That Woman on the Lawn



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,“That Woman on the Lawn”


Quicker Than The Eye

Ray Bradbury


1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to

determine the purpose of our site).


Romance. Ghost story.
2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
A man sees a ghostly visitor crying in his lawn at night. He approaches and speaks to her, and eventually they realize that she is his own mother from when she was young—before he was born. In meeting each other, the mother is able to get a sense of peace about her unborn child, and the son is able to understand the humanity of his absent mother.
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a specific story?
They are able to meet at night and talk. They recognize each other, and can use language to change the past and the present. They cannot, however, interact on a physical level.
4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be specific).
The lawn; at nighttime; with a particular state of melancholy.
5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
Obviously, the rigidity of time is challenged in both directions. However, the story allows these paradoxes to be naturalized by making them interpretable by both mother and son as dreams (or nightmares).
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
The motivation is stolen from ghost stories: the mother and son both have an unmet familial need, and simply do what is required to meet it.
7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)

have learned from their time travel experience?

The characters learn that family bonds can be meaningful even when they are completely isolated chronologically.

“The Night Meeting”


The Martian Chronicles

Ray Bradbury


1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to determine the purpose of our site).
Science fiction.
2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
An early human settler on Mars encounters, while driving to a party, a Martian. However, the Martians are all dead. The Martian telepathically & instantly learns English, and engages the human in conversation. The Martian sees a great thriving town in the distance; the human sees only ruins. Both creatures know themselves to be fully real, even though one greatly antecedes the other in time. They become friends, of a sort, and then leave for their respective venues.
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a specific story?
I will consider the Martian a person. So: the one person can have only limited interaction with the other. They can see one another, but each finds the other translucent and insubstantial. They cannot engage in physical contact—they pass through each other—but the Martian is able to telepathically acquire the English language.
4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be specific).
The catalyst for the time travel is a particular smell of Time (“like dust and clocks and people”) surrounding a particular ruin. By envisioning the way the ruins might have looked, the human is able to travel and receive his visitor.
5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
Both characters have their own narrative present, but one is clearly far before the other.
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
The human time-travels because it allows him to deepen his understanding of historical Martian society.

7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)

have learned from their time travel experience?

Both human and Martian learn that their cultures have an awful lot in common. They empathize with each other, rather than fear each other.

“The Witch Door”



Quicker Than The Eye

Ray Bradbury


1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to determine the purpose of our site).
Horror. Ghost story.
2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
A couple living in a Salem farmhouse in midwinter are waiting for a fugitive friend to arrive when they again hear cries from the Witch Door. The wife convinces the husband to open up the Witch Door, and a barefoot woman leaps out and runs off into the snow. When the friend arrives and urgently needs to be hidden, they put her into the cubby behind the Witch Door. When the coast is clear, they open to Door but she is missing. They deduce that she has traveled back to the year 1680.
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a specific story?
People are exchanged in pairs from past to present. Questions of causality are unresolved—we never know if the woman cried from the Witch Door because the fugitive was about to arrive, or vice-cersa.
4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be specific).
A Witch Door—a cubby beneath the stairs—with a concealed entrance. Designed to hide accused witches during the 17th century.
5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
None, really.
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
To escape from danger.
7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)

have learned from their time travel experience?

Nothing is learned except the truth of the Witch Door’s function. A small problem is solved, but it creates a much larger one.


The World Jones Made

Philip K. Dick


1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to

determine the purpose of our site).


Science fiction. (religious allegory?)
2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
Jones is a man whose mind and body are separated by a nine month span. Jones uses his strange ability to acquire wealth, to take over the planet, and to reshape it strangely. He is eventually assassinated, but it is implied that he had arranged for this as the final part of his plan.
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a specific story?
Jones has a bifurcated presence in time. His body always exists in the present; his mind continuously exists from the present moment to a moment nine months hence.
4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be specific).
There is no device, beyond Jones’ brain and body.
5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
Jones knows everything that will happen in the next nine months; it is unclear as to whether he is shaping the future or merely acting it out—or whether this is even a meaningful distinction. This is the main thrust of the book.
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
Jones’ ability is innate; however, he explicitly uses it to achieve his desires over those of his fellow men. Even if his plans go wrong, he can account for them / incorporate those failures into his plan and get what he wants.
7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)

have learned from their time travel experience?

The characters on Earth and Venus, through Jones, are taught once more how to dream and imagine themselves in a better environment—and then construct that environment.

“The Hundred Light-Year Diary”


Axiomatic

Greg Egan


1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to determine the purpose of our site).
Science fiction.
2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
In a future Earth where humans can write diaries and send them into the past (so that a young adult has available a daily diary of his entire life), a man’s diaries begin to diverge from his actual experiences. He begins to fib in his own diaries, and eventually stops writing them entirely. But then how did he receive his completed diary in the first place?
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a specific story?
Information can be sent into the past and decoded there. Matter (macroscopically speaking) cannot.
4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be specific).
Via “time-reversed galaxies”—wherein it is possible to receive quantum information from the future, when the Universe is in its re-contraction phase—humans can exchange quantum information with regions in which the direction of time itself are reversed. This technology is interfaced via a computer network.
5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
The protagonist receives a fictitious diary from his own future. That is to say, his present experiences and his mapped future do not match. So did he actually live two divergent lives? Or is the diarized life a fake constructed by the computers that govern time-travel?
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
People find security in knowing the facts ahead of time. For example, election results are known well in advance of the polling.
7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)

have learned from their time travel experience?

Depending on the interpretation of the story, the protagonist could have learned one of a few things.

If the protagonist actually lived two different lives, then he has discovered some strange new property of time. If he has not, then he has discovered a that the computer systems that drive his society are not trustworthy.
But he’ll probably never know which is the case.

“Mozart in Mirrorshades”

Bruce Sterling / Lewish Shiner
1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to

determine the purpose of our site).


Alternate history. Historical fiction.
2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
A project to siphon oil from an alternate 1775 AD breaks down and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a renowned punk rocker, manages to obtain a Green Card that will allow him to return to Realtime.
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a

specific story?


 alternate history – the world splits like branches from a tree.

 It is possible to take natural resources (oil) and manmade artifacts (art, etc) to Realtime as long as they are stolen from alternate, rather than actual, pasts.


4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be

specific).


Travel takes place through a physical portal controlled and maintained from Realtime. It is a man-sized pipeline through which oil, phone wire, and mail travels.
5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
Historical figures have different roles. King Louie is a locksmith; Marie Antoinette is a dilettante, Jefferson is the first president of America (inaugurated in 1773). There are ethical concerns: should the lives of these people be given greater respect even though it doesn’t impact Realtime’s past, present or future?
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
It’s a cheap source of natural resources and cultural treasures.

7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)

have learned from their time travel experience?

Nothing. People from Realtime are instructed not to fraternize with the alternate world’s inhabitants, but they pay absolutely no attention to this warning.

Calvin & Hobbes

Bill Watterson
1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to

determine the purpose of our site).


2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a

specific story?


4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be

specific).


5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)

have learned from their time travel experience?

The Time Machine

H. G. Wells


1) To what genre does a specific story belong? (the Q is important to

determine the purpose of our site).


Science fiction. Travel to distant (fantastic) future.
2) Sketch the plot of the story in a few sentences.
The Time Traveler relates to his dinner-party his experiences in travelling to the year 802,701 AD. Two distinctly evolved species of humans—the Eloi and the Morlocks—live out a physical (e.g. Darwinian) oligarchy. Narrowly escaping from his adventures there, he winds up at the time of the end of life on Earth. He then returns to his own time.
3) What are the main narrative rules by which travel takes place in a

specific story?


Time is traversed just like the other three primary dimensions. The Time Traveller can interact with and change the settings in and inhabitants of the distant future.

4) What is the device involved in time travel/How is it used? (be

specific).

“Parts were of nickel, parts of ivory, parts had certainly been filed or sawn out of rock crystal. The thing was generally complete, but the twisted crystalline bars lay unfinished upon the bench beside some sheets of drawings…” (p.17)
It is a machine with a seat for one pilot and lever controls to choose the distance & direction of travel.
5) What paradoxes did you discover as you were reading the stories?
Paradox is not an issue in the text.
6) Motivation: Why do people timetravel?
The Time Traveler wants to test his invention, prove his hypotheses about the nature of time (see #3), and satisfy his own curiosity.
7) We did not discuss this, but I think it's important: what, if anything,

have the characters of the story (and implicitly we, and our audience)



have learned from their time travel experience?


  1. in the setting of Eloi and Morlocks, the Time Traveler sees a powerful critique of capitalistic and/or oligarchic societies.

  2. In the further distant future, he learns of the ultimate futility and inscrutability of life on Earth.






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