“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”
I’ve read any number of time travel novels. I love and adore the idea of time travel. I started off early in the genre. I think my very first introduction was H.G. Well’s The Time Machine, when I was six or seven years old.
Possibly, that introduction scarred me for life, when it came to time travel inside the romance genre. I am, among other things, a hardcore science fiction fan. In science-fiction-land, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. They even have an acronym for it: TANSTAAFL. (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) — coined by the late Robert A. Heinlein.
Most scientists use the idiom to explain the general physics principal of every action having an equal and opposite reaction, and to explain why phenomenon such as perpetual motion machines simply can’t work.
Heinlein, however, applied TANSTAAFL to everything. Inside his fiction, his characters used the principle to guide their actions throughout some varied and very interesting lives. Basically, if something looked to good to be true, they figured it was, and walked away, because there there is no such thing as a free lunch, so what’s the catch, what’s the downsound, who is scamming who here? Heinlein raised no idiots in his fiction.
The same thing applies to science fiction devices and machines. All of them, anything you find inside a science fiction novel, no matter how fantastical or wonderous it may seem, is founded upon sound science principles at the base. The author, even if they invented the culture and machinery up out of their imagination, would have extrapolated from known science, and developed along a logical sequence of events to a distant point — even a far distant point — in that culture’s evolution where the story takes place.
Arthur C. Clark, another lauded science fiction writer, noted that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” so if an author were to extrapolate far enough, the setting would be wonderous, indeed.
As you can see, though, science fiction writers and readers are stringent about maintaining the science within their fiction. Everything has to make sense. Everything has to come at a price.
Any technology has drawbacks.
Going to the moon in 1969 involved three days of sitting in a tin can, and immediate and never-ending dangers of exposure to vaccuum that the flimsy technology of the time only kept at bay with the most stringent of protoccols and proceedures. The greatest achievement of that ardous journey was bringing a rock back from the surface of the moon.
The Enterprise in Star Trek can get to the moon in ten seconds, but the price they pay for that convenience is quarrelsome Klingons, interplantary spats, trouble with Tribbles, and a yeoman with no personal boundaries.
The Enterprise D in The Next Generation would overshoot the moon if it didn’t tap the accelerator very gently indeed. They have peace with the Klingons, and the Federation is no longer the peacekeepers of the galaxy. They’re explorers and scientists instead. The price they pay for all that technological improvement are The Borg, who are intent on turning the moon into a metal way-station.
Even in fiction, there is a price for everything. A drawback. A cost.
But sometimes, in paranormal romance, that cost is mysteriously missing.
You get characters who have the power to split the planet in two, but they pay no costs when they weild that power. They use it willy-nilly, and if they’re the antagonists — the bad guys — they get to smite good guys all over the place, basically unchecked until the big finale, when the hero(ine) finally clocks them and halts their evil ways.
I think Einstein would turn in his grave. If quantum physics holds true, then even with paranormal powers, there has to be a comeback. A price. Even if it’s a physical reaction to all that power spraying around the atmosphere, there should be some sort of reaction, right? What is that power doing to the air, the ground, the magnetic field?
So we come to time travel.
I’ve read my share of time travel novels. I love ‘em. Unreservedly, I do. I love the idea of sliding back to some time in history — and yeah, it’s always some romantic period, of course, when the clothes are to die for, and the heroes are gallant — meeting someone and falling in love. Then there’s the myriad ways the romance gets resolved because of the time differences. And the multiple ways the time traveller reveals their travelling ways.
It adds so many delicious layers to your good ol’ historical romances.
But I still squirm when I read time travel romances when the traveller just pops back two thousand years or so with absolutely no ill effects and no consequences whatsoever…like they’ve stepped through a doorway.
To my mind, there should be consequences. There should be some sort of penalty or drawback, some sort of price to be paid for the ability to jump back (or forward) through time. Or some limitation. For one thing, it would make the story way more interesting. It would up the tension of the drama big time.
And it would make it seem just a little bit more realistic.
I think it was this subconscious yearning that was driving me when I began building the Beloved Bloody Time series. Although only Bannockburn Binding has been released so far, there are rough chapters and outlines for about six books ahead in the series. The time jumping is the backbone the series is built around. And yes, there are consequences to be paid for travelling through time. There are all sorts of consequences.
The most obvious consequences I can share with you here, because it doesn’t spoil anything in the stories. The vampires in the series are the only ones who can travel through time, because they are the only ones who have the perfectly preserved memories of the past that allow them to navigate successfully through time. But when they go back into the past, the symbiot in their blood that makes them vampire goes into stasis. They become human again. But as soon as they become human in the past, time begins to catch up with them at a vastly accelerated pace. They begin to age. The condition is known as Stasis Poisoning. If the vampires jump too often, too closely together, the poisoning will catch up with them and strand them in the past to die. If they remain too long in one date in the past, the poisoning with also catch up with them. So while they enjoy the privleges of being able to travel back to the past, they cannot stay there. Not forever.
The humans they carry back to the past suffer no ill effects, on the other hand. But humans cannot jump back by themselves. They have to be carried back into the past by a vampire traveller…and brought home again.
It has set up an uneasy alliance between humans and vampires, and gives the vampires a business income…and legitimacy.
Time is theirs to keep. But it comes with a price.
In the early 23rd Century, vampires learned how to travel back in time, and created a time-tsunami that threatened life as we know it, until they corrected their mistake. They created the Chronometric Conservation Agency, which is tasked with preserving history and therefore protecting humanity’s future. The Touring arm of the Agency offers trips back into the real past, with vampire guides, called travellers.
When Natalia (Tally) Marta, vampire and traveller, takes her client to visit the siege of Stirling Castle in 1314, she is caught and held hostage for ransom by Robert MacKenzie, a Bruce clansman. Rob finds himself drawn to the wilful, stubborn and very different English lady he has captured and the relationship becomes an intimate, highly-charged sexual pairing. Swiftly, Tally and Rob realize their bond is more than sexual, that the emotions stirring their hearts are true.
Christian Lee Hamilton, vampire, one of the last true southern gentlemen, and Tally’s ex-lover, knows the 1314 time marker enough to jump back and help Tally return home. His arrival at Bannockburn adds complications, for Christian finds himself drawn to Rob MacKenzie as much as Tally is. But neither of them can stay in the past forever. To do so means certain death.
An Excerpt From: BANNOCKBURN BINDING
Copyright © TRACY COOPER-POSEY, 2011 All Rights Reserved.
“The situation isn’t even classified as urgent yet,” Nayara added, as Christian adjusted a complicated double belt around his waist and re-settled the sword at his hip, underneath the big cloak over his shoulders. The belts sat over a robe that ended just above soft leather boots, and Nayara could see a linen shirt peeking beneath the robe. Everything was embroidered and embellished and glowed with wealth.
“You don’t know that time at all,” Nayara ventured.
“I’ve been there,” Christian replied. “How do you think I got the marker from her?”
“Demyan knows the time much better. He travels there frequently, he knows the language—”
Christian rattled off a short sentence in a language Nayara didn’t recognize. “I don’t know much Gaelic,” he added. “But Scots will serve me everywhere but the remote highlands.”
Christian the linguist. Nayara sighed, her last argument defeated.
Brenden, their security chief, strode over from his glassed-in office, and dropped a reading board down on the desk next to Christian. “Tally is just overdue, man. You know how this goes. If you don’t give her time to sort things out for herself, you might make it worse.”
Christian looked up from adjusting his clothing. “It’s already worse.”
“What, you know that in your gut?” Brenden curled the corner of his mouth up in distaste. His opinion of travelers who used gut-instinct was well-known. Brenden relied on data, facts, and information even if those facts were slender and the data scanty. Brenden believed a vampire lost any sense of true instinct when they lost their humanity. All they were left with was an ability to guess…and guess wrong. So he never guessed and he crucified travelers who did so on his watch.
Christian’s jaw flexed and tightened. “Tally has been travelling for how long, Brenden? Thirty years? More?”
Brenden frowned. “Thirty-three, next month.”
“Has she ever, in those thirty-three years, once been late to return?”
Brenden’s frown deepened. “I’d have to look it up.”
“Don’t bother,” Christian said, picking up the reading board. “The answer is no. Despite some hair-raising disasters and tourists gone astray, Tally has coped.” He glanced at the board. “She’s been in 1314 for nearly five weeks when it was supposed to be a day trip.” He looked at Brenden, then at Nayara. “If someone of Tally’s caliber hasn’t returned after five weeks, you can be certain there’s something seriously wrong.”
Nayara nodded at Brenden, who crossed his arms over his great chest and glared at Christian. “We should be sending an issues expert in,” he growled.
“By all means, send them if you wish,” Christian replied, with a graceful nod of his head. He turned and headed for the arrival chambers. “Tell them they can catch up with me.”
Brenden swore softly as he watched Christian walk away.
Nayara patted his arm. “Leave it be,” she told him. “Christian is good at his job. He’ll get her out, Brenden.”
“He shouldn’t be going anywhere near her!” Brenden growled. He curled his hand into a fist. “I wish someone would get around to explaining how vampires still manage to fuck up their lives over matters of hormones when they don’t have any hormones left in their systems that still work.”
“You know that’s not why he’s going back—”
“Bullshit,” Brenden interjected.
“What’s bullshit?” Ryan asked, from behind them.
Nayara stepped aside to include Ryan in their conversation, and explained where Christian was going.
Ryan rubbed his temple thoughtfully. “Nayara is right,” he told Brenden. “Christian has all the right skills. He can get Tally out of just about anything, and he can call for help if he needs it. Why he’s doing it is irrelevant.”
Ryan patted the big man’s shoulder. “If it helps, think of what Tally will do to Christian when she realizes that he has come to her rescue.”
Brenden grinned. “She’ll scrag him,” he said dreamily. “Or worse.”
“Exactly,” Ryan replied. “So relax, big guy.”
Brenden went back to his office, his head high, happy.
Nayara picked up the reading board and handed it to Ryan. “What was it you didn’t say to Brenden?”
Ryan blinked. “You caught that?”
“You held something back. A thought occurred to you that you nearly spoke aloud, but you changed your mind, and spoke about Christian’s skills instead.”
Ryan nodded. He glanced toward Brenden’s office, then the workstations surrounding them. Some were occupied, but none of them near enough to hear him. He lowered his voice anyway. “It occurred to me that Demyan, who would be the most obvious one to send back for Tally, has spent nearly all his life passing as some sort of fighter. Military, para-military, mercenary. He would find a way to extract Tally from her situation, I have no doubt. But Christian has other skills, and if she has been in 1314 for five weeks, unable to jump back, then he might be more useful.”
Ryan grimaced. “In at least three centuries of his life, he’s been a medical doctor.”
- Erotic MMF romance, time travel, urban fantasy story line, on-going serial storylines.
- This is the first book in the BELOVED BLOODY TIME series.
- Futuristic settings: Australia, near-planetary space. Historical settings: Medieval Scotland, France.
- Vampires and other fantasy species.
- Available at Amazon: Kindle format. Print format.
- Available at All Romance ebooks: Adobe Acrobat, Palm DOC/iSolo, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket (.prc and Mobi), Rocket, ePub
- Pages: 162 in PDF, including front matter. (Short novel-length story)
- $2.99 in all electronic formats, and at all retailers.
- $8.97 in print.
Tracy Cooper-Posey is a national award winning author, with more than 35 romance titles published since 1999. She writes mainly romantic suspense and paranormal romance, with brief forays into other romantic genres here and there. She has been nominated for three CAPA’s for best paranormal romance, and the CAPA for Favourite Author, and has won the Emma Darcy Award.
One lucky winner will win an ecopy of Tracy’s previous title Blood Knot.
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