I’ve always been fascinated by time paradoxes, but many stories about time travel seem, to me, to be quite lazy about getting the logic right. I think a lot of authors just want to put their characters into different time periods and play with “what-ifs” based on changing history, or maybe just use the time period as a setting for action. What I like is really exploring what could happen by changing the past, especially your own past.
Many years ago I read “The Man Who Folded Himself” by David Gerrold. The book explores what happens when a young man visits himself in the past and the future. Gerrold has a wonderful imagination, and the book stayed with me all these years. Not only did it address time paradoxes as well as anything I’d ever read, it also broke new ground with its treatment of gay characters.
I decided to write a kind of homage to that book – a very short story, barely longer than a flash, that would also have a gay character, but would also deal with the issue of AIDS, unknown to Gerrold at the time he wrote the book. You could think of AIDS as something akin to the Mule in Asimov’s Foundation trilogy – something completely unexpected, impossible to predict, impossible to deal with using the laws of probability.
Two-Edged Sword tells two rounds of a story that swirls in time, circling back and forth, never ending. Each round changes something, and that causes changes that cycle back. I took away the cop-out of multiple time streams and instead looked at the time stream as something that doesn’t have an arrow – that can move in both directions, or more properly, in a circle.
Take a look and decide for yourself how well I succeeded. www.quantummuse.com