Saturday, 22 December 2012

Time Travelling Novella Written

Hi Guys,

Just time for one more post before Christmas, and thought I'd use it to let you know that the time travelling bug hit me again.

This time it was the bootstrap paradox that dominated my thoughts again, and in particular one scenario that I previously raised in my posts on time travel paradoxes. I won't give the plot away, but in essence this is the story of mankind's first chronosphere as it undertakes the greatest ever mission of exploration, the journey to the begining of time. The big bang. But of course things don't run smoothly!

This is a novella that I've just sent off for editing, and should hopefully be out on the kindle before the end of the month.

Other than that I thought I should just wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year, and hope that 2013 (now that we've got through the end of the world as the Mayan calander ran out of dates) will be a great year.

By the way, not saying that I ever believed the prediction for the 21st, but does anyone know where I can flog a slighty used bomb shelter and a million freeze dried RTE's?

Merry Christmas, Greg.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Time Travel Paradox - Can A Woman Be Her Own Mother?

Hi Guys,

I was going to continue with the next installment in my Alien Spotters Handbook in this post, but a few days ago in one of the other fora I engage in someone came up with a brilliant time travel paradox riddle, and I felt the need to write about it. Besides the dark vans with the tinted windows outside my house every day, and the men in dark suits with the sunglasses, were becoming a pain! Maybe they'll back off now!

Anyway the riddle that was asked was can a woman be her own mother through the aid of time travel? And the scenario given was this: A woman meets a man, gets pregnant by him, travels back in time, gives birth, and leaves the baby on someone's doorstep. That baby then grows up to become the same woman, gets pregnant, and then repeats the entire cycle.

This is of course a variation on the bootstrap paradox, in that messing around with time only occurs to the woman because she has already messed with it. Thus lifting herself up by her own bootstraps as it were.

Now to look at this juicy little conundrum, I think it's important to first point out two obvious issues. First, at some point in time, in fact for a whole nine months, this woman is actually going to be carrying herself inside of her. The other issue is that this is an obvious case of incest, since this child is going to grow up to have sex with her father! These are both strange and ichy issues, but not really relevant.

What is relevant is as I've said in previous posts, the fact that this scenario does infact make that entire period from the woman's conception, through her time travel into the past as a foetus, until her getting pregnant in the present, completely determined. For this entire period there can be no free will, no random chance. Everything must happen through this period as it happened before.

The reason for this is simple, genetics. In every conception there must be an egg and a sperm joining together, and in every ejaculate of a man, there are millions upon millions of sperm. Now in order for this woman to be her own mother, genetically she must be identical. That means that exactly the same sperm and the same egg must join. The chances of that happening, even if the conception happens in exactly the same way, on the same day down to the second, are of course millions to one. And if a different sperm makes it through, then the new baby will not infact be the woman that is her mother, it will be the sister (or brother) of that woman.

As any change, even the slightest one could theoretically change which sperm is successful, there can be no variation.

So for that entire, say twenty five tears, every free will choice anyone made, could not have been truly free. Because on each repeat of the cycle through time, they would have to make exactly the same choice. Every random event during this time span, could never have been truly random. Because on every repeat of the cycle, the same results would have to follow.

Anyway, that's my take on the paradox.

I'll try to get my next post out before Christmas, once more returning to the Alien Spotters Handbook (Men in Black - I'm just kidding! - Oh and please stop going through my rubbish. I did think it was the papparazzi but they've denied it!)

But if I don't, and lets face it, I also want to get the next novella in the Wizard at Law series out by Christmas as well, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy holidays.

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

It's Bloody Done!

Hi guys,

Yes, as the title so crudely puts it, Days of Light and Shadow has finally been finished and put out on the kindle.

I'm sorry it took so long, but as I said previously this was a book that just seemed to grow and grow, and what I thought initially would be a normal enough length for a fantasy novel, ended up at two hundred and fifty thousand words. Far larger than I expected. But then as I have said elsewhere, my writing style is that of a panster (writing by the seat of my pants!) not a plotster. The best I can hope for as I write is that I have a rough idea of where the book is going. (And sometimes I'm wrong even in that!)

Anyway I finished the first draft a few weeks ago, got my sister to do an edit on it (she's an English lit sort of a girl with a far better eye for detail than me - but don't tell her I told you so!), and then spent three frustrating days with the track changes feature of Word. - That has to be the most horrible edit feature of any program I've ever used. Your eyes go screwy as you spend ages struggling over every little letter and space in the text.

Then, after a couple more days doing the format edit and checklists etc, at midnight last night I knew I was ready, and went to publish it on the kindle. Of course even that wasn't straight forward, and after three attempts lasting until dawn this morning, while the little wheel spun around and around telling me it was uploading the text, (the wheel lies!), I went to Kindle Boards. And there some wonderful man suggested a complete restart of the computer and wiping the cache, and behold - the fourth time it worked!

So that's been my night - and my day. Currently I'm overwhelmingly happy, but exhausted, and even after a nap I don't think I can write anything more today.

My plans at this stage, (yes I know, my plans usually come to naught), are to finish off the second book in the Wizard At Law series before Christmas. It's only forty thousand words and almost complete, so even for me it should be possible.

So that's it for me for the day. Next time I'll return to the Alien Spotter's Handbook.

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Alien Spotters Handbook: Chapter Two.

Hi Guys,

Finally finished the draft of Days of Light and Shadow and sent it off for editing. 237,000 words of blood, sweat and tears, and I'm sure my fingers have grown shorter over the previous months from all the typing!

So now while I've got a little time up my sleeve, I thought I'd return to my blog on spotting aliens among us.

The Alien Spotters Handbook:
Chapter Two: Personal History.

Ok, so you've got some questions about your co-worker. You think he's a little strange. That he smells odd and does weird things. He's always watching everyone. And that odd palor. You think he might be from somewhere a little further away than Kansas. So how else might you check if he's literally out of this world?

Well personal history is always a good guide. And it's not as if you'd be snooping if you asked him about his family or where he's from. This is all the normal stuff that people ask about their friends and colleagues.

So what can we be reasonably sure of when we ask an alien about his personal history?

Well for a start he'll have one. It would be a very foolish Martian who came to Earth to study us and had no background. In this he'd be no different to a spy sent in to a foreign land to steal secrets. If he had no background, he'd stand out, and no spy, and I assume no alien, wants to stand out.

But his personal history will have to be different from yours or mine in several key areas. (Unless of course you are from another world!)

For a start there'll be no real way of checking it.

Consider the situation when you go for a job interview. The panel ask you about your work history and your schooling and so forth. All perfectly reasonable stuff. But our alien can't really have this. After all it's highly unlikely that he grew up in Kansas, went to school in Mrs. Meg's School for Oddballs and so on. Certificates of achievement can be faked. Databases can be corrupted. And we assume that people who can travel light years can do these sorts of things. But how would they fake the actual life history of someone who wasn't there?

The answer is that they couldn't, and so most likely, they wouldn't.

Instead they'd do the next best thing, make sure that their personal history couldn't be checked. So expect their personal histories to include details of growing up in strange little out of the way places. Places so remote that it would be a near miracle if they ever ran into anyone else from them. In fact they may well have histories that include growing up overseas. (It would explain any issues with accents as well.)

Likewise their schooling. Since they would not have been on Earth as children, their schooling would have to be a fake as well. Otherwise it'd be simple to just ring up the school and ask if they have a yearbook from 1987 with lots of photos. So what would be the chances that the school burnt down, was closed, or that the teachers they mention have all retired or passed away?

Then there's family. We all have families, and I assume that aliens do too. But their family is likely sitting on another world. So the only family members they could list would have to be fellow aliens also on Earth. Family who I would guess, would also have similarly uncheckable pasts.

Further, those family won't include children. Who would bring a child to an alien world full of strange people that know nothing of aliens?

Work history is another likely problem. Granted they may be posing as young adults, relatively new to the workforce. But if they aren't, the question becomes how long were they planning to spend on Earth as they continue their studies? My guess, a few years at most. So any work history prior to that would again have to be fake. Again think companies that have gone out of business, bosses who've retired, overseas employment. Anything that would make it impossible to check.

So there it is. Another Archilles Heel in the alien's library of techniques to hide in plain sight. So if you do have doubts about a friend or colleague, why not just ask them the normal things you would ask of anyone else. Where's you grow up, go to school, work before coming here?

But be warned. He might not be an alien after all. He might be James Bond!

Cheers all, and good spotting.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Alien Spotters Handbook - Chapter One.

Hi Guys,

Thought I'd turn my attention to a new topic. How to spot an alien. I mean we all know that there are funny lights in the sky, and only some of them can be swamp gas. So maybe some of them are actually people from other worlds come to buzz the locals. Maybe have a little nosey at the primitive monkeys. Possibly preparing to invade. Or maybe preparing a literally out of this world time share offer!

Are they here? I don't know. (Of course even if I did know one of those top secret agencies that doesn't exist would probably make sure I couldn't tell you). But if they're visiting us then it stands to reason that after a long trip they might have got out of their little space craft to stretch their legs (if they have legs), and maybe to do a little research.

So they could be walking (or floating, slithering or hopping) among us, and assuming their tech is good, we might not know. Or would we?

Got a neighbour that's a little off? A workplace colleague that seems to study you a little too closely for no obvious reason? A weird guy down the road that the dog always barks at? How do you know that he's actually from around here? That he's not from somewhere completely other?

Well here's my thoughts on how to spot someone who's not nearly a local.

Chapter One: Medical.

We've all seen the shows on telly, aliens who live among us and look so very normal. But as anyone who's had plastic surgery will tell you, you don't have to look like you. And let's face it, wandering down the street with your antennae hanging out is likely to attract attention.

Now if we can do plastic surgery and make your next door neighbour look like a supermodel, what sort of reconstructive surgery could the doctors of an alien race do? Chances are that they could make those antennae and that green skin simply dissappear. But cosmetic surgery is only skin deep. And remember, Doctor Who has two hearts, Mr. Spok has green blood. Changing those sorts of things is far more complex.

So what does that tell us about any aliens walking among us? How does it help us spot them? Simply put it means that unless their medical tech is uber, uber advanced, they aren't going to want to let anyone poke around too closely. After all a cosmetic surgeon could probably spot skin grafts and scars from surgery. A dentist could notice unusualy shaped teeth. An x-ray might spot extra ribs and odd shaped bones. An MRI would detect organs that shouldn't be there. And blood tests could give you everything from strange cells and odd biochemistry to DNA which doesn't match anything on Earth. If they even have DNA.

So how do you find out if your creepy neighbour is from Epsilon and not England after all? Check his medical records.

An actual E.T. is unlikely to visit the doctor for any reason. At least not your local doctors. He may have some reason for that, a religious objection to medical intervention, by which I mean practically any medical intervention. If he needs a medical for work, the chances are he'll have one from a doctor who can't be reached and practices perhaps in another country. Flu shots every year? Maybe or maybe not. After all what's good for us could be lethal for him. Dental appointments? It seems unlikely. And he absolutely will not be a blood donor.

Even the hairdresser might be out, since they might be able to spot the difference between a wig, hair transplants and normal human hair.

It could go further than that too. Personal health services such as a manicure etc? They could be risky since the level of close personal contact could be dangerous. Massage therapy? If you were an alien would you really want someone putting their hands all over you and wondering why you have muscles in strange places and your vertebrae feel odd?

So that's the first step in the identification, my fellow alien spotters. Good spotting and watch out for ray guns!

Cheers, Greg.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Days of Light and Shadow: Chapter One.

Hi Guys,

Sorry its been so long since I've posted (I have a feeling that this is becoming a mantra for me!). But I have an excuse. I've been busy writing Days of Light and Shadow, and finally the end of the book is in sight. It's been like climbing a mountain, not that I have ever or would ever do that.

So I thought in this post I'd give you all a sneek preview at what's in the book - the first chapter. Please note this is only the first draft and it hasn't been even through the first edit, so apologies for the typos etc. Also this chapter contains a rather brutal rape scene which sets off the entire tale, and though I've done my best to keep the gory details out of it, it's still not something I would recomend for children etc.

Let me know what you think.

Chapter One.


Elwene was kneeling in quiet prayer at the Altar of Rose Fury, trying to feel the spiritual power of the Mother upon the spot, but mostly enjoying the warmth of the spring day and the sweet aroma of the flowers. Blue tufted geese flew through the skies above, honking their strange song for all to hear, while on the ground a few leap rabbits were busy hunting for tasty treats.


They were cheeky creatures, too bold by half, especially in the Grove where they knew they were safe, and if you weren’t watchful, you would turn around to find your lunch gone. Some had even had their lunches snatched out of their hands as the little thieves struck while leaping past them with all the magical speed they were famed for. But that was no great hardship in this place of plenty. Maybe it was even a reason to give thanks to the Mother for the endless wonder of her world. And for her touch on this special grove.


She didn’t truly know if the Mother heard her quiet words, or if she cared, but in the end Gaia was life and the rest didn’t matter. It was enough just to feel her presence all around and dwell in that pleasure. And Wildwood Rose Grove was filled with her presence. As had been all the other wild groves she had visited over the previous weeks.


Often she wished that her brother knew the same joy, but he didn’t and she feared that he never would. Since their parents had died in a tragic riding accident and he had been elevated to High Lord, he seemed to understand little but power and anger. And by the laws of primogeniture he had the first in large measure while grief had granted him the second. It was as if with their deaths, they had both been transformed. Elwene had found her calling, and maybe in a few more years she would enter the priesthood, in time becoming an elder. Sadly Finell had found the darkness of pain and grief instead, and the need to lash out at others. And it wasn’t helped by that black hearted advisor of his. Between the two of them they had transformed Elaris into a much darker place.


Soldiers on the streets everywhere, their silver chain blackened with pitch to make them seem more frightening. A prison, a place of darkness and fear, built in the very heart of Leafshade. Why did they need such a place? But the two of them had swiftly provided the answer as Finell enacted more and more unfair laws. Laws that penalised the innocent if they were not of the seven great houses, and especially if they were not of elven blood.


She still didn’t understand that. Why he’d turned in such a dark direction. It was as though he blamed the outsiders for their parent’s deaths. But there was no reason to, it was simply an accident, and Finell would not speak to her of his heart. He spoke to her of very little. They lived together in their family home, the last remnants of their immediate family, saw each other daily, and should have been becoming closer because of the tragedy. Yet the fact was that he seemed more a stranger with every day that passed.


He was no closer to the rest of their family. He loathed their Uncle Tenir, probably because he was the First of House Vora and so in some respects his master. But he hid it well. For a while she’d hoped he was becoming closer to Uncle Brettle in Heartwood Grove. The two were closer in age then others in their House. He’d even spoken about going out hunting with him one day. But then Brettle and his wife Claudine had been trampled to death by a rampaging fell ox and that hope had quickly died.


Some days it seemed that fortune did not favour them. That House Vora was slowly  dying. Illness and disease stalked their elderly. Misfortune preyed on the rest. It had just been another sad chapter in their house’s never ending book of woe. But still another terrible accident in the family, so soon after the death of their parents. It must have crushed Finell. And even before that when their grandmother Varla had passed after a short illness, he had been hurt.


As she often did Elwene said a small prayer for her brother as well, in the hope that he would one day return to the light, and with him the realm. But she wasn’t hopeful. His road had become too dark for too long, and his return would be hard.


“Lady Elwene!” The sound of her attendant crying out her name distracted her and surprised by the commotion, Elwene looked up to see Terra running for her. Running hard.


The sight annoyed her briefly. It was wrong. People didn’t run in the sacred grove. This was a place of tranquillity, a place where a woman like her could spend some quiet time in contemplation and study. It was not the sort of place where people ran and screamed. And yet something in the way she screamed, in the rush of her sandaled feet upon the ground, spoke to Elwene of fear. But what was there to be afraid of? Nothing in this place surely.


Heartbeats later she looked beyond Terra’s frantic dash to the tree line at the edge of the glade, and it was then that she understood her desperation. Brigands!


It couldn’t be, but even as she watched she saw them emerging from the depths of the forest on their horses, brandishing their weapons, and galloping for the assembled priests and elders engaged in their rituals. They in turn were only just beginning to realise that something was wrong. But reactions dulled by years of prayer and disbelief, stopped them from doing the sensible thing, and running. They needed to. No one in the grove carried a weapon. It would be considered an insult. And their magic was limited. They were priests not war-spells


Then the first of the riders reached them, some dark weapon in his hand, and he galloped straight through the middle of them, screaming at the top of his lungs and swinging wildly. But there was no lack of direction in his aim. The blade hit him square in the back. Blood sprayed in a gory fountain from the very first blow, she could it see it so clearly against the starched white linen of his robe, before the priest fell to the ground, either dead or terribly wounded. But he was only the first.


More brigands reached the priests in mere heartbeats, descending on them like a pack of wolves, and she could see the blood spraying and the people falling everywhere. She could hear the screaming too. Men and women, many of them elderly, frightened and confused as they ran in all directions. But they couldn’t escape. They were too slow. Far too slow. The brigands were on horseback, and charging down those who ran with war cries on their lips.


Soon it became a sport for them as they shouted to one another about each new murder, celebrating their evil.


The brigands knocked them over with their weapons, and then when they were down, their horses trampled them with the steel shod hooves as they rode over them again and again. Some few made the distant trees, but they were few, and many of them were wounded. And even there they weren’t safe. Several of the bandits were taking aim at them with crossbows, bringing them down like wild animals for the pot.


Terra was taken that way. One moment she was running for her, screaming in terror, the next she had fallen face down into the grass, a crossbow bolt in her back. Elwene could see the look of horror and disbelief in her dying eyes, just before her face hit the grass.


“Mother bless your children.” Still kneeling in front of the small shrine at the far end of the valley, Elwene uttered her frantic prayers, as she suddenly realised that she had to run too. She was only still alive because she had not been noticed, as she remained so still, away from the others. But that would not last. Already she could see some of the black armoured brigands looking her way, and soon she knew, they would be coming for her as well.


Terrified, she took to her heels as quickly as she could, heading for the trees, but expecting with every stride to feel the pain of a crossbow bolt embedding itself in her back or an axe cracking her head in two. She had never been the fastest runner, she had never had either the need or the desire.


“And where might you be running to My Lady.” She heard his mocking voice, saw his steel clad arm reach out for her and tried to dodge. But she was far too slow and he had her by the throat before she could even scream. She hadn’t even realised that, as she’d watched the others being slaughtered by brigands coming from the southern end of the glade, some had been creeping up on her from the north.


“Leaving us so soon?” He laughed some more, a dark and terrible sound more suited to a troll than a man. But he was surely as large as a troll, and just as powerful. And he stank like one as well. But worse then that, his men laughed with him, enjoying their game, and she knew that they had evil plans for her. The sister of the High Lord, she realised that it was no coincidence that they had come for the priests here and now. They had come for her.


The black clad giant started dragging her back to the centre of the glade, and all her dead friends, laughing with every step he took. Laughing and telling her exactly what he was going to do to her.


Elwene screamed, or she tried to, but his armoured fist was tight around her throat, blocking off her precious air, and what came out was a gurgling sound. And though she used her fists against him, they were equally useless. He was dressed from head to foot in black metal and chain, and flesh could not stand against it. All she did was hurt her fists. But that didn’t stop her trying.


Soon, though it seemed like an eternity had passed, he had her back in the middle of the glade, and she could see the bodies all around her. Her friends and fellow priests, respected elders, decent elves, their bodies broken and torn as though by wild animals. She could smell the blood. The beautiful green grass was covered in it. Their perfectly laundered white robes were drenched in it.


Then he lifted her up, one handed, and smashed her back down on the alter stone, hammering her so hard that she very nearly passed out. But he wouldn’t have cared if she had. Neither would she. It would have been a mercy. He wanted only one thing, and it was too horrible for words. And still it was happening. Holding her down against the cold stone with his hand around her neck, he tore her robes off her, yelling madly with every piece of linen that came away in his hands. Soon there was no more, and she was lying there on the cold stone in front of him, naked.


“No.” Somehow she managed to squeak out the word, but it made no difference. He just laughed, even as he loosened the draw string that held his britches up.


“And now my lady -.” He mocked her some more as he kicked off his britches, and she could suddenly see everything she had never before imagined, never wanted to. “If you could scream a little more. There are still a few of your useless piss bearers hiding in the woods, and Yaris wants them to see everything.”


Yaris? Even in her fear the name caught her attention. The dark robed little military advisor to her brother? She didn’t understand. And then she did. He was an evil little man. A dark hearted beast that walked as an elf, and no doubt he had plans for her brother. Terrible plans. And she understood one thing more in that final moment of painful clarity. If his servant was happy to use his name in front of her, then he had no intention of letting her live.


Despite it being exactly what he wanted her to do, she screamed then, unable to help herself.


She screamed a lot more as well as he committed his vile acts upon her, and all the while the dark armoured man laughed and his darker master’s plans came true.


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hi Guys,

Just a short note to let you know how things are progressing. I just realised that it's been over a month since my last post and I've been somewhat remiss in my duties to this blog.

Days of Light and Shadow is continuing to be written, but every day that I write it seems to get longer and longer. The pains of being a free form writer as opposed to someone who writes to a plan.

Currently its over two hundred k and though I think I've got the back of it broken, there are still another ten chapters at least to write before it goes through its first edit and proofing. At some stage I have the very real fear it may have to become two books simply because of its size.

Other than that life goes on. The back of winter has finally been put behind us, something my toes are infinitely grateful for. There have been far too many frosts this year, and my power bill will be unthinkably high. But of course with the advent of spring comes the storms, and we've had a few of those already. One of them tore my gardens apart pretty thoroughly.

One of my cats, Brutus decided to develop a psychosomatic injury. Maybe he's playing the sympathy card. All I know is that he started limping very badly, a couple of weeks back. And as always it was on a weekend. Naturally being the sap that I am I took him to the vet on a Sunday - why is it always on the weekends? An x-ray and two hundred and some dollars later he was sent home as having a sprain. Four days later, having recovered not at all, and having had my neighbours at my door worrying about him, I took him to my own vet. Another x-ray, another two hundred and some dollars, and this time some pills, anti-inflammatories, and he was sent home with 'just a sprain'.

This time however, when I parked the car in the garage, he decided to do a little running away, he's not a natural driver. And as I watched him sprinting away I suddenly realised that he didn't have the slightest trace of a limp! Since then it's been on again off again. He limps when he wants to as far as I can tell, usually when he's after food, playing on my sympathy. I'm thinking he's been taking acting classes behind my back!

So that's been my life of late. And sorry, I now don't have a date for when Days of Light and Shadow will be ready.

Cheers, Greg.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Current Work In Progress.

Hi Guys,

This time I thought I'd return to my writing. Its been a while. So I thought I'd give you the cover and the blurb for my current book - Days of Light and Shadow. In this book I've returned to my love of traditional fantasy with elves and dwarves and magic etc, but I think woven a slightly darker tale. At present its a little over a month or so away from being finished, and as always all comments happily received.

The High Lord’s sister has been brutally raped and slain. An act of unspeakable foulness. Her brother Finell sits upon the Heartwood Throne, filled with grief and rage. His heart knows only the unelven need for vengeance. A need that will threaten a war of extinction against the humans. At his side his advisor Yaris works diligently to bring that war to life in the most terrible way possible, as he plots to take the throne and cleanse the world of human kind.

Arrayed against them a few innocents will have to stand, alone and unready. They will sacrifice all and they will be sacrificed in turn upon the altar of hatred, and still they will have to stand.

And all the while the spider demon eagerly awaits his feast of souls.

Cheers, Greg.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Bell's Palsy and Me - Not a Love Story.

Hi Guys,

Once again no time travel post this time, as once more life has intruded. This time it took the form of Bell’s Palsy, a rather frightening looking condition that causes paralysis of the face, just one side usually thank goodness. But still waking up one morning three weeks ago to find that the right side of my face had started sagging set my pulse racing and made my palms sweat more than a little.

Naturally being of middling years and advancing waistline, my first thought was that I’d had a stroke, and I raced down to the emergency department where I spent an exciting few hours being asked all sorts of embarrasing questions and being poked and prodded. Eventually though they kicked me out with a scrip a mile long and the comforting words that it would probably come right in a few weeks or months. It was the ‘probably’ that didn’t impress most.

Still some valuable life lessons were learned and I’m trying to lose weight and do a little bit (sadly a very little bit) of exercise.

By the way if any of you should wake up one morning with half your face paralysed as mine was, my advice is to scoot down to the emergency department as fast as you can. It may be this, and by gosh you should hope and pray it is, but it could also be a stroke and that is a medical emergency.

Now for the fun stuff. What’s life like with Bell’s Palsy? And believe me it has been an experience.

First, it looks bad. Actually it looks worse than that. I personally don’t spend a lot of time looking in mirrors, - most of them aren’t wide enough to properly reflect my full beauty, but I did after this happened. Mostly out of horror. You see the facial muscles aren’t just paralysed, they sag, especially around the mouth, and you end up with a shocking droop. This looks worse when you try to speak since only one side of your mouth works, making the problem even more obvious.

In my case I slurred my words for a few weeks, a little like a drunk, but regrettably without the alcoholic high to make it all seem so much better.

The good news is that it doesn’t hurt, at least at the start. However for me as my seventh nerve has slowly started working again, I’ve been experiencing pins and needles around that side of my face. My right eye also hurt, though that was due to the eye drying out as I couldn’t close it properly. They gave me eye drops and cream for that, and a patch that I refused to wear. My pirate days are behind me! It was easier to tape my eye shut at night and keep using the drops during the day.

Taste was and still is compromised as half of my tongue had also stopped working. This is a difficult thing to explain, but the best way I can describe it is to say it was like having a small sheet of cling film over my tongue. It felt distinctly odd. However, a lack of taste also helps with the diet, which is a good thing in my case.

Eating and drinking were embarrasing. With half my mouth including my lips not working, I tended to chew like a cat and occasionally food would fall out of my mouth. Drinking was worse as I dribbled like a baby. Now, three weeks on, this is much improved, but I still wouldn’t go out to eat in a restaurant. By the way, the pain nerves aren’t affected by the condition so when I bit my tongue or my lips as I often did, it still hurt.

Hearing is the other thing that went weird. My right ear became hypersensitive, but not in a useful bionic ear sort of way. I can’t hear people whispering about top secret conspiracies a mile away. Rather every time I coughed or sneezed it was as though someone had fired a cannon on that side of my face. And regrettably this hasn’t changed. Yawning is also fun as it sounds like a thunder storm coming.

It’s the social side of things that bothered me most though. People stare, they can’t help it I suppose, and friends ask stupid questions. The one thing I have learnt out of this is that I am just as self conscious as anyone else. So much so that I took the traditional male route to try and hide it. I started wearing sunglasses and growing a beard. In short I started to look like Cousin It. Usually I don’t do either, as sunglasses irritate the bridge of my nose and beards itch abominably.

However, now that my mouth is almost straight again, I’ve shaved off my facial hair – my Mach Three nearly died in the process. It was a balancing act between trying not to look like a freak and trying not to scratch my face off and I’ve finally reached the stage where I can stop scratching.

Anyway, that’s been the story of my last three weeks, and I hope that if any of you come down with this truly strange condition or have friends or family who do, you’ll be a little better prepared to handle what comes.

The good news is that the stats are good. Not great but good. Eighty percent of people who develop Bell’s Palsy will make a complete or good recovery within a matter of weeks or months. The bad news is of course that some won’t, and also that something like seven to fifteen percent of people will get it again at an average interval of ten years. Still that's another decade away!

The great news though, is that it’s not a stroke.

Cheers, Greg.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Time Travel - Movies - 7 Days

Hi Guys,

Back to my time travel theme again. This time 7 Days. (Yes I know it wasn't a movie it was a tv series, but I still think it had some interesting insights into time travel and paradoxes.)

7 Days for those of you who aren't familiar with the show, was a sort of time travelling adventure series in which our hero Frank Parker was sent back in time seven days to undo the various calamities that kept destroying the world. And it did raise some interesting questions. Would Frank ever win the heart of the lovely Olga? (No.) Would the right wing reactionary Ramsey ever show a human side? (Actually yes, briefly.) Would the world ever stop blowing itself up in some new way? (And what did they do before they had project Backstep?)

But as well as these the show did point out some interesting aspects of time travel. For a start, and the reason a chrononaut was needed to pilot the ship, the Earth is travelling through space, spinning on its axis and orbiting the sun, while the entire solar system is itself travelling through space. So to go back in time seven days is to potentially arrive at a point in space many tens of thousands of miles from the Earth, unless you can somehow adjust for this movement, and so travel through space as well as time. Few other movies, books or tv series have considered this issue.

The series also showed the Butterfly Effect in action, in a somewhat amusing fashion, as our dashing Chrononaut goes back in time to undo some calamity and also places a bet of a football game, only to discover that his money has been wasted. The changes he made somehow affected a completely unrelated event, i.e. the game.

But the series also raised some time travel related questions, and chief among them, where was the other Frank Parker? If he goes back in time seven days, then surely he should be in a time period when a previous version of himself was living. Yet he never met himself. So did the original Frank vanish each time he arrived? Or were multiple copies of himself living on the Earth in secret?

The fuel source was also another interesting puzzler. Ignoring what it was, one of the limitations of time travel was that each trip used fuel and they only had a limited supply of it. Yet that makes no sense. He kept going back in time seven days, and at that point the fuel he used to make the journey was still there. It had not been used. So potentially they had an unlimited supply of fuel and never actually had to worry about using it up.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed the series but always found these questions in the front of my mind whenever I watched an episode.

Cheers, Greg.

Friday, 25 May 2012

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Burger Joint.

Hi Guys,

No time travel this time. Travel of a differnt type but equally unsuccessful.

Yes I had a car crash about two weeks ago (and no that isn't my car or caravan - it's a brilliant photo I found on the Photo Morgue). Thirty years of driving without a crash and then a drunk woman smashes into my rear end. Go figure!

So here's the juicy details. No one killed, though my back which was already damaged from a ruptured disc and slowly recovering, has taken a serious knock. I've been unable to sit down for any length of time until now. My car which is sadly old and not worth a lot of money, teetering on the edge between repair and write off. My nerves somewhat shattered. Burger and fries for Thursday forgotten about. Burger king out by maybe ten bucks.

As for the crasher. A young woman, mother of two, drinking on a Thursday evening at seven pm. Driving with no licence, in a car she didn't own, and that wasn't insured. Driving with no lights on, distracted by the mobile phone, failed to stop at the red light at which I was idly twiddling my thumbs waiting for the green. Honestly if there was another mistake that she could have made that evening I don't know what it was.

And what have I learned? I'm reliably informed that whenever something bad happens you should always try and learn from it. So here goes.

1) Follow Brady's Law at all times. You know Murphy's Law of course - anything that can go wrong will go wrong and usually at the worst possible moment. Brady's Law is that Murphy was an optimist! So be prepared.

2) Carry your mobile phone with you at all times. I can't tell you how much I missed having the cell with me on the side of the road as a hysterical woman driver kept apologising and calling everyone to say that she'd had a crash save the police, no matter how many times I asked her to.

3) Be insured. I may have to pay an excess, don't know yet, but at least other then that three or four hundred bucks or what have you, I shouldn't be too much out of pocket. And if the worst happens and the car's written off, at least I have a little cash in my pocket to go shopping with.

4) Takeaway foods are bad for you!

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Time Travel - Movies - The Bootstrap Paradox.

Hi Guys,

In this post I'm going to look at one of the more interesting paradoxes often seen in tales of time travel - the so-called bootstrap paradox.

This paradox occurs when objects because of time travel actually have no origin. No beginning. There are a couple of variants. The first is the reverse grandfather paradox, where instead of the time traveller going back in time and killing his grandfather, he has intimate relations with his grandmother and ends up becoming his own grandfather. Fry from Futurama did this after accidentally killing off the man he always believed was his grandfather, in essence meaning that when he was born he actually had no grandfather. (I have to admit I quite like Futurama.)

But the concept is probably best seen in the movie - "Somewhere in Time." Christopher Reeves meets an old lady somewhere in the future, and she gives him a watch. He then goes back in time and meets her as a younger woman, and gives her back the watch, so that she can then complete the cycle and give it to him when she's older again.

Now the heart of the paradox here can best be understood if you ask yourself one question, how old is that watch? The answer is that there is no answer. There can be no answer. As far as can be determined the watch never began. It simply arrived at some point in time and then kept re-arriving there. So from some perspectives the watch may be ageless, it may also be all ages at the same time, and from other perspectives it could actually be infinitely old. After all if you stop at any point along the time continuum during the period when the watch is in either character's hands, you have no idea how many times its been through that cycle - old lady to young man to young lady to old lady to young man etc.

There are of course more violations of physics than just this occuring. For a start the watch is not aging as it goes through the cycle. If it was, even very very slowly, the watch would eventually turn to dust, and the old lady would have nothing to give the young man. But of course that would also mean she could never have received it as a young woman and the paradox / cycle could never have begun.

So the watch has to somehow be unaffected by time. But more than that it has to be completely unaffected by everything. So if the woman became angry one day and threw it at the wall, it might chip the wall but could never in turn be chipped by it. Because if it were, then with every repeat of the cycle that chip would become worse. Theoretically therefore the watch actually must be indestructible.

And of course if the watch was a wind up type, the coil could never be overwound so as to damage the watch and stop it working.

I wonder how much someone would charge for a watch like that? (Though of course the watch could never be sold since it has to be back in the old lady's hands later on to give to Christopher Reeves. - Maybe you could borrow it though?)

Cheers, Greg.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Plea For My Friend - Helen.

Hi Guys,

A bit of a change of theme in this post. No time travel, but in a very real way this post does concern time - the time we have available to us.

A few weeks ago an old and dear friend passed away after a year and a half long battle with cancer. It was a long and a difficult fight that she waged with her disease, and it took a terrible toll on her even before it finally killed her.

But this post isn't about the battle. And it isn't even about Helen. I could write a book about her and still never find the right words to praise her for the intelligent, warm and witty woman that she was. It isn't even about the prevention of cancer and the terrible waste of lives caused by smoking and bad diet etc. Helen's cancer wasn't one of those cancers associated with lifestyle choices. This is purely about taking care of yourself medically and seeing the doctor when you're ill.

Helen had ovarian cancer. Its a type of cancer that's often referred to as a silent killer - silent because you don't know that you have it until it's advanced. It is symptomless, or so they say. In fact the first symptom my friend took seriously enough to visit the doctor for, was shortness of breath. This was caused by a secondary tumour growing so large that it was actually pressing on her lung. By then of course, it was too late.

But there were other symptoms. Ovarian cancer isn't truly silent. It's just that its early symptoms are vague and often mistaken for other things. Things that people often don't feel the need to visit the doctor for.

Symptoms, and this is taken directly from the American Cancer Society website, are seen in the early stages of the disease, even before the cancer has spread. They include:

Pelvic and abdominal pain,
Trouble eating or feeling full quickly,
Urinary symptoms such as urgency or needing to go often.

And the advice that they give is that when the occurance of these symptoms is unusual, when they are present almost daily, and when they last more than a couple of weeks, that should be a warning sign to women to visit their doctor and get checked out.

It's highly likely that these symptoms will be due to other more minor ailments, but for those unfortunate few who do have early stage ovarian cancer, an early diagnosis is everything. The sooner you catch it, the better the odds of beating it.

So that's my plea on behalf of my friend. Don't ignore minor symptoms. Don't simply assume they're signs of a tummy bug or what have you. If they're unusual for you, if they aren't going away, if they're happening daily, please go and see your doctor.

Remember the old mantra - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Time Travel - Movies - The Time Machine.

Hi Guys,

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Life intrudes as it so often does.

This time I'd like to turn my attention to movies and some of the ways in which writers and directors have looked at time travel, both the paradoxes it creates and the ingenious ways in which they try to get around them.

In this post I'll look at the movie The Time Machine, based on the book by HG Wells. It's important to note that I'm talking about the movie since it takes a departure from the book in several important aspects. In the case of this post, it's in the way that the hero is prevented from changing the past.

As those of you who've seen the movie will know, the hero is prevented from saving his fiancee by the intervention of time. Every time he goes back in to the past to save her, he is prevented by the machine never arriving at the right time. The reason given is that since he invented the time machine purely to be able to go back in time to save her, if he then saved her he would negate his reason for inventing the machine in the first place. In short he would create a paradox.

On the face of it this seems like a cunning plan to prevent a paradox from occuring, but it leaves us with two problems. The first is of course, how does the machine know? Or failing that, how does time know? Conceivably he could be going back in time to do any number of things such as investing in a company who's stocks he knows are sure to rise. So how does the machine know that he is going back in time to save his fiancee? The fact that it does know implies that the machine or time is both sentient and probably telepathic. It knows his plans, knows it will create a paradox, and actually works to prevent them.

The second problem is much more difficult to get around. There were multiple ways in which he could have saved his fiancee. His plan which was very simple, was to go back to that point in time and rescue her from the gunman. But he could have done a great many other things to prevent her murder. He could have gone back a little further,perhaps to that morning and rearranged her day so that she would not be walking along soon to become crime scene later on. He could have gone further back and arranged for her to be perhaps overseas on a holiday at the time of her impending murder. Assuming the gunman was later identified he could have gone still further back, and had him arrested, prevented him from getting hold of a gun, or even stopped him from being born.

All of these actions would of course have created the same paradox, and so presumably the time machine or time itself would have had to have stopped him. But how? The machine would have had to have known at every step what his plans were. Or it could have simply prevented him from ever going backwards in time at all. In the end to completely prevent paradoxes from occuring it could only have done it one way, it would have become a one way time machine - it could only go forwards.

I'm sure you'd agree, that's not the sort of time machine we want to imagine.

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Time Travel - Killing Hitler (part two). He had it coming!

Hi guys,

In my last post I looked at the ethical implications of killing someone (Hitler) through the use of time travel. In this one I intend to focus on the practical.

Clearly the thought behind going back in time and killing Hitler before he rose to power, is that by preventing a great evil, you could make the world a better place. (Unless of course the time traveller has some other nefarious purpose in mind!). My question for today, is would this in fact, make the world a better place?

It's plain that Hitler's rise to power led to both the holocaust and world war two. A great many lives were lost, many more were damaged through the horrors of war. There can be no arguing this. However looking back from 2012, it can also be seen that a great many global and social changes were wrought because of both the war and the holocaust. Some of these have been positive, some negative, and some are yet to show their full impact. Here I'll list just a few.

i) The United Nations. In 1946 the old League of Nations was dissolved and the United Nations formed, with the intent of bringing the entire world together in one body and preventing forther wars. It clearly hasn't succeeded completely, the advent of the cold war effectively stymied things for nearly fifty years as the world was divided into two sides, but since 1991, this has not been the case, and the UN has started flexing some muscle in peacekeeping. Hopefully this role will grow as the twenty first century unfolds.

ii) The World Bank and the IMF. Both of these have arisen from the UN and out of the ashes of WWII, and both have a goal of promoting economic stability and aiding in the development of the poorer nations. Again their work is far from done, we have recently experienced one of the worst crashes in eighty years, but they have both shown that they can be a positive economic force.

iii) Israel. Obviously the impetus for the creation of the state of Israel came from the holocaust.

iv) Women's liberation. The emancipation of women began long before WWII, and as a kiwi I am proud that the suffragette movement succeeded in bringing the right of women to vote to New Zealand first. However, WWII brought a huge boost to the movement as women were asked to work in factories and on farms etc while the soldiers were away fighting. In doing so, women showed that they could work in the same industries as men, and that they could be just as productive.

v) Nuclear power. The Manhatten project may have created the nuclear bomb, but the advent of nuclear technology has brought many more applications than just weaponry. This includes the nuclear power that provides energy to many countries around the world, nuclear medicine where radionucleotides can be used to aid in scanning bodies for illness, radiology and of course radiotherapy to fight cancer.

vi) Rocketry. At first flush this might seem a small thing. We discovered how to launch missiles and send men into space. But consider the huge benefit that the development of satellite technology has given us. Everything from the GPS in your car,and satellite tv, to whole new advances in our understanding of not just space, but the Earth itself. For example, would we even know that there was a greenhouse gas problem and global warming if satellite technology had not been used to show global temperature and ice flow trends?

These are only a few of the things that have arisen from the ashes of WWII. There are of course many more, such as the reunification of Europe and the adbent of the jet engine which boosts international travel and tourism.

Some of these things would have come about by themselves in time. The emancipation of women for example was a movement that had begun long before WWII and which would have surely continued without women being forced into the workforce during the war. But how much longer would it have been before this became accepted?

Others might or might not have come about at all. Would Europe have reunified without WWII? Would the United Nations have formed, or would the far more limited League of Nations continued?

And then of course there is the other question that we cannot even begin to answer. If WWII had not happened, what would have been the world's path. The answer is that we simply don't know.

My point in discussing these things is simply to show that even out of the worst events in human history, good things can come. In killing Hitler and preventing WWII we place the good as well as the bad at risk. So the usual claim that killing Hitler and preventing a great evil would make the world a better place, can't just be accepted at face value. The truth is that we do know that good has come from this evil, and we have no idea at all what might have come to pass had WWII not happened. And we have even less idea of what may still be coming in the future as a result of it.

In conclusion, if we had the power, going back in time to change the past with the view of making a better world, would in essence be gambling.

Cheers, Greg.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

More Time Travel - Killing Hitler.

Hi guys,

Well it's been another week, and truth to tell I haven't written a heck of a lot. Partly it's just that I'm still fatigued from completing Pawn, and partly it's that I simply can't decide which book to work on. There are about five in the nearly complete stage at the moment.

So I thought I'd return to my time travel posts, and this time look at one of those old movie scripts and ethics questions that keep coming up. If you had a time machine and so had the power to go into the past and change things - would you? Should you?

I'll deal with this topic in two instalments since it's somewhat complex. In this one I'll only look at the ethics of the act. Or put another way, if you had a time machine and could go back and kill Hitler, or if you're squeemish, prevent him in some other way from rising to power, would that be the right thing to do?

On the face of it, it would seem ethically sound to stop a madman from rising to power starting a world war and murdering millions of innocent people. And if you knew now that someone, say your next door neighbour, was set on this course, you would probably feel the need to intervene in some way. But that's not the situation we face in this situation.

Here we are talking about undoing something that has already been done, in the hope that we would create a better world. I will leave the question of whether this would actually create a better world for my next post. For this one, it's only about the ethics of the act and its forseeable consequences.

Now my money on this is that to change the past in such a way would be morally wrong. Not because of some poetic idea of the sanctity of time etc, but purely because the act itself, would be murder. Even if you used a non-violent system to prevent Hitler from rising to power, it would still be mass murder.

My reason for saying this is essentially a take on the butterfly effect, that is one small change in the past, can make a huge change in the future. In this case, even though Hitler did terrible things which could presumably be undone, he changed the entire world, and more importantly, the people that make it up.

Here I'm not speaking of attitudes, or the rise of fascism, or anything like that. I'm speaking simply of the consequences of what he did, having been fashioned into the essence of probably nearly every man and woman alive today.

Consider this. I would not exist today had Hitler not risen to power. No more would my sister. The reason for this is simply that our parents met after the war,and had the war not happened, they would never have met. Now you may say that I have a vested interest in this, and you would be right, I do. But so does almost every single person on Earth.

The war changed things on a global scale. It caused people in their tens of millions and more to travel around the world, some fighting, some fleeing. It created uncertainty in nearly everyone else, and worried people are likely to have sex at different times and in different places, and with different partners then they would were they not worried. To put it more bluntly, there's - I'm worried sex, and I'm too worried to have sex, sex. There's I'm leaving to join the army sex, and you're here and he's away in the army sex. I think you can get the picture.

As I've previously said, to make even the tiniest change in the world of someone potentially about to procreate, is to essentially alter the course of that procreation, and essentially change the person born. In short, if the wrong sperm fertilises the wrong egg, which could happen for almost any reason, a different person is conceived. When you have world wide changes happening that effectively completely transform procreation by altering times, dates, and even partners, then you have to expect that those changes will transform the world.

The conclusion from this is apparent. Had Hitler not risen to power and started world war two, then nearly everyone on the planet under the age of say eighty, would not exist. Assuming though, that things progressed similarly, those say six billion people like you and me who would not exist, would have been replaced by a different six billion people. So in terms of total loss of life, assuming no major changes, there would be seven billion people alive today. They just wouldn't be us.

So given this situation, what are the ethics? For me it's fairly obvious. Take time out of the equation and ask yourself this question. If there were a machine in existence today, that would kill one person, but create another person for everyone that died, would it be right to put someone you don't like into that machine? The answer of course is generally no. You can't commit murder to create a life. Adding in the mechanism of time travel doesn't change this.

Now some will say in the new world that is created there would have been no murder. And that's actually correct. For those people on the alternate time line, we would never have existed. We would have been undone. But that doesn't alter the fact that at some point, someone went back in time and essentially murdered six or seven billion people.

Anyway, there's my take on the thorny question of changing the past and killing off even an evil mass murderer like Hitler. In a nutshell because it kills the innocent as well, it's wrong. And the fact that you can create an entirely new time line where the undone never existed, doesn't change the fact of what was done.

Next post, assuming something else doesn't come up, forgetting about the deaths, would killing Hitler actually create a better world?

Have a good day.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

What's in a name? - Trouble!

Hi guys,

As you may know I published Pawn (Not Porn you naughty people) a little over a week ago. And funnily enough I've already struck trouble.

*Spoiler alert ahead* Now I should advise that there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven't read the book and are planning to, please don't read any further as some of the plot will be given away.

My dilemma began when I introduced a character into the book, Agent Dike of Interpol. I knew at the time that her name would upset some people. Unfortunately I also knew that her name was the one I had to use. Because agent Dike of Interpol is also the ancient Greek Goddess of Justice - Dike. I didn't make the name up.

When I realised that I had a problem with the name, I went through all my possible options in detail, and none of them seemed perfect.

My first option was to make a name up as I do with many characters. Unfortunately when the book revolves around characters from Greek mythology, introducing a fake god would have been a cheat at the least - and I can imagine that many readers who are far more into their mythology than I, would have complained.

My second option was to use another god or goddess, and there were a couple that I could have tried. The first was Themis, the goddess of divine or spiritual justice. The problem was that she was the wrong woman for the job, since the crime being investigated was strictly a mortal one. I could also have used Justitia, the Roman goddess based on Dike, but there were two problems. The first being that she was Roman not Greek, the second that her name would have given much of the plot away.

My third option (grief there are far too many numbers in this post) was to use a phonetic spelling.Though her name is written as Dike in English, it's mostly pronounced Daikee (though I have seen other phonetic versions). This is the option I chose, after receiving my first bit of feedback about the book, and I went with Dikē. (I hope that this symbol survives the blogging process - but if it doesn't it's an e with a flat line across the top.)

My hope with this is that the name will now no longer be read as having the connotation of a woman in authority having a nontraditional sexual orientation, but that it will still be close enough to the correct name that those who study Greek mythology will not be upset by it.

So there is my problem in a nutshell. And to my readers I do hope that you realise that the name used is not any form of attack upon women in positions of authority or women with nontraditional sexual orientations. It's simply the correct name for the character.

Cheers, Greg.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Time Travel and Free Will.

Hi Guys,

Just finished off Pawn (finally) and put it out on to the kindle thingie, and so since I had a little time on my hands (no pun intended), thought I'd return to my time travel theme.

This one is not a paradox so much as a simple logical incompatibility between two ideas. Time travel and true free will.

First, to set the scene a little, a short definition of true (or libertarian) free will. In essence this view of free will says that our decisions, what we choose to do are completely free, and that if we were somehow to rewind the universe a little bit and face the same choice again, we could legitimately make a different choice. In order to do this, libertarian free will requires that that part of our minds that makes some choices, exists outside of the bounds of the normal universe. (No I'm not talking about a drug induced state!) But in essence, it says that our decisions have to be based on something other then the chemicals in our brains, the atoms and molecules of the universe and all of those other physical things that we know exist. Because if our free will, our decision to choose was based in a part of our brain that was completely predicted by these things, then if we rewound and reran the universe all over again, we could only ever make the same choices. Thus our actions would be completely deterministic.

There is a model of free will that is compatible with a deterministic universe - oddly enough it's called compatibilism. And it says yes, our every decision, choice etc is based completely on physical things like brain chemistry and atoms and fields etc, but we still believe we can make free choices. The fact that if someone could somehow know the position and movement of every atom etc in the universe, they could predict with one hundred percent certainty our every choice, is irrelevant. (I tend to think of this as the illusion of free will. It's free in as much as we think it is.)

Anyway enough said about free will, and sorry for the lecture. Now to time travel and why it completely opposes true free will.

So let's say that a time traveller from the year three thousand goes back in time to three thousand BC, a short six thousand year romp. Sounds good doesn't it? But what our time traveller has done in taking this journey, is fixed every single possible action for the entire six thousand years. Absolutely everything that occurs during that time must be fixed exactly so that by the time the year three thousand AD arrives and we're at the point where he's ready to jump back in time, he must be at that point. Every change he made in the past, must have been made for him to be there.

Sounds confusing I know. But let's look at it in another way. Our time traveller goes back to three thousand BC. At that point we know that everything at three thousand AD must be as it was when he left. So if he makes a change in the past, it must already have been part of the universe that led to him being able to jump back in time.

So now he's back in three thousand BC, and as luck would have it, he stubs his toe on a rock. It hurts and he yells out, and a couple of people see him, and maybe laugh. That's the entirity of the change he makes. Sounds like nothing. But it's not. That tiny change would have profound consequences up the line. So say one of those people who laughs is a girl, and when she goes home that night she tells her hubby of it. He laughs too. Then they make love and start the baby factory rolling. Now because of that laugh, that one minute of story telling, they make love one minute later than they would have if he hadn't stubbed his toe. One minute, seems like nothing doesn't it? But this is the butterfly effect in action. One minute and one sperm out of fifty million swimming merrily away as it hunts down the egg. So what are the chances that the same sperm that fertilised that egg in the time line before the man arrived to stub his toe is the same one that arrived in the next version? One in fifty million more or less. Different sperm - different person being born. And of course that new baby grows up in the past to do different things to what the original person would do, and the changes multiply, until finally when the year three thousand AD arrives, the time traveller doesn't exist. That can't happen.

So the only way around this problem is to have the order of past events between the year three thousand BC and the year three thousand AD absolutely fixed. Not a single iota of variation can occur. This in turn means that every change the time traveller thought he made in the past wasn't a change at all. It always had to happen in order for the time traveller to be there at the right time ready to jump back six thousand years.

So stubbing his toe wasn't a change. It had to happen. The girl laughing wasn't a change. She had to laugh. The baby being concieved a minute later, actually had to be conceived at exactly that time after all. And the wrong sperm fertilising that egg was in fact the right one after all.

And as for the rest of us and the belief that we have true free will. If a time traveller could actually leave from our future and arrive in our past, then we simply can't have such a thing. Because every action we take, every choice we make, has to be the exact one necessary for that time traveller be there in the year three thousand ready to jump back. Even if we have no direct connection tothe time traveller.

Now imagine that someone from the very end of time, say forty billion years or so in the future, goes back to the very beginning. Now the entire span of the universe is fixed.

Anyway I think that covers the basic idea. Time travel does not allow for the possibility of true libertarian free will.

Feel free to ask questions or tell me I'm wrong.

Cheers, Greg.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Time Travel Paradox

Hi Guys,

Thought I'd take a short break from editing to post about one of the many time travel paradoxes out there. I find these things fascinating by the way, even though they fairly much establish that no meaningful form of time travel will actually be possible.

This paradox which I encountered through my time on the philosophy forums, isn't the classic killing your grandfather one, or the butterfly effect. It's the violation of the laws of conservation of mass and energy. (Sounds boring doesn't it - but it may still be the most telling damnation of time travel of them all.)

In essence we have all heard the old saw, energy can neither be created nor destroyed only transformed. And of course the same applies to matter, and thanks to Einstein we now know that matter can be converted to energy. Regardless what all of this means is that if in the universe there are x tons of matter and y joules of energy, the total of the two cannot change. There will always be x plus y in total. (No maths I promise.)

Time travel violates this law directly. In essence it says that if you live in a universe with x plus y and someone goes back in time, then suddenly you have less matter and energy in the present, and more in the past.

Ok, so that's the boring stuff part of the paradox. It seems minor even if it breaks the law if an eighty kilo man with so many joules of energy suddenly vanishes from now and arrives a hundred years ago. It's just a law isn't it? Well no.

To understand this problem let's look at it in an extreme example. So say we have one destination in the past where people want to go, and of course the crucifiction stands out for both the religious and the non. Now I get in my machine and travel back two thousand years. A little more then eighty kilos (I refuse to say how many more) of me leaves 2012 and arrives at year 0 AD. And of course because I've learned my ancient tongues and am wearing the right clothes no one notices me. Harmless right?


I go back from 2012. But so too does someone from 2013, and someone from 2014 and someone from 2015 - I think you get the picture. Now assuming that mankind continues sending one person back to Calvary every year and our civilisation survives another thousand years, that's now another thousand people wandering around that hilltop, all trying to pretend to be locals. But these as you will guess are extremely conservative figures. Assume now that once the machine is invented more then one person wants to go back each year, and then allow for the fact that the Earth will hopefully survive, with people on it, though they may not be entirely human, for the next billion years, and they all want to visit that one hill at that one time.

That's hundreds of billions of people, and getting back to the conservation laws, hundreds of billions of tons leaving the future one by one, and arriving at one time and place. A hundred billion tons is a small mountain, and the heat energy alone given off by so many people - well have you ever been to a rock concert in the cold night air and felt somewhat warm? Under that sort of weight the ground itself would start to fail and if they all jumped at once, it would shake too. If they cried out, the sound would be deafening. In short it would be a disaster.

But now take a more extreme example. The big bang. Scientists tell us that it began very, very quickly, a matter of a few seconds. And from it we know the entire universe was created. So now we have an event that people from every race and every world over all say thirty billion years of the life of the universe would want to visit. (In their spaceships naturally since there would be no air.) Can you imagine what the effect of trillions or more, spacecraft and passengers all arriving at one spot at the exact same moment would be?

I can't. Unless of course that was the cause of the big bang itself?

Anyway, just some random thoughts. I should get back to editing.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Sidetracked again!

Ooops! I've been a bad bad boy.

I was supposed to be editing Pawn as you know, but somewhere along the way I got side tracked, and instead created a new cover for Maverick.

I liked the old one, it seemed moody and magical and woodsy which was what I was aiming for. But I did get some feedback that it was too dark and hard to make things out. So hopefully this new one is more appealing.

As usual the three photo's used in it are from the Photo Morgue, I used Paint and Photoscape to edit the details, and then the magical effect is from a program I found on line called Dreamlight Photo Editor.

Still it's back to editing now.

Cheers, Greg.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A New Year Has Begun - Let's Hope It's A Good One.


First, happy new year to you all. And let's hope that despite all the horror stories, 2012 is not the end of the world!

For me it's started off well. I got a great review for All The Stars, for which I am as always grateful, and despite my natural inclination to gluttony, did not over indulge (too much) over the holiday period. Moreover Pawn has gone through its first draft, and is now seventy two thousand words long, despite the fact that I was supposed to be pruning it. Another couple of weeks and it should be on the virtual bookshelves.

I have to admit that I'm still staggered by the speed with which the book has flown off my fingertips and on to the keyboard. I've never written so much, so quickly. But I did some googling, and despite  my belief that it's been a sprint, it's still quite slow compared to some. I did find one man who wrote a ninety six thousand word novel in two weeks, he had to to achieve his publishing deadline, and Michael Moorcock was said to be writing a book every ten days at one point in his writing. Apparently I'm really just a slowpoke.

Anyway, I must return to my writing, but I'll leave you all with this New Years thought.

"May you live as long as you want to,
                                    - and want to as long as you live."

Cheers, Greg.