Timey Wimey Stuff

When last we met, we were discussing transcendental pears. This is because it is easier by far then the topic of cross temporal tactics. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that before I could get into tactics, I had to spend some time on parameters. Since I am using the Last Great Time War as my starting point, this means discussing the Laws of Time.

Which basically means I get to make a lot of stuff up. Despite the long history of Dr. Who, we know very little about the Laws of Time the Time Lords lived by. We do know they liked the past and future kept separate. Being in the same place more than once at a time is dangerous. If you doubt me, just watch Father’s Day.So right away, we take away a tactical option. There won’t be any fuguing, a’la Zelazny. You don’t get to summon half a dozen of yourself from out of time to fight with you. You get to be here once, and once only, so make it count.

Another thing, once you are involved with events, you aren’t allowed to move around inside them. There’s no nipping back to three hours ago to get the key you forgot, or snatching someone from the jaws of death. You can change locations all you want, but not your temporal coordinates.

We’re also told there are fixed points in time. Some events MUST happen. In human history, Pompeii is such an inevitable event (in Fires of Pompeii.), as is the first colonization attempt of Mars (in Waters of Mars.). The death of the Doctor counts, too (in The Wedding of River Song.). Tampering with such fixed points leads to consequences both cosmic and dire. Does this render certain races safe? Humanity has two such events it can call its own. Does that mean we are temporally unassailable until we go to Mars? Or can other races fill that gap?

So the Laws of Time in Doctor Who bear little resemblance to the Pirate’s Code. They aren’t merely guidelines. There are consequences to face, so both sides have to follow them. They can be bent. The Time Lords are able to let the Doctor meet his different incarnations more than once, but it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t without risk.

What the Laws of Time we can extrapolate give us is a  timestream that is soft from the outside. One can move around in it and enter or leave it at will. Once you engage with  it, however, it is rigid and unforgiving. And as with most rigid things, it’s fragile. It can be damaged. Damage it too much and it will break altogether. Even entering it too often near the same place can damage it.

Outside, you can move freely, plan freely. You can even gather some intelligence, although precise data is rare. What you can’t do is change anything. Time plays around you like a movie, and you have the remote.  You can choose when to move, but once you come in, you’re committed. Succeed or fail, you have one chance.

So the stage is set. We know what the two sides need. We know what they can do, and more importantly what they can’t. When next we meet, we get dangerous.

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4 Responses to Timey Wimey Stuff

  1. Sam Gafford says:

    I may be wrong but my concept that some events were “fixed in time” was because, in order for other, more important events to happen, these were required to happen first. Sort of like building an inverted pyramid. If you don’t have the base stone, all the others fall apart.

    • dreygeaux says:

      That’s certainly a viable interpretation. It was never presented that way that I recall, but there wasn’t anything arguing against it, either, at least as far as the Earth based events go. The death of the Doctor, on the other hand, seems to be a different order entirely. Maybe there are different types of fixed events, one universal, one temporally local, one that’s race dependent. .

    • Ronny says:

      If a fixed event has mandatory preceding events, yet those catalyst events are not themselves fixed, then I would wonder if a different “base stone” could act as a replacement for the catalyst events. It would seem that not allowing the base, yet not-fixed, events to change would create a cascade of dependencies. Because in that case, the non-fixed, pyramid base, catalyst events would seemingly need their own preceding events.

      It would seem, along the theme of plastic elastic time, that events would adjust around fixed events. If there are key preceding events I would wonder if they truly are mandatory/fixed or if they are just the most prevalent of solutions, and thus encountered seemingly all the time.

      Did this make any sense?

      • dreygeaux says:

        And now you know why I love writing about time travel. You get to read stuff like that. 🙂

        Yes, Jay, what you said does make sense. To use an example from the series, it doesn’t matter what sort of government funds the trip to Mars. The preceding wars don’t have to be the same wars. Maybe Lincoln freed the slaves. Maybe Kennedy did. Maybe slaves built the rocket. But relative to the fixed point, it doesn’t matter Those people must go to Mars, but why and how aren’t critical. Time will make it happen because it must.

        But, as Sam points out, what if humanity itself is gone? Does the universe now grind to a halt because humans can’t land on Mars? Or is the Mars landing fixed relative to the human race? Does the universe merely continue free of humankind? Are fixed events building blocks for a particular race, or linchpins holding reality in place? Or are there different types?

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