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Temporal Tension: Time Travel’s Killer Side Effect

Temporal tension can rip the universe apart. Well, not really. At least it can in the time traveling novel series, The Shadows of Time.

In a previous post, I showed three theories for the grandfather paradox in time travel (How to Time Travel and Not Kill Your Grandfather). In that post, I said the theory used in The Shadows of Time series is the multi-verse model. Now would probably be a good time to show a new concept I created for this series: temporal tension.

Temporal Rift


Whenever you go back in time, you spawn an alternate timeline. In the original history, you didn’t go back in time. In the second history, you did. When history splits like this, it creates ripples in spacetime called rifts.

The size of the rift is directly proportional to change made in the past. In other words, if I go back in time and take a paperclip out of the pile in my desk drawer, probably no one would notice it. Life would go on. History would not change. In this case, the rift is small and temporal tension is low. But if I went back in time and took my computer, well then. That would end the free world as we know it. Okay, probably not, but things would change, and so the rift would be bigger and temporal tension would be higher.

temporal tension - distorted clocks

Temporal Tension

The Sittiri call it temporal tension because, just as opposite magnetic poles pull together, so do events under temporal tension. If I were to extend the stolen computer example far into the future, you may see my point. Ten thousand years after my computer disappeared, what would it matter? The history of the universe at that point would probably look the same whether I lost my computer or not. This would be true for most events.


Temporal Superposition

Spacetime mends itself via temporal superposition if it has been split. The time required for this self-mending is directly proportional to the size of the rift. Over time, histories will come back together. Temporal superposition is like quantum superposition except it’s more timey-wimey.

dark clouds over a city about to be devastated by a tsunami

The Impasuko

But if there are too many overlapping rifts, a cascade event occurs and permanently rips the fabric of space-time in that region. (Technically, this happens when temporal tension density exceeds spacetime elasticity for the local region). The Sittiri call this ripping the impasuko. Although he impasuko never happened, Sittiri temporal physicists have created multiple models that predict the ripping is more than theoretical. The impasuko is a point of no return, but theorist disagree on what the laws of physics would be like after the impasuko. Most models suggest that the new universe it creates would not be compatible with human life.

shadows on the wall of a creepy room

How Fear of the Impasuko Drives the Sittiri to Action

Because the Sittiri, Key’ari, and other Avarian factions are the descendants of the Avarian time travelers, their actions can spawn new timelines.

The Key’ari don’t believe the impasuko will happen, so they don’t care about rifts. Most of the Key’ari believe the Impasuko is only Sittiri propaganda.

The Sittiri do everything they can to avoid and correct rifts.

  1. Their Bureau of Temporal Corrections monitors tension around the globe, and alerts field operatives if they detect spikes.
  2. The Sittiri avoid creating rifts by listening to the Voice, following guidance from other Sittiri, and gauging tension with their onyo. More about the onyo in anther post.
  3. They use the Ox Shalay to determine what events must take place to facilitate to speed up temporal superposition.
  4. Because mending time rifts is such a delicate task and has the potential of making more rifts, the Sittiri use blender bots. These androids were first employed during the Avarian Time Wars and now serve to clean-up the mess they helped make.

To see temporal tension in action, check out the novels in The Shadows of Time series.

Published inNovelScience Ficiton

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