"The Axe" is one of my rarer attempts to write humorous speculative fiction. There was an illustration on the Hit Record site asking for people to write about an axe-wielding character. I used that as a prompt and wondered what it would be like to receive a magic axe that had been passed down for generations in secret.
I have been fascinated with time-travel for quite a while now. I have been playing around with a variety of theories I've read about. They have me teetering between the multiverse option and the conservation of matter and memory/immersion considerations. In "The Axe," I opted for memory retention but immersion. Let me explain the possibilities:
One of the enduring problems of time travel theory we often refer to as The Grandfather Paradox. If you go back in time and kill your grandfather, would you poof out of existence? Would you go on existing without a grandfather in your past, either in this universe or another you created when you modified history?
The multiverse explains quite a few of the paradoxes. When you go back in time, you don't go back into your history. You go back into a history in which you popped out of existence in your pre-travel present and appeared as an older man to the you native to that time. If you go back prior to your birth and kill your grandfather, it doesn't matter because the one who provided the DNA for your parent still lived long enough to bear children in the timeline you left. Important to note: you will have created a timeline in which you really ruined your grandmother's life.
Other theorists have suggested that on returning to the past, you would simply enter the awareness of yourself at that earlier time. It's sort of a memory transplant. The earlier you suddenly is aware of his or her future life. Instead of creating a new universe, you go back in time like a do-over. This is called immersion, because you enter the past as yourself at that time, not as a new visitor. Some theorize that going into the past leaves you gradually or instantaneously with no memory of your future. In that case, traveling to the past is useless, because you are unlikely to do anything differently.
I'm working on a non-sequential novel called "Time Bump." In that universe, time travel paradoxes are common, and you create a new timeline every time you enter the fourth dimension. It defies another time travel paradox, which is often called "first cause." In the story, the main character starts time traveling because a much later version of himself time traveled, making him so invaluable in the future that he was rescued from the shorter-term future when he was about to get killed. In rescuing him, his future saviors create a "time bump," or a paradox that causes him to start time traveling in the past.
Very interesting, Mark. Thanks!
You can read "The Axe" at Electric Spec starting on May 31, 2017.