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World Building Wednesday: The Passage of Time

Tweet of the Day: Is Your Character Stagnating?


This was going to be just one post, but after some consideration I decided to split up in multiple posts.

The question is Time.

Time appears on the surface to be a simple subject. Most world building starts with a timeline, a simple list of events from the an Event of some sort followed by a series of dates that mark other events until the present time of the story. However that’s not the only way time affects the story. For example, today we live in a world of hours, minutes and seconds, but for of our brief existence on Earth, the smallest  unit was the day, there was no way to measure accurately anything smaller than that. Religious and economic forces led to development of calendars of different accuracies based on astronomical observations. But even when clocks became common place in town squares, life outside the village green flowed to the passing of seasons, not hours.

Factor in long range travel, across the sea and widespread populations and now you have a problem of time zones as well. All of these are based on the relative position of the observer on the surface of the Earth relative to the Sol. Skip over to Mars or Venus and everything changes, simply because we measure years by how long it takes the Earth to rotate around the Sun, and other planets take longer or shorter routes. They also spin faster or slower on their axis thus having longer or shorter days, and lets not get started on planet size moons around gas giants who have to factor in the presence of their larger progenitor.

Then you have the question of travel, as in, how long it takes you to get from point A to point B. Are you traveling by foot to the nearest village or across the galaxy on a brand new starship.

As you can see the ever present hobgoblin of consistency tends to go into radical twists when Time is thrown into mix. Therefore I’ll be exploring the issue of Time over the course of the next several weeks.

I pray that I can wrangle some sense out of the subject.


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