Self Assessment: I’m not a Sociopath

I took this Sociopath test at http://www.playbuzz.com/joycemartin10/can-you-pass-the-sociopath-test. I flunked it, which is to say that it told me I was a sociopath. I can’t accept that label. Sure, I have antisocial tendencies, brought about by a string of misfortunes starting from pretty much the day I was born until now. But I have morals, and as I understand it, sociopaths don’t.

Granted, I lie a good deal. The circumstances of my life have required it. My real name is not Emilah. I can’t reveal my real name, and for a good reason that I can’t tell anyone. I can’t post an actual picture of myself. I know other people who don’t like posting pictures of themselves, and they don’t have the same reason for it that I do. It doesn’t mean we are all sociopaths.

I admit that I’m not a social person. I don’t make friends easily, and I understand why. I’ve never been in love, not really, and I don’t expect to ever be deeply involved romantically with anyone, male or female. I have difficulty even thinking of men in that way, for myself. I understand that a lot of people are heterosexual, and if it’s right for them, I have no problem with them behaving in ways that I don’t want to.

I’m often impulsive. With the way my life has gone, I obviously exercise poor judgment in many matters. I’m more logical than emotional, mostly because I’ve been hurt too much to let my emotions have sway. That’s not to say my logic is always correct, obviously.

Is all that enough to label me as a sociopath?

If I were a sociopath, would I care about being labeled one?

Seriously, I wouldn’t knowingly hurt anyone.

You can friend me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/emilahthicke

Or on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EmilahThicke

And you can Like my Facebook fan page, even though I haven’t actually published my story yet, just one more plan that hasn’t come to fruition. I wrote my novella back in 2008. It was almost published, but the publisher went out of business before they published the anthology my story was accepted for. Hey, if I get enough Likes on my fan page, maybe that will motivate me to self-publish my story. My Facebook fan page is here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emilah-Thicke-Author/122294351287365. Like me.

You know, because apparently I need friends.

And today is my birthday. Yes, I know you have no reason to believe me, especially since today is April Fools Day and I’ve already admitted to being a liar. Whatever.

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

Wasting Time

Sledgehammer

Life hit me with a sledgehammer. I lost my job and it took me four months to find another one. After the third month of not getting work, I was so depressed I wondered where I’d find the energy and vitality that employers look for in candidates.

One thing that helped me get out of the dumps was to play video games. Some people will say that video games are a waste of time. Sometimes they are, but I can’t agree that they always are. I started playing Wartune (my character is Arlene on server 143), and found that I could play it well. I played it well enough that it boosted my self-confidence and my energy levels. I wasn’t feeling so depressed. The game was a placebo for what I really needed in my life, to feel that I had value, that I had skills. Like any good placebo, it helped me help myself.

Playing video games can have an effect similar to having sex. I haven’t taken hallucinatory drugs and I’ve never been drunk, but there may be some similar feelings people get from those activities as well. You feel euphoric, like nothing else matters. You’re lost in another reality, one where you are better than you are in real life. You like it so much, you want to stay there forever. That’s when the addiction starts. Addiction is never good.

In my case, I feel like playing Wartune helped boost my spirits and contributed to my ability to convey enthusiasm and a sense of confidence during job interviews. So in that regard it was a good thing for me.

Getting a job did so much more to bring me out of my depression, of course.

After I landed the new job, I shouldn’t have needed to play Wartune anymore. But there is that addictive aspect to video games, and I’m struggling with that now. I’m still playing Wartune when I really don’t need to. I could be doing other things with the time, like working on my fiction and writing blog posts. I keep promising myself that I’ll cut back on how much time I give the game (writing this blog post is testament to my efforts to keep that promise), and I feel I’m improving in that regard, but some would say I should quit altogether, cold turkey. That’s always the advice I hear given to people who want to quit smoking. Maybe I should flat-out quit, but… There had to be a but, of course. It’s part of the addiction, right? But…I have these powerful sylphs that I want to see evolve when sylph divinity comes to the game. There’s as much curiosity involved in this desire as there is addiction. Or so I tell myself.

After they bring sylph divinity to the game, I’m sure there will be something else introduced to trap my curiosity. That’s the science of online video game production.

If I can strike a balance between my on-game and off-game lives, I’ll be happy. I don’t expect to play Wartune forever, but if I’m going to be playing it for a while longer, I can’t let it take as much time as I’ve been giving it. I’m not depressed now, so I don’t need the emotional lift the game gave me before.

And my stories are not going to write themselves. Every minute I spend playing Wartune is a minute not spent writing.

So I know the answer to my own question, which I will leave unasked, but I’d love to hear what you think about this topic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Real Life

Book Review – Out of Time: A Time Travel Mystery

Click the image to visit the Amazon book page.

I’m not a person who can travel back in time. If I could, I’d go back and write some posts for the past three months. I was sick for a month and then playing catch-up for two months. Now it’s August and I’ve no new posts here since April. Ugh, as they say on Trollhalla.

But now I’m back and I have a brief book review for you. While I was sick, I managed to read Out of Time: A Time Travel Mystery by Monique Martin and I enjoyed it immensely. I mention some specifics from the book in the following review which some might consider spoilers. I don’t give away any big items in my opinion, but if you don’t want to know any details of the story until you’ve read it, don’t read below this paragraph. Just know that I give this book 5 stars and my highest recommendation. Read it if you enjoy time travel tales, historical fiction or paranormal romances, but especially if you like all three genres.

Simon Cross is a slender but not lanky professor of the occult. Elizabeth West is Simon’s beautiful teaching assistant, twenty years younger than he. They both have feelings about the other, but don’t act on them. Simon has a premonition that Elizabeth is going to die, but there’s not much he can do about it.  They live their lives, helping students learn about the occult as best they can. They probably could have continued like this until Elizabeth graduated and went elsewhere to seek out her own career. But something happens, as it usually does in novels, and the two are thrown back in time to 1929.

When they discover they’re in 1929 and can’t go back to their own time right away, they have to adjust quickly. They need clothes to match the period, they need shelter and food. For these things, they need to earn, find or steal money. So they get jobs in 1929. They pretend to be married for appearance’s sake and to prevent other men from hitting on Elizabeth. If they’re married, they ought to share a room, right? You can see where this might lead.

The first half of the novel after the first couple of chapters reads much like historical fiction set in the late 1920s. But then something else happens, and the story turns 90 degrees into the occult and paranormal realm. There might be a vampire that shows up. I don’t want to say too much about the last half of the novel, because that’s where the plot gets thick. Suffice it to say that Simon fears for Elizabeth’s life due to the premonition he’d had before they were flung back in time. So not only does he need to ensure her safety, even when she doesn’t exactly make it easy for him, but he also needs to make sure that when the right time comes, they are ready to catch the time travel train back to the life they led as professor and teaching assistant.

The story is expertly written and edited. The pace was a bit slow for me in places in the first half of the novel, but that’s because I’m not as interested in historical fiction as I am in time travel tales and paranormal romances. The story ending was worth the occasional slow patch for me. It could be worth it for you too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Book Review: Knot in Time

Knot in Time cover art

Knot in Time cover art

Darius Arthur Heisenberg “had been adopted as a baby into a relatively famous — at least in scientific circles — family. [His] great, great uncle, Werner Heisenberg, had come up with one of the fundamental ideas of modern physics: the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.” This we learn early on in Alan Tucker’s time travel novel, Knot in Time (Tales of Uncertainty, Book 1). Darius, whose friends call Dare, isn’t stupid, but his grades in school haven’t reflected it. He’s often in trouble, so his prospects in life aren’t great. That is, until he meets Bob.

Bob is an alien who recruits Dare to work for the Keepers, a secret society of aliens who have made it their job to  protect the threads of reality from unraveling. There are many different threads, each representing a different reality. Dare forsakes his current thread to help protect the entire tapestry of threads. So what exactly does the job of protecting the threads of reality entail? Time traveling, of course! Dare has to jump around in time (and space) to thwart whatever mischief other time travelers attempt.

Now I don’t want to give away too much here. I can say that the book kept my interest all the way through, but then I’m partial to time travel stories. Beyond that, I’ll have to get into some details of the story, so some of what follows might be considered spoilers.

There’s not just one thread of reality. There are many threads. The threads all influence each other, so that they all are very similar, even though different. A change in one might change the others. A corruption of one could corrupt all of them.

The Keepers have this nifty little trick of tying off threads in a knot — hence, a knot in time. When they knot a thread, they insert a time traveler into a thread, and the time traveler can’t be taken out of the thread until the end of the knotted section of thread is reached. Whatever happens in the knotted section of the thread becomes reality across all threads, and it can’t ever be changed. At least, that’s how I interpreted it.

So Dare gets inserted into a thread that’s being knotted. He has to make sure he does everything right — knotting the thread means he won’t get a second chance. It’s through this knotting mechanism that author Alan Tucker maintains suspense in his time travel novel. He allows jumping around in time and changing history, but then he also invents the ability to put a knot in time to prevent changes in history when it suits the Keepers. It’s not believable as something that would ever work in the real world, but it works for the story.

The one thing that bugged me the most came at the very end of the story. After the thread is knotted, there is some debate as to whether to do something that might change it. Huh? I might be nit picking, but if you can tie off a thread to ensure that what happens in that knot can’t be changed, then why tie the knot and then turn around and talk about trying to change something in it? (What I’m referring to has to do with altering the course of a comet five hundred million years ago, in case you’re curious.) Like I said, that business comes at the very end of the story, and it might not even be noticed by many readers.

The story overall is entertaining. It has time travel, alternate threads of reality, adventures that occur on a planet other than Earth, aliens, and sexy women who make Dare blush. If you like that sort of fiction, you should enjoy Knot in Time. I’ll give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Maintaining Suspense in Time Travel Fiction

In time travel fiction, it can be difficult maintaining suspense. If you have characters jumping back from the future, they can reveal what the future holds in store for your characters. There are three solutions to this problem, if we disallow the concept of parallel universes.

  1. Don’t let characters come back from the future.
  2. Make the characters from the future untrustworthy or secretive.
  3. Allow events that are known to have happened to be changed.

Let’s look closer at each solution.

English: in the future, the evolution make all...

SPOILER ALERT: In the future, evolution will make all women beautiful. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t let characters come back from the future.

The corollary to this is that none of your characters can visit the past. If any character goes to their past, then they’re a character from someone else’s future. If your plot doesn’t call for any characters visiting their pasts, then there’s no chance of any of them spilling the beans, right? Not quite. You can’t let them send messages back through time either.

If no characters or messages travel backwards in time, then maintaining suspense in your time travel fiction piece won’t differ from maintaining suspense in any other type of fiction.

Make the characters from the future untrustworthy or secretive.

Most time travel stories will include travel to the past. If one of the tenets of time travel in your story is that events can’t be changed, then you’re pretty much left with making characters from the future untrustworthy or for some reason unable or unwilling to reveal the truth about future events. A character from the future could have misunderstood events, have incomplete knowledge of them, or simply lie about them.

It becomes difficult when the character from the future is trustworthy and has full knowledge of future events. In this case, the character might choose to withhold information for some reason. If that’s the route you take, make sure the reason is a good one. How many times have you read any sort of genre fiction where the wise old man has the knowledge that would make saving the day so much easier, but he refuses for some totally hokey reason to divulge the information to the young adventurer who is desperately trying to save the world? Don’t write that kind of time travel story. If you are going to have a sidekick come back from the future and befriend your heroine in the past, come up with a damn good excuse why the sidekick doesn’t tell the heroine all the information that would short-circuit your story.

Allow events that are known to have happened to be changed.

This is the Star Trek method of maintaining suspense in a time travel story. I call it cheating the reader (or the viewer, in the case of Star Trek shows and movies). Basically, the author sets up an over-the-top perilous situation that no one could possibly extract themselves from, and then solves it by changing the events that led up to the disaster. It’s a form of Deus Ex Machina.

If the heroine is in 2013 and the sidekick comes from the year 2015 to tell the heroine about something that happened in 2014, the described events are in the heroine’s future, granted, but they are from the sidekick’s past. As far as the heroine is concerned, the future remains mutable, because she doesn’t know 100% for sure that the sidekick is being honest and knows everything. But if you made it clear to the reader that the sidekick did indeed experience certain events in the future, and the sidekick tells the heroine (more to the point, tells the reader) all about those events, then the only suspense you have left is whether the heroine believes the sidekick. The reader will know the truth, and the only way you can introduce uncertainty for the reader is to allow the sidekick’s experiences to be undone.

Of course, you don’t have to tell the reader up front that you’re writing that kind of story. You can spring it on your readers at the end of your story. When all possible solutions to the problem have failed, you can have your heroine jump back in time, destroy the villain’s secret weapon, and then say everything that had happened in the story suddenly hadn’t happened after all. Might as well have simply written a story that ends with the heroine suddenly waking up and realizing it was all just a dream.

I really don’t like solution #3. For most time travel stories, solution #1 isn’t viable. So you can figure that in any time travel stories I write, I’ll go with solution #2 and get creative with the reasons why time travelers can’t or won’t reveal all the information they have about the future.

What are your thoughts on maintaining suspense in a time travel story?

2 Comments

Filed under Time Travel, Writing

Time Travel and Teleportation

Teleportation Prototype

Teleportation Prototype (Photo credit: Gilderic Photography)

Time travel is the jumping to another point in time without passing through the intervening points in time. That sounds a lot like teleportation, the jumping to another point in space without passing through the intervening points in space. Scientists have talked about the possibility of teleportation, and one theory holds that it’s possible, though the means of teleportation is to deconstruct you in one place and construct you again in the other. Now my knowledge of physics is limited to one college course and watching episodes of NOVA, but it seems to me that if you can deconstruct and reconstruct objects and people to teleport them across space, that you could add in an element of time as well. The same process should allow you to not only teleport across space but also across time.

If the process of teleportation included both space and time elements, the concepts of locally or universally relative time travel that I wrote about in my previous post don’t seem so important. When you  time travel, you would not only take into consideration where in time you want to go, but also where in space. Or to flip it around, when you want to teleport, you would not only take into consideration where in space you want to go, but also where in time.

Suppose we build a combination time travel teleportation device. We’d need to have two of them, right? One at the departure time and place, and one to receive the traveler at the destination time and place. But wait a minute, maybe we’d only need one device. Since we are including a time component, we might have time to move the device to where it needs to be later. For instance, suppose you want to teleport from New York to Los Angeles, from today in New York to tomorrow in Los Angeles. You start out with your time travel teleporter device in New York. You need a friend to help you out, someone to operate and move the device for you to Los Angeles. You get into the machine in New York today, and the operator sets the dials appropriately and activates the device. You disappear from inside the device. Now the operator moves the device to Los Angeles and sets it up there to receive you. The operator only has one day to move the device and get it set up, since you’re scheduled to arrive tomorrow. If everything goes smoothly, you appear in the device at the designated time and place, in Los Angeles the day after you left New York, inside the same device you occupied the day before. The machine didn’t jump through space or time, but you did.

Teleporting to a place in the past instead of the future gets a little tricky. You have to jump back in time to wherever the device was located in the past. Doable, but you need to plan your jump back before you make it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Time Travel

Time Travel: The Bug on the Windshield

Bug on Windshield

Bug on Windshield (Photo credit: fauxto_digit)

Today let me introduce you to my concept of the “Bug on the Windshield” in the context of time travel.

To understand this concept, think of the bug as the time traveler and the windshield as the world. The bug can go to any spot on the windshield by crawling around. It stays in the present as it crawls around, never leaving the windshield or traveling through time, except in the normal forward progression of the time stream.

The outer surface of the windshield is the only world the bug knows. Suppose the windshield is attached to a car that is rolling along slow enough the bug doesn’t realize the windshield is moving. Suddenly the bug gets the urge to travel through time and jumps into the distant future. What happens to the bug with respect to its location on the windshield?

The answer depends on how time travel works. It might be a locally relative effect. By that I mean the bug jumps forward in time and reappears in the future still on the windshield. The car could have made any number of turns, accelerations, stops or reversals during the period elapsed between the bug’s departure from the present and its arrival in the future. No matter what the car does or how much the bug jumps around in time, the bug remains stuck to the windshield.

On the other hand, time travel could be a universally relative effect. By that I mean the bug jumps in time and reappears in the future still in the same place it was relative to something universal, such as the center of the universe, wherever that is. The windshield could easily be in a different place in the future than it was when the bug initiated the time jump. The car and windshield have been moving, as has the earth, the solar system and the galaxy. The bug could easily arrive in the future somewhere quite different from the world it knows. The chance is not zero that it would arrive in the future on some other planet, in some other solar system, some other galaxy, or on the windshield of some other car. But most likely the bug would end up in the vacuum of space. Oops.

Think about that bug the next time you consider time traveling. You’re lying there on your bed looking up at the ceiling and on a whim decide to pop into the future. If you’re still on your bed when you arrive in the future, then thank your lucky stars the bug was stuck to the windshield.

2 Comments

Filed under Time Travel