Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reading Time

Timelines: Stories Inspired by H.G. Wells' The Time Machine has just been released, featuring my story "Written by the Winners"; you can get it here. Here's the opening of "Written by the Winners":

Dave glanced over his shoulder, leaned in close so that his body blocked the screen. He had been sifting through old TV comedies for weeks now, screening every episode frame by frame for inconsistencies, but today he had made a real find -- a few lines of dialogue on Family Ties that referred to Richard Nixon.

There was no predicting where remnants like this would appear. The device that had changed time was more like a shotgun than a scalpel: it had established the present its makers wanted through hundreds of different changes to the timeline, some contradicting others. The result was a porous, makeshift new history that made little sense, but the old one had been thoroughly smashed to bits. It was those bits that remained that he and his whole department were tasked by the new history's makers with finding and erasing.

Most of what he found was much more innocuous, references to things that had little ideological power but simply had not existed in the new history. This one, though, had meaning, a direct reference to a political event in the old history. He looked around again, drew a tape from the bottom drawer of his desk, slipped it into the second recorder and hit COPY. He could feel his heart beating more quickly as the seconds ticked by, felt the pressure of seen and unseen eyes on his back; finally the inconsistency was over, ending as abruptly as it began, and he was able to breathe.

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