Bewildering Stories

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Cleveland W. Gibson writes...

about “The Time Jungle”

It’s always instructive when authors give us their ideas about their own stories and tell us what went into the composition. We have a good precedent: Kate Bachus has added some interesting footnotes to her story in issue 73. Here, Cleveland Gibson responds to questions about “The Time Jungle” with some engaging remarks:

Dear Don,

Thanks for your E-mail. The story deals with time travel but not just going back and forwards in time; that has been done too many times. Instead I’ve tossed into the equation the act of moving selected/well known items back/or forwards in time. Hence the armour of Julius Caesar was moved to the present century and the famous “Trojan Horse,” the wooden one used in the Trojan war was left in Roman Britain.

The bubble containing the time traveller can expand or contract. Hence it can take in the large wooden horse or indeed anything bigger like the pyramid. (I moved the pyramid because it was on television at the time with Tony Robinson of the Time Team stood in front of it. It was a well-known monument. I could have picked Stonehenge, I guess). That should explain the Greek-Roman conflict.

History has it that Van Gogh cut off his own ear and placed it in a box. He was quite mad; he sent it to his girlfriend who was more than shocked, to say the least. But suppose he had cut off his ear and done a painting of it? Nobody has that undiscovered Van Gogh painting. Wouldn’t it be worth a fortune on the art market today?

Hence the return to find the painting, but things went very wrong. Van Gogh painted a picture of a ear but it certainly isn’t his own. The picture was of Paul’s ear and had just been done; it was still very, very wet. The signature of Van Gogh was identified by the art buffs present. The painting wasn’t stolen in the ordinary meaning of the word. What happened Van Gogh removed Paul’s ear and painted it. Remember the artist was quite mad, so anything is/was possible. Returning to present times Paul has a painting of his own ear and in a terrible physical pain.

But previously, James, the businessman, is after lots of money. His company BARDEC is at the top of the 100 companies list. He has a burning interest in war games. To capture the attention of invited guests (military experts from Jane’s Defence and the CIA), James is going to give a demonstration. Using his time device he moves the gigantic pyramid of Giza to where he is. I might have mentioned my own town Faringdon, but it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that without realising it he has given America a method of moving tanks, weapons, etc. in a fraction of a second, say from one location to any other designated one in the world. (I dropped in the a mention of Tony Robinson because he gave me the encouragement initially to pick up my pen and start writing again). The implications are unbelievable. Faster than the Concorde , to say the least.

The technical people are part of the company BARDEC. They represent very sophisticated use of electronics for war and time-travel purposes. They would attend all meetings hosted by the U.N., Jane’s Defence, the Ministry for Defence, etc.

The structure of the story is meant to capture your attention at the very start. As you read on more and more drops into place. But a magician friend says he never tells everything all at once to his audience, because it sort of kills the magic. Hopefully by the time you get to the end lots will have fallen into place.

The surreal comes into the scenario because historians are always worried that say one day they will open a tomb or similar building and find something from present-day times that cannot be accounted for, in spite of carbon dating, DNA tagging and forensic testing and newer methods just going to press in The New Scientist. The classic example is the bison skull in the Museum in Moscow. The bison has a hole in its skull that must have been made by a bullet, as per Professor Constantin Flerov, the curator of the museum. Interesting? Well...

One other question posed in the story. What happens when objects are deposited from one time zone in another? We haven’t done it yet but there’s the “rub.”

I’m glad you came up with various question. I hope some of them have been answered. The inexplicable is sometimes more entertaining.

Best wishes,

Cleveland W. Gibson

Copyright © 2003 by Cleveland W. Gibson

Thank you very much, Cleveland! I hope you follow up on the “rub” and write us a story dealing with the effects of transporting objects in time as well as in space. Or our readers may consider it a “Challenge”: if you were to write a story on that theme, how would you go about it?


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