Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve - Time... ticking away

Timing-wise, I really lucked out this year, if having (alien romance) blogging rights to Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve counts as luck. My wrist watch also stopped for Christmas, which is an inconvenience.

When I was a virgin (there's superstition for you), I used to stop watches regularly. I had to wear them pinned to my breast, like a matron (in the medical sense). Now, it's probably a matter of battery life!

Happy New Year!

I don't consider myself an astronomical heavyweight, intellectually speaking.

My natural, romantic bent is to consider Pink Floyd rather than Cepheid Variables,
a man's reaction to the passing of his life (Time) rather than the fact that a light year is a measure of distance (nearly six trillion miles). The coolness and romance of the idea of The Dark Side of the Moon rather than the possibility of habitable worlds (moons) in tidal lock around a Gas Giant.

Not so long ago, I was seated at a dinner party next to a member of the Pink Floyd, and --naturally-- I asked about the thinking behind The Dark Side of the Moon, which is why I feel free to mention coolness and romance.

Time is rather interesting as part of world building. How would a civilization tell time if they spent generations aboard a space ark? What method would remain relevant? I chose the female reproductive cycle when writing Forced Mate... No doubt it had something to do with my inconvenient effect on wearable timepieces when I was younger.

Looking back, I'm immensely amused by the spoilsports who all said that we all celebrated Y2K on the wrong date (wrong year). I must have spent at least twelve hours watching televised celebrations from around the world: rock stars and sopranos atop magnificent buildings, paper lanterns rising into the sky like miniature hot air balloons, ballet on beaches, fireworks along major rivers...

Obvious as it is to say, tonight, different nations --and different states-- will mark the arrival of 2007 at different times. I'm especially aware of this for a really silly reason. Not because my mother lives in England and will be celebrating five or six hours earlier than I will, but because my publisher's forums are on Central time and I'm on Eastern, and I'm determined to log in at midnight, and help break an attendance record. (, midnight Central).

Greenwich Mean Time is very useful, but we don't all set our clocks by that. Not everyone follows the same calendar. Take the Chinese New Year.

Suppose there were an Antichthon

Would that world measure time in the same way that we do? Would Antichthon have a moon? How likely is that?

Too complicated for me, this morning, is the idea that someone leaving Earth, traveling into outer space, and returning years later would experience the passage of time differently, and may return as a time traveller (not the same age as the friends and colleagues who remained on Earth). It is an issue I must look into before I get much further with my next book, though.

The Sparrow was interesting on time. I know Star Trek measured time in Star Dates, but I don't know how that was calculated. I never noticed time being measured in Star Wars...

Any astronomers want to help me?

Happy New Year.

Rowena Cherry


  1. Anonymous12:50 PM EST

    Well, my brain doesn't process numbers easily, so I can't even begin to discuss stardates. In 'Star Captains' Daughter,' I did need to find a way to communicate a large passage of time to the reader. Since the main aliens in the story consider one of the heroines a divine envoy, I decided it made sense for them to commemorate her birth by marking time from it. Since she's human, they adapted the Julien calender. Since one culture adopting an element from another culture typically means not getting it exactly right, it made sense that they wouldn't get it right either. This way, I could have them measuring time from the month of her birth, July, but also from the human year indicator B.C.E. 'Before The Common Era' is what many scholars use now instead of B.C. or A.D. So, the year, 2287, will register with the reader while the exact month is not often necessary. Additionally, I have the humans celebrating some traditional holidays to help the reader orient. For example, the Russian pilot worries he won't go off-duty in time to celebrate epiphany services with his wife. This would put a serious damper on bedroom time because he thoughtlessly gave her hand towels for Christmas.

  2. You used to stop watches as a virgin, but I think I have you beat :D
    I can only wear a watch on my right wrist because if I wear it on the left one it goes haywire - loses or gains time etc. I can also detune radios and TVs! Thought we would be safe with our new large screen plasma TV - no such luck, just the other day I detuned it as I walked past (always happens at THAT time of the month too LOL).

  3. Ilona,
    You'd really enjoy Psychic Sunday at the RT convention. I attended last year, and loved it. Many of us stood up and mentioned that we were clock-stoppers.