I started a new story several weeks ago. As an aside, I'm really going to finish a story someday, and not just get 75% done and run out of steam.

Anyway, the current deals with reincarnation. I haven't taken part in any of the writing games, like because I couldn't figure out how to answer any of the questions. My MC is literally dozens of people spread across millennia.

How do I answer a question like "Is MC good at flirting?" Are we talking about the cavewoman, or the six year old girl in Detroit, or the rice farmer in medieval Japan who became a young widower? All of them are the MC.

Or a question about nice areas to visit. Should I be answering that question for the paleolithic Fertile Crescent or the colony ship to Alpha Centauri?

So, I decided I'm going to start taking part next month again (or, maybe I'll just jump in in the middle), and just pick a character and setting for each question. It might even give me some ideas for additional settings and incarnations.

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As part of the first manned mission to Mars, Philip knew he would be part of history. But after the accident left him alone, with no way to contact Earth, he assumed he would be not only the first person on Mars, but the last.

He tried to find any way to survive. Most of the supplies were lost in the accident. He had food for a while, if you could call it food. But long-term survival would require some terraforming. He needed to find a water source.

As he arrived at the nearest valley, he examined the surface to see if there was any evidence of past water, and where it might have gone. But what he found was ... curious.

Some fibrous tissue. A rope? No. A net. If he didn't know better, he'd think somebody was fishing here. But, that was impossible. Even if there had been life, including both marine and intelligent land-based life, this net couldn't be more than 150 years old. And 150 years ago, we certainly would've been able to see lakes and villages on the Martian surface. This is impossible. It's something else. A strange rock formation, or something.

"Excuse me."

He jumped. He hadn't heard a voice for days. Now there was a woman standing right above him.

"What are you doing out here? And in that ancient suit?"

"What? I just got here. Who are you?"

"Alara. Pleasure to meet you. And you are?"


"Philip! How funny! You've got such a silly old-fashioned name and you're wearing that ancient suit, like you see in the movies about the first Martians, and when they settled here. You know, like before they adapted to the climate, and before they destroyed the climate. Your parents must be old fashioned to give you a name like that. Why don't we head back underground together and you can tell me why you're wearing such a silly costume. Are you an actor?"

@[email protected]


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Free Day

Using ChatGPT and Google Bard to research

I know a lot of folks in the have some negative feelings about generative text AI, and for good reason. Folks using AI-generated writing as their own is a big problem.

I'm not using ChatGPT, or similar to write my story for me. But, I've found it really useful for doing generating some ideas for my story.

I really wanted to use some kind of current theory that I could use as the basis for the time travel in my story. I didn't want to just handwave it.

In the original Wizard of Oz, Dorothy fails to get into the tornado shelter in time, and that's why she gets carried away to Oz. So, I wanted there to be some clear action on Dorothy's part that brought her to the future.

I asked ChatGPT and Google Bard "I'm writing a science fiction novella that involves time travel. What are some of the best ways to explain time travel, based on current scientific understanding?"

I got really good answers, a nice bulleted list with explanations for each, including time dilation (special relativity), gravity warping spacetime (general relativity), multiple universes, and quantum wormholes, which could, in theory, connect two points in spacetime. I asked a follow-up question on wormholes, and I got a lot of background on how they might relate to time travel, etc.

Of course, large language models are prone to hallucination, so I double-checked all the information. But really, I think these new tools are definitely going to be a help in researching for my writing (but not in doing the writing itself).

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Free Day: tropes I'm using

At some point during my development of the story, I decided I wanted to feature Temporal Duplication in this story.

Basically, Dorothy, after traveling to the future, is going to meet other versions of herself, older than her, who had traveled to this future at some point later in their lives.

But this will also result in Alternate Timelines as well. Basically, interference from her future selves results in changing her past, so, the duplicates are from different timelines.

There will also be aspects of a split timeline plot, but the split timelines will really only be discussed in flashback, so maybe that doesn't really count.

I still haven't figured out exactly how all of this will be resolved in the end, though.

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: What's the education system like in your world?

The story starts out in the present day, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

So, that's a pretty good education.

But, Dorothy is brilliant, and managed to get a full-ride scholarship. Most people are not that lucky. Even many people as brilliant as her can't manage to afford an education as good as hers.

Dorothy actually doesn't realize this, but she has kind of a guardian angel who has been helping her by making sure the right people know about her. Without this person secretly looking out for her, she wouldn't have had nearly the same opportunities. She would have eventually done okay, but it would've taken longer, and she would've missed out on some opportunities.

In the future world, to which she travels, education is much less formal. Some people are lucky to meet teachers and gain an education. Many just eek out an existence best they can.

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Joining this month.

: Badly introduce your time travel story.

A girl and her dog take the subway downtown, but don't have the fare to get back.