Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Timothy Leary, Batu Khan, and the Palimpsest of Universal Reality

Over on the story preview page we have another Blast from the Past, a novelette entitled "Timothy Leary, Batu Khan, and the Palimpsest of Universal Reality," which appeared in F&SF in April, 1993. Only Part I is up. Part II will follow in a week.

This is one of those stories that came to me in a dream. That sort of thing does not happen as often as folklore claims, for the excellent reason that dreams are generally not well-plotted. But this time I awoke from slumber with the first scene in my head, involving Roman legionnaires, a Mongol ordu, and the Place de la Concorde Metro station. Even the Babylonian was in the dream.

After that, I was on my own. Ultimately it led to the story notion of mutable and cumulative time. The past could be revised, but all revisions ran concurrently, and when you time scooted you might wind up on this version or that.

To top it off, scooters were too easy to duplicate.  People slapped themselves on the forehead afterward and said, of course, so obvious.  So, the word got out and, what with outright theft and the blatant violation of patent laws, pretty soon everybody and his grandmother was timescooting. 
I still don’t know when my grandmother is.  
Hence, the garble of ancient Romans hunting for slaves in Paris-1923, Mongol horsemen looking to ambush them, and a Paris metro train in 1923 scooting off to Chicago in 1965. 

Now the story is not about that. It's about the Narrator, Jack, trying to solve his life, which he had royally screwed up with his idealized girl friend back in the 60s. We'll get into that part of it in Part II.

Gardner Dozois took a pass on this because he thought the darker tone of Part II did not mesh with the lighter tone of Part I. Likely, he was right and there are two stories here like two cats in a sack. K.K. Rusch, however, liked it and ran it in F&SF. We report, you decide.

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