Enjoy an exclusive guest post from Daniel M. Kimmel, author of “There’s No Time Like Home,” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
I love time travel stories, especially ones that get into the paradoxes and conflicts that would arise if such a thing was actually possible. In my second novel, Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel (Fantastic Books, 2017), I made a point of skewering as many of the clichés of the genre as I could.
When the call for submissions for On Time went out, I tried to figure out if I had anything left to say on the subject. As it turns out, I did. For only the second time in the more than two dozen stories I’ve had published, I set “There’s No Time Like Home” in the world of one of my novels. It was an interesting challenge in that I had to make sure the story worked for people who hadn’t read the novel, while at the same time making sure it was consistent with what I had already written. (I had a renewed sympathy for Isaac Asimov having to go through all his Foundation stories when writing a new one.)
Cort, the protagonist of my short story, was originally intended for just one scene in the novel. The time travel device has a limitation in that one can only go so far into the future. This serves to prevent people from gaining knowledge that they could use to their advantage in their own times which would, of course, change the time stream. Cort works for the Temporal Port Authority, and his job is letting time travelers know when they’ve gone too far in as genial and non-threatening way as circumstances permit. One of jokes is what he has to do when people aren’t easily persuaded.
In the short story, Cort gets to test those limits himself, and discovers a surprising loophole, one I hadn’t considered when writing the novel. It’s my hope that, as with most of my fiction, the story makes you laugh but also that it gets you a bit misty-eyed as well. I still get a bit choked up when re-reading it. It was one of those times where the story wasn’t planned out so much as unfolding as I was writing it, with the characters taking me where they had to go.
There are times when writing can seem like an almost mystical experience where I’m as surprised as anyone else that the resulting story came out of my imagination. I’m really pleased with the result, and I hope readers will be, too.
Daniel M. Kimmel is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award, given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He was a finalist for a Hugo Award for Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and other observations about science fiction movies and for the Compton Crook Award for best first novel for Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide. He is the author of Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel and Father of the Bride of Frankenstein. Among the outlets for his short stories have been the Transmundane Press collections After the Happily Ever After, On Fire, Transcendent, and In the Air.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.