index of everything I published in the previous year.  I’ve done it before, obviously, so working backwards you can find previous years (and in the early days of the web log, partial years) at:

It has been an unusually productive year–in the sense that it has been productive in unusual ways.  In the wake of the release last year of my comprehensive apologetics book Why I Believe from Dimensionfold Publishing, they put to print my summary of time travel theory, The Essential Guide to Time Travel:  Temporal Anomalies & Replacement Theory, and republished three earlier books, Do You Trust Me? summarizing salvation by faith as the only way of salvation ever, What Does God Expect?  A Gospel-based Approach to Christian Conduct about living a Christian life without following rules, and About the Fruit, a study of the famous passage in Galatians and its place in that book and in the history of the first century church.  There is a long list of pending titles moving toward publication next year, beginning with a printed collection of the Faith in Play series–more on that later.

There were twelve entries in that series this year, including several on archetypes, a few on bringing divine acts into the game, some about spirits and the afterlife, and a couple about Christianity and role playing games.  The companion series, RPG-ology, also slated to be compiled and released in book form next year, gave us eight recovered Game Ideas Unlimited articles from the old Gaming Outpost series, plus one more originally in the e-zine Daedalus, and a few new suggestions for running games.  All of those are indexed at the Christian Gamers Guild, 2022 At the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, along with a few other articles at that site.

There were also many posts on the Chaplain’s Bible Study, which finished the Gospel According to John and began working on Mark, along with several Musings posts.

The Multiverser novels continued in serialized form, finishing the eighth, In Verse Proportion, featuring Joe Kondor, Bob Slade, and Derek Brown, and starting the ninth, Con Verse Lea, with the return of Lauren Hastings, Tomiko Takano, and James Beam.  These were accompanied by behind-the-writings peeks as mark Joseph “young” web log posts:

In collaboration with author Eric R. Ashley, I’ve got the tenth and eleventh books fully drafted, and we have started on the twelfth.  I also posted updated character sheets for Joseph Kondor, Robert Slade, Derek Brown, Lady Shella, Ezekiel Smith, and Amira Vashti, and am working on the next set of these.

The web log also posted eleven songs–not twelve, because due to government red tape tangles I was off line for a full month, but it only cost us a bit.  We saw, and heard (there are audio files linked from the pages which contain the lyrics and a story behind the song) including:

  1. #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again”;
  2. #438:  The Song “Even You”;
  3. #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road”;
  4. #442:  The Song “Call to Worship”;
  5. #445:  The Song “How Many Times”;
  6. #447:  The Song “When I Was Lonely”;
  7. #450:  The Song “Rainy Days”;
  8. #453:  The Song “Never Alone”;
  9. #455:  The Song “King of Glory”;
  10. #457:  The Song “Greater Love”;
  11. #458:  The Song “All I Need”;

Other web log posts included:

There was a new analysis added to the Temporal Anomalies site, Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies unravels The History of Time Travel, a clever mockumentary in which time travel was never invented because its inventor prevented it.

Those upcoming books include compilations of the first five years of articles in the Faith in Play and RPG-ology series, plus a book of collected essays on role playing games, and then I hope to see a series of commentaries on the New Testament, one book at a time.  I began with Romans a decade and a half ago, worked my way through the end of Revelation, then doubled back to do John, Mark, and Matthew, and am currently working on Luke.  after that, I will be going through Acts, which will complete the New Testament hopefully within my lifetime.

On the web, I have a few Faith in Play and RPG-ology entries queued to post and a couple more waiting for me to set them up.  There will be more web log posts, and hopefully I’ll get to some of the time travel movies I’ve noted are available on various web streaming services.  Of course, the novels continue, and the Bible Study will be around for a while yet.

I have an Instagram account, and early in the year I decided to post some of my Gazebos in the Wild photos to it, along with some other things there.  They are mostly in the categories of nonsense or personal, but you’re welcome to look.

Those who wish to stay current on what is being posted can get that from my social media outlets, but particularly Patreon, where I announce everything that posts on the day it posts, other than the Bible Study; and the Goodreads web log The Ides of Mark which publishes twice a month and includes the Bible Study posts.

There are also still more songs to come, and one should be released later today.

#459: Publication Anticipation

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #459, on the subject of Publication Anticipation.

Because of a computer hiccough I lost a few files, including the index of this web log; my backup copy was almost three years old, so I have been rebuilding it.  In the process, I stumbled upon a post I wrote in anticipation of the release of The Essential Guide to Time Travel, and realized that at this moment I am anticipating the release of several books and should mention them here.

Before I look forward, I should look back.  The past year or so has seen the release of the apologetics book on which I was working for well over a decade, Why I Believe, the aforementioned time travel book, and new editions of Do You Trust Me?, What Does God Expect?, and About the Fruit.  Meanwhile, I continue to post chapter-by-chapter the Multiverser novels, currently publishing the ninth, Con Verse Lea, and having collaborated with Eric R. Ashley to finish the tenth, In Version, and make significant progress on the eleventh, Con Version.  There will be fiction coming out for quite a while.

There will also be more books in print.  Dimensionfold Publishing has decided to release the first five years of the Faith in Play series in book form–it is difficult to believe, but the sixtieth article posted in November, and there are more to come.  The book will feature a foreword by “Geek Preacher” Derek White, and also includes two articles from The Way, the Truth, and the Dice, Magic:  Essential to Faith, Essential to Fantasy, and Real and Imaginary Violence, plus two posts on the Christian Gamers Guild site that were never part of a series, Christmas and A Christian Game.  The publisher is planning to put it together in January.

Coupled with that, but scheduled to follow it, I am currently editing a companion volume covering the first five years of the companion series, RPG-ology.  Because many of those articles are reproductions of entries in the lost Game Ideas Unlimited series at Gaming Outpost, they are on average longer, but I plan to include two other essays, one the recovered original introduction to the Game Ideas Unlimited series as a reference point for recovered articles from that series, the other the first article of mine ever published on someone else’s web site, which happens also to have been Gaming Outpost, Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Gaming Essentials.

I realized as I was compiling that book that there were quite a few articles that might be included–enough that Ken Goudsward agreed they should form their own book.  Thus I am also working on a collection of such essays under the tentative title Theory 101 and Other Essays on Role Playing Games.  Tentatively it will open with the three-part Theory 101 series from Places to Go, People to Be, System and the Shared Imagined Space, The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, and Creative Agenda, followed by my contribution at The Forge, Applied Theory, then recover the earlier three-part series Law and Enforcement in Imaginary Realms, also from Places to Go, People to Be, The Source of Law, The Course of Law, and The Force of Law, followed by my RPGnet article I’m Not a Lawyer But I Play One in a Game, and also from RPGnet Intuition and Surprise.  Also included is Re-educating the Power Gamer, which I wrote for Wounds Unlimited and wound up at, and three entries from the mark Joseph “young” web log, Writing Horror, A Christian View of Horror, and A Departing Member of the Christian Gamers Guild.

I’ve written quite a bit more for various sites.  Some of those articles are lost to web sites that ceased to exist; some have been preserved either in the books already mentioned or in Faith and Gaming Revised and Expanded Edition.  I have a couple months before I’m in a position to finalize this book, so if you’re aware of something I wrote that I might have missed, let me know.  Also, I’ll be looking for people to write forewords to these two books, and I’d rather avoid the embarrassment of asking people I think I know in the RPG world, so I’ll start by saying if you’re interested in doing that let me know.

I suggested that I have a lot of books on the drafting table at the moment, and three hardly seems like a lot–and indeed there are more.  I have for the past decade plus been writing in depth Bible studies for the Christian Gamers Guild Chaplain’s Bible Study, and my publisher likes the look of the short one I sent him so I’ll be starting on setting up an analytical commentary on Romans once I’ve got these under my belt, after which I will proceed through all the epistles through Revelation and then bounce back to the beginning.  I have three Gospels completed and am working on Luke, leaving only Acts as the last book to tackle.  That’s twenty-three commentaries if we do them all individually, which I think likely, and a lot of work for me to set them up.  I hope that they find an audience.

I’ll continue writing here, of course, and at the Christian Gamers Guild, and in other places as they arise, so stay in touch.

#435: Hindsight is 2021

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #435, on the subject of Hindsight is 2021.

Once again, as we did last year in web log post #371:  The Twenty-Twenty Twenty/Twenty and in previous years linked successively back from there, we are recapping everything published in the past year–sort of.

I say “sort of” because once again some material is being omitted.  There have been a few hundred posts to the Christian Gamers Guild Bible Study which can be accessed there but aren’t really fully indexed anywhere.  Meanwhile, the dozen articles in the Faith in Play series and the similar dozen in the RPG-ology series were just indexed yesterday on the Christian Gamers Guild site, along with everything else published there this year, in 2021 At the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, and won’t be repeated here.  The RPG-ology series began recovering articles from Game Ideas Unlimited, the lost four-year weekly series at Gaming Outpost, so I republished its debut article as web log post #384:  Game Ideas Unlimited Introduction, for the sake of completeness. 

I also posted several days a week on my Patreon web log, which announces almost everything I publish elsewhere on the same day it’s published, but again omitting the Bible study posts.

Similarly, we finished posting the novel Re Verse All, featuring Lauren Hastings, Tomiko Takano, and James Beam, from chapter 58 to the end (chapter 156), which are indexed there along with the several behind-the-writings posts on it:

  1. #373:  Nervous Characters covering chapters 55 through 60;
  2. #376:  Characters Arrive covering chapters 61 through 66;
  3. #379:  Character Conundrums covering chapters 67 through 72;
  4. #381:  World Complications covering chapters 73 through 78;
  5. #383:  Character Departures covering chapters 79 through 84;
  6. #385:  Characters Ascend covering chapters 85 through 90;
  7. #388:  Versers Climb covering chapters 91 through 96;
  8. #390:  World Facilities covering chapters 97 through 102;
  9. #392:  Characters Resting covering chapters 103 through 108;
  10. #395:  Character Obstacles covering chapters 109 through 114;
  11. #397:  Verser Challenges covering chapters 115 through 120;
  12. #401:  Characters Hiking covering chapters 121 through 126;
  13. #403:  Versers Innovating covering chapters 127 through 132;
  14. #405:  Versers Converge covering chapters 133 through 138;
  15. #407:  Versers Integrate covering chapters 139 through 144;
  16. #409:  Characters Cooperate covering chapters 145 through 150;
  17. #411:  Quest Concludes covering chapters 151 through 156.

Then there were several related character papers in the Multiverser Novel Support Site, and we then began posting In Verse Proportion, bringing back Joseph Kondor in fantasy Arabia, Bob Slade in industrial age bird world, and Derek Brown on a lost colony spaceship, at this point having reached chapter 39.  It included one behind-the-writings web log post, #432:  Whole New Worlds, covering the first twenty-one chapters.

Yet there was quite a bit more.

Forgive me for burying the lead, as it were, but just as Why I Believe came out late last year, it was followed this year by the release of The Essential Guide to Time Travel:  Temporal Anomalies & Replacement Theory, the long-awaited book on the subject, at the end of June.  This summarizing of much of the information on the Temporal Anomalies web site includes updated analyses of four films and a comprehensive presentation of time travel theory.  Dimensionfold Publishing interviewed me about it by e-mail, which they published here.

Related to that, a reader sent a letter with comments on Why I Believe, which I edited a bit (removing personal references) and posted as web log post #386:  An Unsolicited Private Review.

Now, getting back to other publications, there were another dozen songs published this year:

  1. Web log post #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom”, inspired by the verse about cutting off your hand;
  2. Web log post #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy”, a frenetic bit of musical excitement;
  3. Web log post #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice”, a bit of serious eschatological humor;
  4. Web log post #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good”, with political overtones;
  5. Web log post #393:  The Song “Why”, one of my rare worship songs;
  6. Web log post #399:  The Song “Look Around You”, an old evangelistic song;
  7. Web log post #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command, one of the generally early ones;
  8. Web log post #408:  The Song “Given You My Name”, written for my wife;
  9. Web log post #412:  The Song “When I Think”, which I hope will play at my funeral;
  10. Web log post #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me”, the title self-explanatory;
  11. Web log post #428:  The Song “To the Victor”, another rare worship song;
  12. Web log post #433:  The Song “From Job”, calling believers to repentance.

And there will be another song published today, but since that’s 2022, we’ll not say more about it yet.

I touched on Christian music otherwise in web log post #374:  Christian Instrumental Music, where I raise the question of how to recognize it.  My series on contemporary and rock Christian music in the 80s also continued briefly with web log posts #389:  Brother John Michael Talbot and #391:  Pat Terry.  A question asked on a Christian musicians group on Facebook prompted the writing of web log post #396:  Why Music Matters.

It was a not insignificant election year in New Jersey, but my first political post, #375:  Fixing the Focus, took a more general view, suggesting that Christians need to get our eyes off politics and on faith.  Closely following that, #377:  A New Tragedy of the Common looked at how online shopping was impacting brick & mortar retail.  Another political post with religious connections was #394:  Unplanned, about pregnancies.  With rules related to COVID in flux, in the late spring I posted web log post #398:  New 2021 Face Mask Rules in New Jersey to help a few of my readers.  The really political stuff began with #400:  New Jersey 2021 Primary and #402:  New Jersey 2021 Primary Results, but before the election an issue across the pond in England called for a response in #406:  Internet Racism, asking whether online social media criticism of black athletes should be criminal.

Then as the election loomed I offered #427:  The New Jersey 2021 Ballot, including a quick look at the public questions, followed a few days later by #430:  New Jersey 2021 Tentative Election Results.

I was given a book for Christmas, which I read and reviewed at Goodreads, God Is Disappointed In You, by comic book creator Mark Russell.

Then early in May someone (and I don’t remember who, how, or why) persuaded me to register as a Goodreads author; or maybe I did that earlier, but it was in May that I was persuaded by Goodreads to launch yet another web log, this one entitled The Ides of Mark because it appropriately posted at the middle and end of each month, updating readers on what I had published during that period.  In that sense, it is somewhat redundant, as the aforementioned Patreon web log covers that as it happens, and this annual review recaps it all eventually.  However, Ides also covers postings in the Bible Study and omits a lot of the personal detail about what I’m doing besides writing which the Patreon blog includes, and gives less information about what I am writing that has not yet been published.  This year’s entries have included:

  1. #1:  New Beginnings, May first through fifteenth, launching and explaining the series;
  2. #2:  Establishing Patterns, May sixteenth through thirty-first, featuring several web log posts;
  3. #3:  The Charm, June first through fifteenth, around the primary election;
  4. #4:  About Time, June sixteenth through thirtieth, announcing the publication of the aforementioned time travel book;
  5. #5:  Going Somewhen, July first through fifteenth, citing an Amazon review;
  6. #6:  The First Quarter, July sixteenth through thirty-first, with a scattered batch of articles;
  7. #7:  Getting Noticed, August first through fifteenth, citing evidence that the blog was being read by someone;
  8. #8:  Ends and Starts, August sixteenth through thirty-first, with the end of Re Verse All;
  9. #9:  Quiet on the Surface, September first through fifteenth, including character sheet posts;
  10. #10:  Before the Storm, September sixteenth through thirtieth, with the remaining character sheets;
  11. #11:  Looking Busy, October first through fifteenth, with the launch of In Verse Proportion and the beginning of the series on Exodus, listed below;
  12. #12:  A Frightening Output, October sixteenth through thirty-first, finishing the Exodus series;
  13. #13:  Slowing Down, November first through fifteenth, including the index of the articles in French translation mentioned below;
  14. #14:  Holiday Season, November sixteenth through thirtieth, as activity winds down;
  15. #15:  Not Much Said, December first through fifteenth, continuing the quiet;
  16. #16:  Years Go By, December sixteenth through thirty-first, with my post-Christmas post.

Not all of that is repeated here, but the bulk of it is.  I also answered ten questions there, which you can find here.

Half a decade ago I wrote about those musicians who influenced me; this year it occurred to me to do the same of writers, and so posted #380:  Authorial Influences exploring that.

Quite a few Bible questions came up and were answered, beginning with web log post #410:  When to Pray, followed by a somewhat technical question about a passage in Matthew, #413:  The Abomination of Desolation.  Then another reader asked me to address a long and complicated collection of issues in an article that claimed the Exodus, as reported in the book of that name, never happened, and I produced an eleven-part miniseries of web log posts in response:

  1. The introductory article was #415:  Can the Exodus Story Be True?
  2. It was followed by an answer to the first objection, #416:  Does Archaeological Silence Disprove the Exodus?
  3. Turning to the second objection about whether such a departure could be organized, we offered #417:  Is the Beginning of the Exodus Account Implausible?
  4. The third objection was that given the number of escaping Israelites the line this would have created would have been too long to outrun Pharaoh’s chariots, to which we offered #418:  Are There Too Many People Escaping in Exodus?
  5. The fourth objection was summarized and answered in #419:  When Escaping in Exodus, Did the Israelites Have Too Much Luggage?
  6. In response to the fifth objection we wrote #420: Were the Hygiene Requirements in Exodus Impossible to Observe?
  7. The sixth objection asked and answered #421: Did Moses Write the Torah?
  8. For the seventh objection, we addressed the issue of anachronisms, and particularly those related to place names, in #422:  Are There Anachronisms in the Torah that Invalidate It?
  9. The absurdity of the eighth objection is displayed in #423:  What Kind of Infrastructure Did the Wandering Israelites Need?
  10. We looked at the penultimate objection in #424:  Did the Earth Really Stop Turning?
  11. Finally, the point was raised that there were similarities between the life of Moses and earlier accounts of Sargon, which led to the conclusion Do Similarities Between the Accounts of Moses Birth and Certain Myths Make Him a Fictional Character?, which also addresses a few final points.

After that, a Patreon patron asked about horror, so I produced #426:  A Christian View of Horror.  Comments on a Facebook group page related to one of my colleges concerning the fact that the campus is almost completely obliterated led to the writing of #429:  Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts, about the legacy such a place has without any memorial markers for the site.  I also finished the year last week with a post-Christmas post, #434:  Foolish Wisemen, something of a pre-epiphany epiphany.

Finally, I’ve had a long-standing relationship with the people at the French edition of Places to Go, People to Be, under which they have translated and republished quite a few of my articles.  I finally took the time to organize these into an index in English, at least for my own reference, which I made available as web log post #431:  Mark Joseph Young En Français, with links to such English versions as are available.

The writing of course continues, with more articles already in the queue, more work being done on the next novel, and more posted every week.  Thank you for reading, and particularly to those of you who have encouraged me through posts and reposts and likes, and who have supported me through Patreon or and the purchase of my books.

#371: The Twenty-Twenty Twenty/Twenty

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #371, on the subject of The Twenty-Twenty Twenty/Twenty.

I believe the correct greeting is Happy New Year, as we enter 2021.  That means it is time for us to look back at everything that we published in 2020.

The big deal is the book, in paperback and Kindle format, Why I Believe, a compilation of evidence on the basis of which intelligent people believe in God and in Jesus Christ.  I’m told the hardcover version is out, joining the paperback and Kindle versions, but haven’t seen it yet.

The year began, appropriately, on January 1st with a look back at the previous year, web log post #325:  The 2019 Recap, doing then what we are doing now, providing a quick look at everything from the previous dozen months.

On the first of the year I also published a song, the first of a dozen continuing from the seven of the previous year:

  1. web log post #326:  The Song “Mountain Mountain”;
  2. web log post #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice”;
  3. web log post #334:  The Song “Convinced”;
  4. web log post #337:  The Song “Selfish Love”;
  5. web log post #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul”;
  6. web log post #341:  The Song “Joined Together”;
  7. web log post #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”;
  8. web log post #349:  The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”;
  9. web log post #353:  The Song “I Use to Think”;
  10. web log post #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good”;
  11. web log post #362:  The Song “My Life to You”; and
  12. web log post #366:  The Song “Sometimes”.

That series continues with another song later today.

On the subject of series, there are several others, including both the Faith in Play and RPG-ology monthly series at the Christian Gamers Guild.  These are both indexed, along with other excellent material from other contributing authors, at 2020 at the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, posted yesterday.  Thanks to the editorial staff of the French edition of Places to Go, People to Be, a large collection of the original Game Ideas Unlimited articles, thought to be lost when Gaming Outpost closed, have been recovered and are now appearing slightly repolished in these series.  (Quite a few of them plus other articles have been translated into French for their site.) We also finished posting the rest of the novel Versers Versus Versers, along with updated character sheets in the Multiverser Novel Support Pages, and started on the seventh, Re Verse All, which will continue well into the new year.  There were quite a few behind-the-writings web log posts connected to those, but they are indexed in the novel table of contents pages so we won’t burden this entry with them.

There was also the continuation of another series, reminiscences on the history of Christian contemporary and rock music from the early 1980s, which picked up with:

  1. web log post #329:  CCM Guys at the Beginning, a conglomerate of artists from Randy Matthews and Randy Stonehill through Michael W. Smith;
  2. web log post #332:  The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown;
  3. web log post #335:  Bob Bennett’s First Matters;
  4. web log post #342:  Fireworks Times Five, one of the best rock bands of the era;
  5. web log post #345:  Be Ye Glad, one of the best vocal bands of the era;
  6. web log post #358:  DeGarmo and Key, Not a Country Band, another excellent early rock ensemble.

I should mention for the time travel fans that there is indeed a book in the works, possibly with a sequel, but it’s still in the early stages so that’s on the list for the coming year.  Meanwhile, temporal anomalies were not ignored, as we had several posts and pages.

Among the miscellaneous posts this year is one about the fact that my work appears under several slightly different names–Mark, Mark J., M. Joseph, M. J., and Mark Joseph–and the story behind that is explained in web log post #331:  What’s With the Names?  A musician asked a question on a Facebook group, which I answered in web log post #352:  Why No One Cares About Your Songs.

Giving extra confusion to the year, in February my second grandchild, my first grandson, was born, roughly a decade or so after his half-sister.  That was the beginning of a saga that still is not completely resolved, but it was several months before he came home, in time for Halloween.

My book reading slowed drastically, due largely to the fact that my Kindle was smashed and I’ve been trying to get it repaired, but there are a few book reviews (one of a book on writing) at Goodreads.  Also appearing are two republished book reviews, as web log posts #351:  In re:  Evil Star and #368:  In re:  Cry of the Icemark, recovered from the lost Gaming Outpost archives.

We were quiet on the political front until June, when events related to Black Lives Matter prompted the writing of web log post #344:  Is It O.K. Not to Make a Statement?  Some argued that it was not.  We later explained the mail-in ballot system adopted by our home state in web log post #360:  Voting in 2020 in New Jersey, with a follow-up a couple weeks later in web log post #363:  The 2020 Election in New Jersey.

The year ahead looks promising.  There should be another song posted today, with Faith in Play and RPG-ology articles already queued for publication later this month and well into the year ahead, chapters of the novel Re Verse All with their accompanying behind-the-writings peeks standing by, more CCM history, some time travel movies awaiting my attention, and–well, we’ll have to see what appears.  Meanwhile, this is your opportunity to catch anything you missed or re-read anything you forgot.

I would be remiss if I did not thank those who have supported me through Patreon and, and to invite and encourage others to do so.  The Patreon web log is the first place where all new pages are announced, and the place to go for glimpses of what is to come, and even as little as a dollar a month helps me immensely and gets you that information delivered several times a week.  Thank you.

#369: Toward a Time Travel Book

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #369, on the subject of Toward a Time Travel Book.

As many of you know, Dimensionfold Publishing, who recently published my long-awaited book Why I Believe, has asked me to compose a book about time travel and temporal anomalies.  It is in the works.

I will not be doing a “behind the writings” series of the sort that I have done for the novels.  However, I will be asking for feedback along the way–indeed, I have already done so, via my Patreon and Facebook accounts.  As of yesterday I have a rough draft–a very rough draft, the sort of draft which includes single sentences in places to remind me that I have to write a section of text on a specific point there.  However, there is enough of it, written from beginning to end, that I am here going to publish the contents page.  It is presently set up very like that previously named book, with an opening page outlining all the major and minor sections, something like a table of contents but without page numbers.  (This is in large part because I submitted the document in a format that was not going to go to print without repagination, and it made no sense to attempt to give page numbers that were going to change.  There’s probably a way to make a Table of Contents that adjusts its page numbers when the page size is changed, but it’s probably beyond me.)

In publishing this I hope that fans of the Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies site and other time travel fans will make constructive comments on changes that need to be made to the broad outline, any important points I didn’t include (which I might have included in the text but not in the contents page), or anything you would have liked to have seen that seems to be absent.  Of course, I am incidentally hoping to whet your appetite for the book, but that’s not going to be shelf-ready for a while yet.

So here is the contents page; you can comment below or on my social media sites.

Temporal Anomalies and the Replacement Theory of Time Travel

M. Joseph Young

Preface:  how this book came to be
List of Movies Cited:  so the reader can avoid spoilers
The Core Theories:  fundamental ways time travel is handled

    Fixed Time Theory:  that the past cannot be changed.
    Multiple Dimension Theory:  parallel and divergent universes.
    Replacement Theory:  the ability to alter history.

Fixed Time Theory Examined:  details and problems of the theory

    The Predestination Paradox:  loops with uncaused causes.
    Becoming Your Own Grandfather:  a particular predestination paradox problem.
    The Grandfather Paradox:  the reverse problem, preventing your existence.
    The Novikov Self-Consistency Principle:  a mathematical argument for fixed time.
    Clarifying Fixed Time:  immutable means immutable.

Multiple Dimension Theories Examined:  more than one history of everything

    Types of Parallel Dimensions:  what we might expect.
    Types of Divergent Dimensions:  a different way to the same outcome.
    Unparalleled:  how time travel unravels the theory.
    The Two Brothers in Multiple Dimension Theory:  a simple logic problem that complicates things
    The Temporal Duplicate Problem with Divergent Dimensions:  if the traveler repeats the same trip.
    Other Problems with Divergent Dimensions:  including thermodynamics.

Replacement Theory Examined:  real time travel with free will.

    The N-Jump:  the preferred outcome of time travel.
    The Infinity Loop:  the ultimate temporal disaster.
    Sawtooth Snaps and Cycling Causalities:  repeatedly changing timelines.
    Where the People Go:  explaining what happens to everyone when time ends.
    Niven’s Law:  uncreating time travel.
    Temporal Duplicates and Replacement Theory:  objects and people doubled by time travel.
    Rate of Change:  when does the change in the past alter the future.
    The Spreadsheet Illustration:  demonstrating the anomalies mathematically.
    The Butterfly Effect:  small changes can have big impacts.
    The Genetic Problem:  how the entire population of the world can be changed.

Analyzing Examples:  applying temporal theory to time travel stories.
Analyzing Back to the Future:  showing a film that got most of it right.

    The Beginning:  reconstructing the original history.
    Changing History:  how Marty altered his own past.
    Quibbles:  all the little problems.
    Another Change:  the other version of Marty.
    An Alternate Explanation:  applying alternative theories.

Analyzing Terminator:  reconstructing the analysis of the first film studied.

    A Fixed Time Solution:  looking at the story if time is immutable.
    Other Dimensions:  a consideration of whether Multiple Dimension Theory works here.
    Rewind, Replace:  the Replacement Theory solution.
    Ratcheting:  a sawtooth snap.

Analyzing Los Cronocrimines a.k.a. TimeCrimes:  studying a cleverly complicated story.
Analyzing Predestination:  unraveling a challenging paradox by popular demand.
Meeting Yourself:  what happens when the time traveler encounters himself.
Jumping Into Bodies:  a specific trope of some time travel stories.
How to Change the Past:  a workable method of using time travel to alter recent events.
Toward Two-Dimensional Time:  discussion of an undeveloped model for time travel.
The Perpetual Barbecue:  a short story built on Replacement Theory.

So that’s the outline.  It strikes me as I write this that in the editing process I might decide to create more subsections, particularly in the film analyses of Los Cronocrimines and Predestination, but that’s more a matter of dividing the text into manageable portions and would have the undesired effect of pushing the contents to two pages.  I look forward to your feedback.  The present draft is ninety-eight pages and fifty-six-point-five thousand words, but as I say there are sections that still need to be written, so it will be longer.  (For comparison, the similarly formatted text of Why I Believe is one hundred two pages but only forty-three-point-six thousand words.)

I look forward to your feedback.

#350: The Return of Vazor

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #350, on the subject of The Return of Vazor.

What seems a long time ago, someone who posts under the name “Vazor” found Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies, and read extensively the articles on the site, including particularly the theory articles.  He then wrote Analysis of the Replacement Theory of Time Travel, in which he praised the ideas but also raised questions.  If the dates are to be credited, our interaction, including my reply Vazor’s Time Travel Questions First Response, appeared at the end of June of 2008.  Obviously from that title I was anticipating a reply from him, and now he admits that it is long overdue but presents for my consideration A Long Overdue Time Travel Post in which he raises some more questions.  Of course, since 2008 I have added a significant amount to my site, and I’m not certain what he has read from it, but we’ll see what we can cover.

I would say I have a lot of reading to do.  He is responding to something I wrote twelve years ago in response to his comments on articles I wrote before that, and getting a clear notion of what articles he has not seen will be part of the problem.  I have read his recent post, but I think I will have to read both his previous post and my response before I can tackle this.  Also, I am doing the initial draft as a web log post, but if it gets too long I am going to have to reformat it to add to the Temporal Anomalies site in the Conversation section that has been untouched perhaps since our last interaction.

Vazor spends a fair amount of time discussing parallel dimension theory and distinguishing it from what I have called divergent dimension theory.  I have not put dates on my pages, but I made the same distinction between parallel dimension theory and divergent dimension theory in my Theory 101 series originally published at  I don’t see any complications there, other than that I think we both reject both of those theories as not being time travel.

I am then quite surprised when he says

I really only have one big question left.  How does an infinity loop get created?  Why does the fact that the young Traveler will not travel back, destroy the future of the C-D timeline?  Won’t Traveler and younger Traveler just live on in peace following the future of the C-D timeline?  In my original post I asked this question, but it was never answered.

I am surprised because it seems to me that this was the first thing I answered in my original post.  However, I will attempt to respond more briefly.  I discussed the infinity loop in that same theory series, in the section What Is an Infinity Loop?.

The short answer is that the arrival of the time traveler in the past is caused by the departure of the time traveler in the future.  Should the time traveler not depart from the future, he will not arrive in the past.  That part is simple.  The part people don’t get is that having arrived in the past the time traveler has created an entirely new history, and that history replaces the original one (hence the name “replacement theory”), moment by moment erasing the events which had occurred and replacing them with new ones.  Eventually time will reach the moment at which the time traveler departed for the past, and that departure is erased; since that departure is the necessary cause of his arrival in the past, that arrival is also erased–unless in the new history the alternate self, the version of our time traveler for whom this is the only history of the world, makes the same trip to the past for the same reason.  Failure to do this undoes the causal chain that created the history in which the traveler arrives in the past, and so restores the original history.

I feel like this is the hundredth time I’ve attempted to write that explanation for someone, but hopefully those three iterations together will be adequately clear.

Vazor seems almost to grasp this, but then asks

Why does the C-D timeline need to exist?  With the way the rest of the theory treats timelines, the timeline is determined from the moment of the Traveler’s arrival.  So wouldn’t it be at that moment that the cause is no longer found and the adult Traveler must cease to exist?  I suppose this is equivalent to saying that time travel is not possible, unless the traveler jumps with the planning and preparation that will ensure that an N-jump will happen.

But let us assume time travel is possible regardless of where the new timeline will go.  In that case, my question is, why does the C-D timeline need to revert at that particular time?  You might say “because that is the point at which it is now certain that the young Traveler cannot recreate the events of the C-D timeline.”  However I posit that you could be certain of that at different times.  Perhaps the point at which the Traveler changes the younger Traveler’s mind should be the revert point?  No, the young Traveler could change their minds.  Perhaps the young Traveler is delayed a little but would have left from the C-D timeline at a little bit later point in time than D and successfully recreated the events at point C?  I can see that you need to resolve the cause and effect somewhere, but wouldn’t it be simpler if it happened at the moment of the jump back to C?

I am again surprised because Vazor previously mentioned having read The Spreadsheet Illustration of Temporal Anomalies; however, many people who have read that have missed some of its critical points.  Permit me to clarify.

What the spreadsheet illustration attempts to posit is a chain of causes and effects that create either a stable or an unstable loop.  In essence, the value of cell A1 is dependent on the value of cell A5, which is in turn dependent on the values of A4, A3, A2, and A1 in sequence.  If this chain of formulae results in A1 having the same value derived from A5, we have a stable loop, and the rest of the spreadsheet can be derived from the value of A5.  If, on the other hand, the value of A1 keeps changing, then the value of A5 keeps changing, changing the value of A1, and the rest of the spreadsheet cannot be calculated because the value of A5 is not constant.

What people miss is sort of two-fold:

  1. The value of A5 changes instantly when the value of A1 changes, because A5 is dependent on A1; but
  2. Sequentially before the value of A5 changes the values of A2, A3, and A4 all change, and those steps are necessary for A5 to change even though they, too, change instantaneously.

In exactly the same way at the instant the time traveler arrives in the past he changes all of history up through the moment he departs or fails to depart from the future, and in that sense his arrival in the past is instantly either confirmed or undone, but all of the events that lead from his arrival to his departure must happen before that confirmation or undoing can occur.  Further, we experience those intervening events as time, and thus we have a CD timeline because we need the causal chain which determines whether or not the traveler will depart from the future.

Did we make sense this time?

How does replacement theory explain the conservation of matter problem?

Honestly this question has been asked before, but not quite this way.

Conservation of matter is simply that matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed.  Under the replacement theory, there would appear initially to be a creation of matter at the arrival point, as the time traveler (and whatever he brings with him) are introduced as matter and energy that were not present, and there is an increase in the total mass of the universe.  Since any sane time traveler aims for a space in which the matter currently there is easily displaced–air, typically–I would not expect there to be a problem of matter arriving atop matter.  It is, I suppose, a plausible problem, and one that would also occur if we were talking about matter transmission or replication, but generally speaking the worst ordinary outcome would be an increase in atmospheric pressure of a small amount.

That increase in the total mass of the universe is effectively borrowed from the mass of the universe in the future, and has to be repaid at the moment it was borrowed–that is, if we send two hundred kilograms back from 2020 to 2010, we increase the mass of the universe by two hundred kilograms at 2010, but decrease it by the same amount at 2020, thus preserving the total mass of the universe.  In a sense, we moved the barbells to another room and then moved them back.

As to the four proposed time travel stories, they would need more details to know what is intended and whether it is possible.  The third, though, is something similar to something done (or at least discussed) in a Multiverser game.  Let us suggest that your villain built his robot and his time machine in 2018, and sends his robot in his time machine back from 2020 to 2019.&nbsp Since in 2019 he already has a robot and a time machine built in 2018, he now has two.  In 2020 he sends back both robots and both time machines, which both arrive in 2019, and now he has three of each.  He can continue doing this interminably, but we’ll say he stops at ten, so now in 2019 he has ten robots and ten time machines.

To clarify, the first time through he has one robot, and in 2020 he sends it back to 2019 so that he has two robots, which we can call #1 and #2.  In 2020 he can send #2 back to become #3, but he must also send #1 back to become #2 or #2 will not arrive in 2019 in the third iteration.  Thus by sending two robots back from the end of the second iteration he has in the third iteration three, not four, robots.

The problem is that he must send back nine of them (and technically the right nine) at the right moment in 2020.  After all, number ten is technically number one whose history includes that he has traveled to the past nine times, and if number one now fails to depart for the past, all the others will cease ever to have arrived in the past, and we crash into an infinity loop in which our villain has one robot, one time machine, and a plan to duplicate them by using time travel.  Further, to move beyond the departure point in 2020 our villain must systematically send back eight, seven, six, and so forth until only the last robot, who has been sent back many times, is the only one which remains, and then one robot continues with the villain into the future.

So he has to be aware of this, and make good use of his robots in 2019 before he has to start sending them back.

I don’t think I’ve answered everything, but I think I’ve addressed everything that matters.  I look forward to Vazor’s response perhaps a dozen years in the future or, if he figures out time travel before I do, a dozen years in the past.

#348: Temporal Thoughts on A.R.Q.

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #348, on the subject of Temporal Thoughts on A.R.Q..

This was running on Netflix, and it appeared to have a time travel element, so I put it on my list of movies to watch and possibly analyze.  The blurb, though, suggested it was yet another Groundhog Day clone, people caught in a time loop, and as temporal anomalies go time loops are pretty boring.  However, a time travel fan sent me a Messenger message suggesting that it was worth watching, so I grabbed my pad and pen and started watching.  My notes cover maybe the first half of the movie before I gave up on them.

For what it’s worth, it’s a decent action film with quite a few twists; this is not a full analysis and I have attempted to keep the reveals minimal.  I immediately recognized lead figure Robbie Amell as Renton from his role in When We First Met where he played heartthrob Ethan; he was also Stephen Jameson in The Tomorrow People and Ronnie Raymond in The Flash, so by now he was a familiar face to sci-fi/fantasy fans.  The action begins immediately, as Renton awakens to see that the clock says 6:16, the girl whose name we eventually learn is Hannah is sleeping next to him, and suddenly the door bursts open and masked men come through, grab Renton and drag him out, there is a scuffle in which Renton falls down the stairs and hits his head, and he awakens back in bed at 6:16 with Hannah lying beside him.

Unlike Groundhog Day, more like 12:01, we gradually learn why time is looping.  It has something to do with the Arcing Recursive Quine, A.R.Q., which is usually referenced as the Ark or Arc.  Working for a massive corporation called Torus, Renton, an engineer, invented something he thinks is a perpetual motion machine that produces excess power.  For what it’s worth, I conceived of the same device when I was in junior high, and when my father pointed out that that was what I had described it was obvious that it wouldn’t work.  His doesn’t actually work, either, but he doesn’t know it yet, and neither does Torus, who wants it back.  Torus is engaged in something called the Energy Wars, their chief adversary being The Bloc.  Renton has it up and running in his garage, monitored by a multi-screen computer system.  He booby-trapped it with an electric charge, and at 6:16 in the morning a member of the team that had come to find it touched it, was killed by the electrical charge, and created the front end of the time loop.

The machine has a motor driven by batteries which are recharged by a generator turned by the motor.  It’s probably not as simple as that, but they figure out that the loop resets at 9:25 because for some reason the batteries fail.  They know that the loop resets consistently at 9:25 because for some reason which the movie ignores the computer is recording the activity of the machine as it goes through every loop, showing that it runs from 6:16 to 9:25 and then again runs from 6:16 to 9:25, repeatedly.  Why the computer’s memory is not erased when everyone else’s is (and the computer remembers more iterations than Renton) is not addressed.  Further, it appears that the loop has been happening thousands of times, so it is remarkable that the computer’s memory has not overflowed.  Presumably eventually it will.

The second time we see that it is 6:16, Renton is the only one aware of it.  He goes through the beginning of the day several times, each time learning more including the first big twist, and each time being killed one way or another, usually shot.  Then suddenly, and perhaps not entirely inexplicably, Hannah awakens aware of what had happened in the previous iteration–only the one, but from that point forward she is aware of each repeat of the loop.  That means that the two of them are now working to make it different, as they uncover additional twists.

Renton and Hannah are arguing about what they need to do, as Hannah wants to give the machine to the Bloc so they have a chance to defeat Torus, and Renton wants to take the machine and run, or barring that to destroy it so that no one will have it.  Their options become more limited when someone they have identified as a Torus mercenary infiltrator (plot twist) in the team becomes the third person aware of the loop.  Now three people are trying to change events as the loop unfolds, each aware of what happened in some of the previous loops.

We are ultimately told that the loop is localized to the house, but we don’t learn from that what’s happening in the rest of the world.  In fact, in the early iterations we hear the same television broadcast several times, so we don’t know whether somehow time outside has frozen and the broadcast repeats because it played in the first iteration, or whether the idea that the loop is spatially limited is wrong and the broadcast is repeating, or whether something else has happened out there.  In several of the iterations the villain calls in a strike team from the company, and in at least one, probably more than one, it arrives, so time within and outside the circle must be connected.

There is a problem that in one of the later loops Renton and Hannah discover a recording they sent to themselves that they do not remember having made, which they later do make to send to themselves.  This is inconsistent with the temporal loop scenario unless they made it in an earlier iteration that they don’t remember, and the content of the message really could only have come from their memories of the loop.

Both sides develop the interesting strategy of escaping a losing situation by permitting themselves to be killed so that when the time expires they will get another try at it.  They reach the conclusion that if they turn off the machine time will continue past 9:25, but only Renton knows how to turn off the machine.

The film ends with another unexplained temporal twist, and the loop continues reminiscent of Triangle.

It is indeed a compelling action movie with several excellent plot twists, and despite the fact that the morning is repeating the viewer rarely knows what will happen next.  I wouldn’t recommend it for the time travel elements, but it’s an enjoyable film well done overall.

#336: Time Trap Temporal Thoughts

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #336, on the subject of Time Trap Temporal Thoughts.

I was looking for a good time travel movie to analyze, and Netflix started pushing this one, so I watched it.

From a time travel perspective, this was not it.  That is, it was a good enough movie and it had time travel elements, but it didn’t really have interesting time travel elements.

It also had a few problems.

I suppose it really begins in the stone age, because we learn probably fairly early that some stone age humans inhabit the cave.  Our temporal instability is inside this cave, but we’ll get to that.  The stone age ended sometime between four thousand and eleven thousand years ago, depending on who you ask, but that probably does not make much difference here.

It will readily be apparent to any time travel fan that the flashing light at the cave exit indicates time passing very rapidly on the outside.  I was surprised at how long it took our seemingly intelligent spelunkers to reach that conclusion, but then, the viewer has the advantage of knowing that this is a time travel story.  What was more difficult was someone’s suggestion that the flashes were not days but the passing of the equinox when the sun was directly overhead.

Clever idea, but the caves are supposed to be in Texas.  On the equinox the sun is directly overhead at the equator.  In fact, it is never directly overhead anywhere in the continental United States but for the southernmost tip of Florida; it “moves” between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, and so is only overhead in points within what we call the Tropics, and even there dependent on the day of the year, twice a year but for the end points themselves, once each on the appropriate solstice.

This is not impossible to resolve, however.  We only need to assume that the entrance to the cave is not perpendicular to the ground but set at a southerly angle such that twice or possibly once a year the sun passes in a direct line from it.  The sun is never directly above Stonehenge, but it frequently aligns with various stones such that light and shadows appear in specific places.  The perhaps more difficult point is that for how fast time appears to be moving, the flicker of light that enters the cave would exist for a shorter period than that of a stroboscopic camera flash.  On the other hand, the alignment need not be perfect, so we would have this flicker at least several days in a row, and while we wouldn’t quite get what we see we would get brief periodic flashes of a brighter light disrupting the ordinary day/night flicker that is too fast for the eye, much like the one hundred twenty cycle per second flicker of an incandescent light bulb.

That raises the question of how fast time is moving on the other side of the barrier.  It is not a simple question.  For one thing, even with a stopwatch it would be difficult to determine how many flashes per second we are seeing.  On top of that, as just suggested, we don’t know whether we are seeing one flash per year or two.  However, we can put boundaries on it.

If we are seeing one flash per second and two flashes per year, then time is advancing at one year every two seconds.  At that rate we move thirty years per minute, and in an hour we will have advanced one hundred eighty years.  That actually could be enough time for humanity to have moved to Mars.  It probably could not be enough time for humanity to have completely lost the English language as we know it, grown to eight feet tall, and evolved very different hand structures and respiratory requirements without genetic manipulation.  (Were you to meet someone from the early nineteenth century, they might be a couple inches shorter on average and their accent would have been funny, but you could communicate adequately–and you don’t have the advantage of entertaining recordings of how they spoke.)

The problem is in the other direction:  in order for the cave men to be alive in the cave, at least four thousand years must have passed outside.  If we are seeing five flashes per second and one flash per year, five years per second is three hundred years per minute, eighteen thousand years per hour.  That would easily make it possible for the cavemen to have arrived three and a half hours ago, and we could assume they arrived as long as half a day ago, still getting their bearings and surprised by these people from the future.  However, at that rate the day after the professor vanished would be only a fraction of a second for him, and his parents could not have been in the cave as long as a few minutes.  The cowboy the professor sees just ahead of him would have had very little head start, particularly since he must have entered after the parents despite the appearance of a nineteenth century gunslinger.

We could probably work out a rate that is between these two extremes which allows for this.  The difficult question is how long the cavemen could have survived, in terms of days, without food.  Yet there is a potential answer to that.  Within the cave there is another temporal distortion beyond which can be seen persons from previous centuries as seemingly frozen from the perspective of the outer cave area as the outer cave area is from the outside.  That section does not have the same problem as this section:  one does not need a rope to enter, nor to exit, and so it is possible that some of the cavemen had moved from the outer area to the inner area, stayed a short time, and came back.  In the few hours they were beyond the barrier thousands of years would pass.  That means that others still beyond that inner barrier might at some time in the future be rescued, if the rescuers remain watchful for thousands of years.  Even with futuristic alienistic humanity, that doesn’t seem particularly likely.  Larry Niven was sharp enough to recognize that when his future society sent ram ships to explore distant stars traveling at near-light speeds, their pilots would return to a humanity thousands of years future of their departure time, and so to a completely different society.  Anyone who spends as much as half an hour inside the outer cave would return to a very different world beyond.

Which brings us to The Rescue.

The first odd aspect of the rescue is the ladder.  It is presumably made of some futuristic material that would withstand the anticipated stresses, but there are still some significant points.  Whatever is at the top of the ladder has to be stable, unmoving relative to the interior of the cave.  Yet the air and the dirt and even the continent itself are moving, and those motions are going to impact any object fixed above the cave by any means.  We can minimize such movement, but over the course of a day there would be tiny shifts for which the system would have to compensate, and those shifts would create vibrations in the ladder.  They might be too high to hear, but someone touching the ladder should be able to feel a tingle from it.  We don’t know that they didn’t, of course, but it wasn’t noted.  Further, if the ladder is touching the floor, it’s going to wear a hole in the floor fairly quickly from those vibrations.

It was, however, the suited man himself which bothers me.  He descends the ladder and then does not explore the cave but rather walks directly to the pool of water to bring back a sample.  Further, not only does he know where this water is located, he knows that it has healing properties, because he puts the injured person in it to bring about his recovery.  Where does he get his information?  If someone had previously entered and mapped the cave that accurately and reported the quality of the water, and successfully exited again, it would have to have happened before the parents entered or the parents would have been rescued in the process.  Such an exploration could not have happened in the centuries following the professor’s entrance because between the professor and the students someone would have seen an explorer.  We might plausibly suggest that something like ground radar or sonar was used to plot the caves, which might even have revealed the position of water sources within them, but it would not have told them anything about the water there.  The actions of the suited man do not make sense, in the sense that there is no plausible basis for his apparent knowledge.

Of course, also, his brief visit to the cave involves many years passing on the outside.  He uses up his time, presumably the life support in his suit, and it is unlikely that such a suit would be functional for less than an hour.  As we noted, that would be minimally one hundred eighty years, and probably considerably longer.  It’s quite a project, although if we assume successful life extension technology it might be the equivalent of a quarter century of our lifetimes.  That’s still a very long mission.

The tentacles have a similar but more complicated problem to the ladder.  They have to have their control circuits in the tips so they can function on the temporally slowed side.  Further, it is difficult to imagine a mechanism that would permit them to function on both sides of the time barrier without stressing themselves at the point of crossing.  Of course, they don’t have to work for long on the slowed side, but the minute or so that they are snatching the people is again several years that they are extended.  When the second group reaches the ship, the first girl rescued should look considerably older.

These are really all minor quibbles, and perhaps there are aspects we don’t know.  If the ship is equipped with a system that lets it do what the cave does, and so matches its time flow to that below, it resolves some of these problems.  If the life extension technology can be applied to a girl around twenty effectively, she might well have stopped aging in the years before the others were rescued minutes later.  I will always be bothered by the acts of the future explorer, because I don’t see any way to reconcile his knowledge to the events prior to his arrival.

I tried to watch it a second time and could not persuade myself to do so, so it is possible I missed something significant, but hopefully this is adequate for the purpose.

#330: Temporal Notes on an Episode of “The Orville”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #330, on the subject of Temporal Notes on an Episode of “The Orville”.

A long-time early fan of Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies (and contributor of Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies Unravels The Final Countdown) contacted me via Facebook Messenger to ask a question about a particular two-episode time travel story arc of a television show.  I have made it clear that I don’t do analyses of television series, but given that this was one question about one episode of one series, and I was probably going to have to answer him in a post that would have been too long for that medium, and I have been neglecting my time travel audience to some degree, I decided to bring it over here.

We will begin with his post, with minimal edits marked:

Have you watched the tv show The Orville?  It’s sort of a self-aware knock off of Star Trek.  They’ve had at least a dozen Star Trek actors in cameo roles in the first two seasons.  Anyway, there’s a time travel story.  I’m going to try to present it to you with as few spoilers as possible, in case you’ve not seen the show.

So, in one episode, the ship hits a temporal anomaly in space which causes the seven-years younger version of the ship’s first officer to be sent forward in time to land on The Orville.  Episode proceeds, she’s eventually given an unsuccessful memory wipe and sent back in time.  They attempted to wipe her memory so that she could not affect the future.  But it didn’t take.  So she changes history such that The Borg have conquered The Federation.  (Not exactly, that’s the spoiler-free version of the story[.])

Next episode, seven years later.  The Borg have conquered The Federation.  She remembers that time trip and realizes that it was her tampering that caused it.  So she rounds up everyone from The Orville.  This time, they send back the doctor (A Star Trek DS9 Alum) to do the memory wipe correctly.  Timeline restored.

Under your theory, once she travels into the future, the future self no longer exists, correct?  It would be as if they went to New Jersey for seven years, only they didn’t age.  So there can’t be two of them in the future.  (That’s not a spoiler, You’d have seen it coming[.])

What about her knowledge?  There’s no reason to think the younger version wouldn’t always be sent into the future.  And there’s no reason to think the memory wipe wouldn’t take.  So the last problem is the doctor going back to redo it.  Anomalies you can see?

But the lady was questioning that.  “If she’s younger me, then why don’t I remember any of this?”  And eventually concludes that she doesn’t remember it because the memory wipe must have been successful.  No reason to think she wouldn’t still think that.

Based on what I’ve said, what are your thoughts?  I think it resolves, except for the first officer being there.  What difference does that make?  I’m not 100% I agree with your theory there.  If she eventually will go back in time, why wouldn’t two of them be there?  But anyway.


So that is the question.

First, my wife and I enjoyed the first season of The Orville when FoxNOW was a free service on our Roku television.  When they went to a subscription service, well, it didn’t seem worth the money to subscribe for the sake of only one show we were at all likely to watch, and a good but not great one in our assessment, so it was forgotten.  The time travel arc was not included in what we watched.

The statement that the older version of the first officer would not be in the future is partly correct, but it’s more complicated than that.

One of the problems we have is a problem with the fact that this is a television series.  I am assuming that the event which moved the first officer to the future occurred prior to season one episode one.  That would mean that she never boarded The Orville, and thus all of the episodes we have watched are wrong.  The older version of herself is not there because she never was there; someone else is first officer, and all the espisodes to date have to be re-imagined to include this other officer.  Our time traveler will not, in this original history, meet herself, but will find that she has no history for seven years.

There would be no problem if they simply found a place in their time for this traveler from the past, as Starfleet did for Dr. Gillian in Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home.  The trouble begins because they decide to send her back, and once you send anything into the past, you alter the past and create an anomaly.  Remember, no one even imagines that this time traveler might have been their first officer, because she never was.

We also hit our first real complication here.  The writers want us to believe that returning the first officer to the past restores the original timeline which we saw in the previous episodes, but that because she remembers the future the timeline is altered.  In fact, she never was the first officer on The Orville, and so the history created in which the Borg conquer the Federation is the first history in which she is present, and it is her presence (rather than absence) which causes the change.

The obvious solution would seem to be not to send her back–but it’s too late, because that would create an infinity loop (see Temporal Theory 101 and 102 for explanations of the anomalies and terminology):  if she does not go back, the Borg do not rise to power, and the crew of Orville have no reason not to send her back, so she will go back, causing the rise of the Borg, leading them not to send her back, in a repeating cycle.

We will have to assume that their analysis is correct, that the Borg rise to power because of something she remembered about the future that was not eliminated by the mind wipe.  It is a very improbable analysis for them to have made:  no one in the future remembers any history other than the one in which the Borg rise to power, and so it should not occur to anyone that sending the first officer back caused this, and even less likely that they would believe it was because of a failed mind wipe.  However, we have another set of complications here, tied to an unanswerable question:  why did she land on Orville when she traveled to the future?

I suspect that what the writers thought was she went to the coordinates of her older self.  That does not work, though, because she had no older self in the original history and so could not go there.  Our questioner has suggested that the older self would be there because the younger self is going to travel to the past, and that would work in a fixed time theory universe–but this is not fixed time theory, because they change history more than once.  Before the younger self departs for the past it is possible that something would prevent that, and therefore we have to finish the history which terminates with that departure before we can begin any history in which there is an arrival in the past.  The older self was not there in the original history.

It might be argued that she went to The Orville because she, her younger self, was on The Orville when she was transported to the future, and so using a frame of reference theory that’s where she went–but it does not appear that she was ever on that ship prior to the first episode of the series, so that theory won’t hold.  Note that if this trip to the future happened during the time covered by the series, we would have seen it happen in a previous episode and had to deal with her disappearance then, even if we also had her reappearance which altered history.

I am out of potential rational explanations, and am forced to suggest that of all of the vastness of space she managed to appear not floating somewhere in the empty vacuum but on a ship to which she had no known connection somewhere in that vast vacuum.  She rolled a googol-sided die and got a perfect result.

That gives us our complication, because the entire history of the universe has drastically changed following her return to the past, and there is no reason to suppose that The Orville even exists in this new world, or that it has the same crew or the same mission or is within a thousand light years of the same location.  Yet when our time traveler leaps forward presumably from before those changes have been made, she must land on the same ship in the same location.  If she doesn’t, of course, we have an infinity loop; but even if somehow she does whoever is on that ship has to make the same decision to send her back at the same moment.  Further, they must fail to wipe her memory in exactly the same way, despite the fact that everything else in this universe is different.

So we assume that against incredible odds our time traveler who has not yet caused the rise of the borg lands on the same ship in the same place and is sent back at the same time to the same time.  Yet even with all this, we’ve got a disaster.

Our assumption is that having leapt to the future, the officer learns perhaps many things about the future.  Somehow at least one of those things remained in her memory when her mind was wiped, and that one memory caused a drastic change in history when she acted upon it in the past.  However, her duplicate self arriving in the future is in an entirely different future.  The odds that she would learn the same single thing that changes history are, once again, drastically against.  It isn’t just that she is unlikely to land on the same ship, or that the ship is unlikely to have the same crew.  Even were we to grant those improbable outcomes, we cannot escape the fact that this ship and this crew are the result of the seven years in which the Borg rose to power and conquered the Federation.  There is almost nothing significant our time traveler could have learned about the original history that would be true in this altered history.  Apply mind wipe, and send her back to her own time, and how is it even possible that the one thing she remembers is the same thing that created this Borg-dominated history?  Yet it must be so for the story we are given to be true, and if it’s not so then the Borg will not rise to power in this new version (in which the time traveler came from the Borg-dominated future) and we have, again, an infinity loop.

So somehow against such incredible odds our time traveler is returned to her own time with exactly the same retained memory and so causes the exact same history–the N-jump we need to save time.  That gives us a future; it is the future in which the Borg dominate the universe.

Somehow the crew of The Orville decide that this is wrong, and that it must be this way because the memory erasure didn’t work properly.  They decide this despite the fact that not a one of them has any notion that history every has been or could have been different than it was, that the Borg defeated the Federation in the only version of history any of them has ever known or experienced.  Maybe they have an alien aboard who, like Guinan in Star Trek:  The Next Generation, can simply sense that this timeline is somehow “wrong”–but in that case it will never sense that it is “right”, because it can’t be corrected, and the “right” timeline, the original history, is the one in which the young first officer never returned to the past.  Still, somehow they decide that the rise of the Borg to power is not the original history, and then they add to that that it was caused by the young officer’s trip to the past, and then that the reason she altered history was not because she hadn’t been there and now was, but because she remembered something she should have forgotten and acted upon it changing the past.  They have absolutely no evidence to support any of these conclusions, but that’s what they conclude.

Having concluded it, they decide to do the most foolish thing anyone could possibly attempt to do in time travel.  They decide to fix history.

The problem is, either you will succeed or you will fail.  If you succeed, you eliminate the problem that caused you to try in the first place, so you won’t try, so history will revert to the version in which you do not make the trip to the past to fix it.  Thus the best hope is that you will fail, and that therefore history will continue as it was.

In this case, apparently they succeeded.  Not long after they sent the officer back with the faulty memory wipe, they sent a doctor back to do it right.  He succeeds, with the result that the Borg never rise to power.  We can assume that all of history moves much as it did, but when we reach the moment when the doctor has to depart to fix the problem, that problem does not exist, because it was already fixed.  That means that they don’t know the first memory wipe failed, or that the Borg ever rose to power, and they don’t send the doctor back to fix it, so it doesn’t get fixed, and we have an infinity loop.

There is one more minor issue in all this.  In the version we are shown the older first officer says, “If she’s younger me, then why don’t I remember any of this?”  We don’t know in which history she is supposed to have said this.  In the original history, she doesn’t exist.  In the second history, in which the Borg rise to power, she should remember whatever it was she remembered seven years before, and the consequential rise of the Borg, and possibly even recognize her fault in this.  In the history created by the doctor, she would not remember it because that second mind erasure worked.

So in conclusion, the time travel foray by The Orville was a temporal disaster several times over.  Of course, we can sort of forgive this because the show is something of a parody.  I’m just glad I was not subjected to having to watch the disaster unfold on the screen.