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Traveling between dimensions.

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LT

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Hi everyone,
In my current YA Fantasy WIP, my characters will be traveling between dimensions...and here's where I'm stuck. I've read several of Miccio Kaku's books and others on parallel worlds, but I'm stuck where my character has to use a device to actually traverse the dimensions. My question is, how realistic-sounding do I need to be? This is sci fi, of course, but I've read so many writing books where they insist that even in fantasy/scifi you need to sound like it "could" happen. I'm stuck between complete fantasy and just going with the limited knowledge I've gathered in the physics of it, or having to do tons more research to make it seem it could be real. Any thoughts and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!   :eh2

Loretta
#1 - December 20, 2009, 06:05 AM

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I think it's really cool if you can extrapolate based on today's science.  But personally all I think you need to do is make the reader believe in your device.  As a child I totally believed in the tesseract even though the characters just kind of pull sideways to go through dimensions.  In fact, I think I still believe in it. :shh
#2 - December 20, 2009, 06:50 AM
TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE, Delacorte
SQUISH, SQUASH, SQUISHED, Penguin 2021

LT

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Thanks Triandstar! I love L'Engle! That's what I mean. She made it so magical, you didn't care how the kids got through the dimensions. She made it believable! Maybe I should just reread A Wrinkle in Time to see how she did it instead of pouring over all the science and physics books and having much of the information go over my head.  :tornado
#3 - December 20, 2009, 07:11 AM

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Reading other books is a good idea. I'm mostly in favor of high plausibility, but I think how "realistic" it needs to be may also depend on your audience. Is it otherwise hard sci-fi and going to attract a lot of boys or well-read sci-fi buffs? Then it had better be pretty realistic. Does it have lots of more fantasy-oriented elements and emotional story anyway? Then the physics is probably less important. Also younger readers of the genre will generally let more slip than older (more well-read and cynical) ones.

Also, whether readers stay with you or not through the shift is going to be largely a function of how engrossed they are in the character and plot anyway. Readers who are totally "into" the story will forgive a lot (as we see in critique groups all the time. When they start nitpicking, they're not engaged enough.)
#4 - December 20, 2009, 09:47 AM
The Farwalker Trilogy
The Humming of Numbers
Reality Leak

www.jonisensel.com

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I think you can do as much or as little hand-waving as you want and make it work. The key for me is consistency. Just like with magic, there needs to be rules by which the device operates and, if possible, a price for using it. So you can only use it at certain moments (I'm thinking of the TV show Sliders), or if it causes great damage to the universes (Doctor Who), etc. The science behind the device is less important to me than the device's use in the story.
 
Sounds fun -- good luck!
#5 - December 20, 2009, 11:18 AM
Above World, 2/2012, Candlewick
Mirage (Book 2), 3/2013
Horizon (Book 3), 4/2014

Thanks Triandstar! I love L'Engle! That's what I mean. She made it so magical, you didn't care how the kids got through the dimensions. She made it believable! Maybe I should just reread A Wrinkle in Time to see how she did it instead of pouring over all the science and physics books and having much of the information go over my head.  :tornado

An important thing to remember (outside of making the magic believable, which is the MOST important thing, as others have said) is that L'Engle actually read physics journals and studied the areas she was writing about–she didn't invent the idea of a tesseract; it's based on scientific thought and theories (at least, that's what I've gathered from reading her books about her writing, like WALKING ON WATER). So her stories were believable partly because she wasn't making things up wholecloth...although I do think that approach can (and does) work as well–as long as you have rules and restrictions for your magic, like Jenn said (hi, Jenn!). I mean, I'm banking on that  for my own work, so...
#6 - December 20, 2009, 02:09 PM
I'm looking for a dare-to-be-great situation.

JustinDono

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If you're doing the whole alternate universe thing, look into stuff like Everett's Many Worlds Principle, and the idea of an "observer" as it relates to quantum physics and stuff like Schroedinger's cat.  If you're just doing dimensions where it's like Narnia or some place totally different, then whatever.  As the others have said, make it believable in some way.  Give it some science behind it, but don't go all crazy with research and spend an entire chapter on the darn thing.

Off the top of my head:
-MC travels to alternate universes but can only mentally "leap" into realities where alterations of him/her already exist, and then, only into his/her own body in that reality.  So if your character is Joe Smith, Joe can only visit realities where there are other Joe Smiths (or maybe a Joanne Smith for some fun gender-bending).  Sort of like Quantum Leap.
-Device (wrist watch thing, belt, small machine, widget) can only be used during times of multi-dimensional alignment, where the spaces between dimensions become "thin" and make for a sort of hallway leading from one to another.  These "halls" can shift quickly so travel is dangerous. and not a precise science.
- Shades of Back to the Future: To break through a dimensional barrier, terminal velocity has to be reached.  Breaking through dimensions acts both as a safety net and a possible deadly side-effect.  Travelling that fast would likely kill somebody as soon as they came out the other side (SPLAT) but the barriers act as a cushion and slows them down just enough so that the traveler just takes a mild tumble, maybe scrapes a knee.  However, if they're going too fast, or not fast enough, they run the risk of either a) crashing through dimensions so quickly that they splat on re-entry or b) do not break through the barrier and either become stuck between dimensions for eternity (or are simply dashed apart between realities) or are thrown back into the originating dimension where they're likely just going to SPLAT somewhere else.
-Dimensions are laid out like a gigantic, 4-dimensional map, each dimension has its own coordinates in space AND time.  To get somewhere, the traveller must pass through a gate of somekind, or a stationary transport device with those coordinates punched in.  They take with them something like a little iPod or something, a homing beacon that acts as their tether back to their home dimension.  If this gets stolen, broken, or runs out of juice, the person is stuck in that dimension for good, and will eventually become out of sync with that reality, resulting in their own personal reality collapsing (or making it as if they were never even born).

Again, off the top of my head.  do what you will with them.
#7 - December 20, 2009, 05:11 PM

JustinDono, those ideas are so entertaining. Can you please write them all as short stories now so I can read them? :)
#8 - December 20, 2009, 05:37 PM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)
www.parkerpeevyhouse.com

LT

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Wow, thanks JustinDono. These are all really great ideas. I appreciate you writing them all down! I've read lots of parallel universe type physics books for the layman. I'm not a physicist, though the subject fascinates me. Thanks for the suggestions - I'll look up Everett's Many Worlds Principle. I like your idea about the device running out of battery, breaking or being stolen. And I LOVE the 4D map of dimensions. I'll have to think about how that would fit in my story. My novel is more fantasy than science fiction, though it does have some scifi elements. I'll have to revisit some of my physics books. I'm currently reading "The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory." :) Thanks again!

Thank you also, jennreese. You're right, I'm currently working on creating "rules" for the device and a bit of backstory on it. It's pretty exciting. I wish it was real! :)

And thanks Joni. Since my story is more fantasy than scifi, I like the idea of creating some of my own rules. But I agree, the more plausible I can make it, the better the story will be. My main character is a 14-year-old male protegonist. So it's an age where they do question the plausibility of ideas in a novel. That's an excellent point.

Stirling Bennett, thanks for your advice and recommendation. I've been eyeing L'Engle's book, Walking on Water. I'll definitely look it up.

Thanks everyone for all your advice!


Loretta

#9 - December 20, 2009, 06:13 PM

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If you're up for a loooong read, there's ANATHEM, which is all about the multi-dimensional universe (and Plato).

Pullman's SUBTLE KNIFE might be useful, too, for another version of travel between worlds.  I liked the device of the knife!
#10 - December 20, 2009, 06:17 PM
THE CABINET OF EARTHS -- HarperCollins, 2012
A BOX OF GARGOYLES -- HC, 2013
THE WRINKLED CROWN -- HC, 2015
www.annenesbet.com

LT

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Thanks, AnneN. I'll look up Anathem. Sounds interesting! I've read all of Pullman's books. I love the way he weaves in the scifi aspect of multidimensions. Thanks for the referrals!
#11 - December 20, 2009, 06:23 PM

TimeTravel

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Connie Willis uses "the net" (not the internet) as a means of time travel, and never really explains how it works.

In one of my books I use a magic coin for time/reality travel.  Even then, my geek son protested because matter was ceasing to exist in one reality and beginning to exist in another.  He insisted :) that I have some kind of matter transfer.  I settled on the air being sucked out of the room as they arrive and a gust of wind as they leave.
#12 - January 16, 2010, 07:53 PM

laura pauling

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 I totally agree with Jen that the rules have to be consistent. Even in young readers - Magic Tree House, and Time Warp trio (book with green smoke that transports them) there was a device. Does the door count - in books where kids enter a world through a door? What about Time Traveler's wife? There was no device, just stress that catapulted him to another time.

I think the believability comes with consistency and in the level of writing. If the author is good - I'll believe just about anything. I think L'Engle and Back to the Future was believable because there was some science thrown in too. I didn't understand it but they made me think I did.

Good luck.
#13 - January 17, 2010, 04:41 AM

SHRous

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D.J.MacHale uses "flumes" to travel between the worlds of Halla...they are transparent tubes that twist and turn like roller coaster rides and arrive at hidden doorways on the worlds in other dimensions.
#14 - January 17, 2010, 05:44 AM

LT

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Wow, thank you all for your thoughts. I've never read some of these books and will definitely look them up. TimeTravel, I'll have to read your book. It's sounds fascinating! I love the idea of the air leaving and entering a room. Thank you laura and SHRous for your thoughts. Flumes sound really cool. I'll have to read that book too! :)
#15 - January 19, 2010, 03:49 PM

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