Writing Echoes

Delijah's Writing Blog

Tag Archives: Timeless

Timeless (and how I decided to take a break)

Looking back I think that Timeless is a little (or not so little at 34,000 words) experiment on suspension of disbelief. I started toying with the idea, believe it or not, after watching one of the Wolverine movies. I was aiming towards some light science fiction with a touch of the unexplained, and I think it worked out as a story.

Timeless happens in an earth in which history has been slightly altered. Several historical events happened differently, which timeless_tora affected the way the world developed. For instance, even if the World War II happened, a few countries involved in reality were not the same, or the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan destroyed the whole island.

Genetics are way more advanced than in the real world because more funds were devoted to them instead of other fields of research. That is how Trek Corporation or TrekCorp (still now sure which name I am going to go with) can devote such large funds to the reconstruction of the Megalodon and the Dunkleosteus.

The unexplained factor appears from a character who just will not die – better put, he dies and then comes back to life. At first it felt, even to me, a little on the vampire kind of character, but soon he developed into someone with no angst about immortality and, what turned out even more interesting – someone with bad memory. Not bad memory itself, but someone who would forget events that happened in the past, like a regular human being would, and at the same time had a clear memory of others.

It was interesting to follow him in snippets through history – showing the slight diversions that I decided to introduce into that world.

Halfway through the story I lost quite a bit of steam, so when I went on vacations I decided to take a breather from it – and actually from writing altogether, and I came back refreshed. Even if it has taken me over five weeks to finish the story. It has really flowed from the moment I picked it up. Furthermore, my brain has been more open to ideas and characters lately, which did not happen since late last year, so I feel generally better about writing these days.

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Steam – Dioscuri and Timeless

I have noticed that recently I start a story with a lot of momentum, but that dissipates as I work on it. When I finished Dangerous men I started working on a story about two twins that found out about each other in their late twenties and their struggles when they finally met face to face. I came up with the title Dioscuri from the Roman Romulus and Remus.

For a while I was writing Dioscuri and it flowed pretty well, but then I was hit by another plot bunny. Barely a month after starting Dioscuri I was at the same time working on Timeless, which is a story about a samurai who commits suicide to please his master, only to find out that he cannot die. Well, he can die, what he can’t is remain dead.

I wrote a few snippets of Timeless, then went back to Dioscuri, started Timeless main arch, then decided to change half of it and when I wrapped Dioscuri up I turned to Timeless once again. Confused? I bet.

For the first month Timeless flowed pretty well (does this sound familiar? Thought it would). I did a ton of research and I had fun doing so. I built up on the world and developed the slightly distorted history that yielded to a world which is a lot like the real one, but still a bit different. I developed my characters and worked the story from three points of view.

And then puff. Steam gone. I have a new character in my head who suddenly seems to be absorbing more attention than the Timeless main characters. I wrote a short unrelated story on Friday and another one today, Sunday. Also for some reason I feel like picking up unfinished long stuff, such as Shorai, which is strange. The Timeless world is very vivid in my head at the moment, but the characters are not as strong right now? I am not sure and it kind of bothers me.

The Megalodon Shark

Megalodon (from mega, big, and odon, teeth, which can be translated as ‘big teeth’) is an extinct species of shark which lived in the Cenozoic Era: 28 (late Oligocene) to 1.5 million years ago (early Plistocene).

Sharks are cartilaginous fish, which means that their skeleton is not made of bone, but cartilages. That is why we don’t have even remotely complete Megalodon fossils. Most that have been found are teeth and some vertebrae – as a matter of fact there is a partially recovered spine column that has around 150 vertebrae, the bigger ones having 11.5 cm in diameter. The total length that a Megalodon had has been calculated as something between 16 and 20 metres (that’s at least three times a Great White), with a mouth that was 3 metres tall and 2 metres wide.

Sharks have different (up to six) rows of teeth in their mouth, one behind the other. The gums ‘rotate’ to supply new teeth whenever the previous one falls – therefore they are always ‘changing’ their teeth. In numbers, that means that Megalodon had a total of about 275 teeth at any given time, 24 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw (Florida Museum of Natural History).

These teeth were triangular in shape with fine serrations alongside the borders and a visible v-shaped neck (the part which goes into the gum). Megalodon teeth can measure over 18 centimetres in diagonal.

Megalodon, like the Dunkleosteus fish (note that they did not co-exist) was an apex predator, and fed on anything that roamed the ocean. Sharks are known for their feeding frenzies, where they bite on anything that moves. Furthermore they explore things with their mouths (think of a baby which puts everything in his or her mouth), and the Megalodon should have been no exception: they fed mostly on marine mammals such as whales. It was a fast swimmer and rammed their preys to break their bones and crush their organs before killing and eating them. It would probably attack from underneath – sharks are darker on the dorsal side so you don’t see them from above and lighter on the ventral part so you don’s see them from below.

meg-vsGWS
Comparison between a fossil Megalodon teeth and two Great White shark’s teeth, by Wikipedia Users Brocken Inaglory and Parzy

 
There is a bit of an Internet snoop going on about Megalodon surviving to today, and Discovery Channel sure as hell did not help with their docufucition in 2013, but such a creature roaming freely in the world’s ocean would not go unadverted, especially considering how Megalodon was widely spread when it was alive. It would have chewed on one too many boats by now for us not to have found out.

Which is a pity.

Then again. Are we sure the Titanic’s iceberg was such and iceberg?

[Base information: Wikipedia, Megalodon: Giant Shark]

The Dunkleosteus fish

Placoderms (Class Placodermi, which means “plate-skinned”) were prehistoric fish, which roamed the ocean from the Silurian to the end of the Devonian (Age of Fish) periods, approximately 443 to 359 million years ago. They went disappeared as the ecological communities suffered the changes due to the environmental changes between the Devonian / Carboniferous extinction event (EvolutionWiki).

Their main characteristic was that the head and thorax were covered by articulated armoured plates. Usually, the head shield articulated with the thoracic armour to allow jaw movement (Systematic Biology). The rest of the body was either naked or covered with scales. Placoderms were among the first jawed fish, thus being the precursor of all jawed vertebrates. Usually, the head shield articulated with the thoracic armor to allow for movement of the jaws. They are currently known by their fossils.

One of the most famous placoderms was the Dunkleosteus (after David Dunkle and ‘osteus’, meaning bone in Greek). Dunkleosteus lived about 380–360 million years ago, during the late Devonian. The largest species was D. terrelli (or D. terelli, depending on the page), which could measure up to 10 m and weight over 2 tonnes. The D. terrelli was a carnivorous apex predator (aka, it did not have predators itself). The average Dunkleosteus would have been 6 m long, with a 1.3-m wide skull. The armoured plates were as much as five centimetres thick.

Dunkleosteus did not have teeth, but the bony plates around the jaw were shaped in a razor-like structure which sharpened against the other half. According to the University of Berkeley a fossil was found in 1997 in Antarctica which had preserved some pigment cells: the fish had a red dorsal (back) side, and an iridiscent silver ventral side, making them the oldest vertebrate whose colours we know about.

As an apex predator, the D. Terrelli would have been feeding on everything it could find, even members of its own species. It would be classified as a pelagic marine predator, as it hunted in the open ocean. It is thought that it was not a fast swimmer, due to the heavy plates, but a very powerful one.

[Base information: Wikipedia: Dunkleosteus, Placoderms.]

Dunkleosteus

Dunkleosteus head fossil, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo. Picture by yours truly

 
 
What do you think could happen if it were possible to bring these fishy back to life?