Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kimberly Trix Lee is talking with Gabriel F.W. Koch, author of Paradox Effect: Time Travel and Purified DNA Merge to Halt the Collapse of Human Existence.
FQ: Time travel novels are a popular, but difficult, topic to attempt. What drew you to the genre?
KOCH: History is human activity indelibly etched into time. The only way to alter the result would be to travel back in time. It is a rather thrilling idea, tinkering with ancient lives. And the multiple paradox possibilities are both breathtaking and staggering. The smallest change might have the largest effect on the future.
FQ: The story switches from 1954, to 2254 and 2755. How/why did you choose these three times?
KOCH: Post World War II in America was a celebration of an incredible victory and ripe with limitless opportunities. Industries created and recreated by the war thrived and expanded rapidly. For the first time in history advertising, through radio and the newly available TV strode into every life except the most rural areas. Sales of what before the war was unnecessary, skyrocketed.
Then more than ever before human activity began to seriously damage the environment.
People moved around so much after the war, and as a direct result of the war that no one was disturbed by the sudden appearance of new people.
It is actually a fascinating decade. I don’t think any before or since compare. So I anchored the plot there.
As for 2254 and 2755...well first I believe time travel is possible but the science complex and elusive. Because of that I decided we might need centuries before time travel would happen. In 2254 time travel is a well-regulated means of attempting minor alterations of the past to heal the future. Three hundred years later, the effects of what I think of as the human self-destruct gene has driven the numbers of natural born humans to around five thousand.
FQ: At the end of the story, Dannia was given a choice. I know it was intentionally left open but, without any spoilers, what can you tell us regarding what she chose to do in the end?
KOCH: The choices were return to the distant future or live in the past with her new family. The future became a serious unknown due to the paradox. The past challenging, but hopeful.
FQ: Are the Blaylocks genetically engineered humans from an even further timeline beyond 2755?
KOCH: Yes. They were engineered in a special laboratory designed by a woman named Blaylock, no first name. The Blaylock sisters run the time travel program enacted in the twenty-seventh century. There are males, brothers whose assignments are more like messengers to the past. They cannot alter anything.
The sisters have the power and knowledge to manipulate their Gate system even to the point of creating locality Gates to move instantly from place to place in a given time without leaving that time. The do not share this knowledge.
FQ: When the first wave of consequences of Dannia's pregnancy occurred in 2254, we learn that there were thousands of people missing and that new people appeared out of nowhere. Can you explain this?
KOCH: When Dannia’s paradox awakened with the birth of her son consequences unanticipated occurred. New science is not exact so those who sent her back gambled honestly. They believed her mission would succeed, but what they attempted had never been tried before to any degree.
As the paradox slowly traveled up (to the future) the timeline beginning in 1954 collateral damage was worse than predicted in Buckwalder’s time 2254.
The Blaylock sisters, engineered without the emotions that would cause you or me to be aghast, stunned, horrified strove only to save future humanity. Their comp systems predicted it. In a way they gambled too but with a level of foreknowledge only possible for them.
Since nature abhors a vacuum, new children were born from new relationships. When a person disappears the knowledge of their previous existence does too. It may be a tricky balance but I believe it would work that way.
For the first few decades, change would be barely noticed. Then it would accelerate as the paradox progressed.
FQ: I’m so curious...who was the other lady in the photo that Dannia saw from that file that 989-9 intentionally left for her to see?
KOCH: The photo from the file left by 989-9 for Dannia to find was of Dannia’s mentor. The woman, who encouraged and finally convinced Dannia to join the Blaylock team.
FQ: The story was written from an omniscient narrator point of view. Would you tell our readers why this was your chosen POV?
KOCH: I chose omniscient POV because to do otherwise would’ve had me, and readers juggling POVs. Likely too much to keep track of and therefore either slow the reader and or create some frustration. (Anne Mc Caffery, author of Dragonriders of Pern and more, recommended that writers should write in a way that readers do not need to pause to understand something so the storyline flows smoothly. No distractions.)
It also gives a writer a bit more freedom to keep the storyline flowing without hesitation. There are writers, some quite famous, who switch POVs in a paragraph. I find that when they do I pause to switch characters.
FQ: I see that your most recent novel, No Escaping the Storm, has time travel elements too. Would you tell us a bit about this novel, as well as your military experience and how that helped you bring believability to the story?
KOCH: No Escaping the Storm gave me the opportunity to play with the idea of genetic manipulation through combining alien DNA with human DNA. In this story aliens from the future, their planet dying, travel to earth and using an aerial spray dumped over the nation with the largest and best equipped military begin conquering earth.
Only by accident did the CDC stumble upon a virus that counteracted and killed the invaders surrogates.
Not all humans with affected DNA die, which left a small number of super humans. They gathered together a new army and navy and attempted to invade the Norwest Territory.
My combat experience taught me about what I was willing to do to survive and accomplish my mission. It also showed me that I was willing, albeit without forethought, to put myself in harms way to help us succeed.
And of course, defined my limitations on how much collateral damage I was willing to accept. Not much.
With Harold and Willy, I was able to show the aftereffects of severe combat. PTSD can devastate and drive some vets into seclusion like Harold in the wilderness of the Norwest Territory, or Willy into the wilderness of a damage psyche.
FQ: Are you currently working on your next book? If so, would you give our readers a peek into the story?
KOCH: Currently I am writing a sequel to Paradox Effect tentatively tilted Paradox Helix. The following is an excerpt.
James Vandeventer adjusted the uncomfortable three button grey single-breasted suit he knew would help him blend in once he arrived. His era shoes were 3D fabricated French Shriner black wingtips. He wore a narrow red tie and white shirt. All of what he had on would help him step into life in 1964.
At least he hoped it would. His accent and grammar usage might be problem since he could not locate an accurate rendition in any of the recorded files from that time-period.
He had spent days searching through implant protocols as carefully as possible. He did not want his activities discovered by the frequent system wide scans run through the electronic network where return travelers downloaded from their implants and stored the data collected on from their travels.
Which included details not even the traveler was aware of while living in the part of ancient history their assignment sent them to.
He had chosen April 21st, a Tuesday. For him that day and month everything ended. For others it was the month everything began anew. The end of the horrors of past humanity’s misdeeds and misadventures.
April was the month that triggered the paradox that eliminated his entire family. Killed his wife, two sons, and three daughters. Before then he’d been one of the fortunate.
The clouds of pollution had not sterilized him or his wife. The clouds of red-orange sterilizing the unfortunate caught in its noxious rain, fallout sifting the atmosphere as it cycled the globe.
Of course many people were born without the ability to procreate due to contamination to their forebears. Birth defects were rampant and often deadly.
Before the change time began no one including the best-trained science and tech teams could prevent the steady demise of humanity for the past ten generations. In his time the group known as the five thousand could conceive healthy offspring. His wife Rachel a beautiful woman with blonde hair and vivid hazel eyes was able to conceive.
They’d been praised for the number of children they had. He knew given a few more years they would help rescue their dying species. His five children were tested. The results showed the three girls and two boys were healthy in every way. That alone was considered a miracle.
Then the woman Dannia Weston assigned to make a simple tech alteration to lessen air pollution in 1954 became pregnant. The infant’s father was natural born in the mid-twentieth century.
When her child was born the birth created, for James, a devastating paradox. He felt that it might wipe out humanity given enough time. It definitely obliterated his family life.
His wife and children disappeared as if they never existed while they prepared the evening meal.
The kids were doing educational assignments. All was normal one minute then the scene around him quaver. Everything except he began blinking and then suddenly he stood alone in the middle of a field of wildflowers. His family, his life was gone. His home and possessions were gone too.
He admitted thinking back that the flowers were unexpectedly beautiful, smelled amazing, but that was not enough for him.
What he never understood was why he remembered his wife and children and the place they lived, their shared history. A psych-bot informed him that the memories if real, were stored in his neuro-net, which he was given as a traveler. And that given enough time, they would fade and he would forget that past.
But James did not want to forget. So he recorded and stored on his personal cloud every memory, every detail about his family and their lives, their wonderful lives. That way he could always recall their love, joy, and lives in detail.
As the memories did start to fade his fear and frustration grew exponentially. He then created a plan to stop Dannia Foxlena Weston’s success.
The radical part of his plan included killing her and the boy outright. And to do it before the strength of the paradox they created took hold of the entire future. Therefore, he chose 1964 as the best year to end it all.
At the time Dannia gave birth, Vandeventer had felt outraged that General Buckwalder did nothing to stop it. Allowing the child to be born violated several laws of time travel written to protect the future from just such a paradox.
And if the general hadn’t acted no one else in authority had the power to override him.
Now James stood a meter from the solidifying time portal. He watched it connect his time and world to a place called New York City in the year 1964. Ten years to the day after Dannia Weston’s paradox killed his entire family.
He checked the medium size packet he carried in a leather briefcase, his fingers searching for and then brushing the items inside. This will end the boy’s life. That will trigger the paradox to reverse. My life will return to normal, my wife and children will again live with me.
He actually regretted the need, but could no longer stand the acute draining pain of loss.
The time portal connected. As he stepped forward to enter, he heard noise behind him. People shouting for him to stop, someone threatened to stun him.
He heard them getting closer, heard the sound of a laser pistol charging and dove head first into the glowing circle. A laser beam followed him, but was above him. He heard its hissing, singe the air and knew he’d survive.
Seconds later, he dropped two meters onto a wet grassy field in a place named Central Park, rolling down a slight decline. The laser beam hit the side of a statue of an ancient and long forgotten solider riding, he knew from his detailed research, a horse. An animal trained to carry people, an animal extinct for more than a century in his time.
The portal closed with a sound like a hawk’s cry. He knew the identity of the bird. Taught him in a class he attended years earlier. While he was young and restless and believed he’d be an affective traveler. There was the expected flash of blue light and he knew he was through and safe.