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LJ Idol IX - 3. In Another Castle

In another castle, don't expect them to obey the rules
of your own. - Russian proverb.
(When in Rome, do as Romans do.)

Disclaimer. The following does not pretend any
in-depth knowledge of history or physics and is based very loosely on mythology and dates of known events.

From the Concise Dictionary of Scientific Knowledge1:

Tempo-history: On-site real-time studies of historical events undertaken by trained professionals (Tempo-historians, Travelers) temporarily displaced into the era using the early versions of time-space transporters developed in 22--. [...] The project was launched in 22-- and helped reconstruction and understanding of minor historical events spanning the 2d millennium of human history (Norman conquest of the British Isles, Battle of the Ice in the Rupublic of Novgorod, Battle of Agincourt, Boston "Tea Party" and early space exploration programs, to name a few). [...] It was discontinued within 50 years of its conception, however, due to increasingly high rate of non-returning Grokking (see Grok) Travelers. [...]

Grok: A profound understanding and empathy of observed phenomena rendering the observer part of the observed. Initially coined by one of the Science Fiction (see article) writers in the 20th century, this word found its current meaning with the advance of the Tempo-history project (see article) 200 years later, when it was first used to define the condition justifying a Traveler's non-return to their proper time after the expiration of their contract. One of the more widely known Grokking Tempo-historians, Anna (Andy) Dymov, [...]


"The reason that tempo-historians so often present themselves as magicians, witches, eccentrics of different kinds, is that the air of mystery that surrounds such figures, the superstitious fear their presence produces helps cover the future knowledge of the Travelers and their possible, if rare, slip-ups. The general public knows this.

"What you do not know until after you have signed up, made the acquaintance of the Psycho, - sorry, PSYCHE, the Psychological Characteristics Evaluater, and passed the first security clearance is that the temporal displacement is purposefully aimed at sites that were considered haunted, cursed or otherwise funny.

"What you do not know unless you are on the Techy track or security level 3, is that the project itself contributes to the so-called supernatural phenomena. It is all in the Uncertainty principle2, really, you can either be certain of the time or of the site of your arrival in the past, and as we can not very well have people falling out of thin air where everyone could see, site it is, and hence, 12-year contracts, for that is the price you pay to arrive within a small variation of coordinates at some time prior to the event of interest. But even then, electrical phenomena (clear day lightning), visual ("ghosts"), aural ("whispers"), and rarely, tactile ("clammy" touches) partial images of the transfer are not uncommon for months before and after the actual arrival of the Traveler.

"Indeed, my own posing as the local wise woman, Baba Yaga, in the village Gryaz3 several leagues to the West of Novgorod was greatly simplified by..."

"Karr-eless, karr-eless!"

Flinching, Andy slammed shut the panel hiding the computer unit she had only that morning finished installing in the hidden basement of her new house on chicken's legs4. Swiveling around on her rickety stool to face the intruder, she came face to face with a large black raven perched on the upper stair of the ladder leading to the rest of the house.

1The idea of using "dictionary" articles as introduction is shamelessly stolen from Azimov's Foundation novels. The author of the term "grok", according to the Internet, is Robert Heinlein.
2Absolute crock. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that knowing at once both the position and the impulse of an elementary particle (or the time when it possesses certain energy) is not possible. For the purpose of this story, I assume that sending something to a certain time and place in the past is similarly impossible.
4In Russian folk tales, grouchy old wise women, witches, Baba Yaga's, live in houses on chicken legs in the woods. They are often followed by various birds, and have "interesting" other pets. In order to enter their house, you have to command it to turn "its back to the woods, its face to you". And then deal with what you find inside. Being polite and really needing help usually helps.

Note: This story is intended as a stand-alone companion to Not of Your World, which happens 7-8 years later, and also to Snake, set 2 years before NoYW.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 30th, 2014 06:45 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

1. I hope I have pulled off the correct style in the "dictionary" entries.
2. And also that this is not too long or too heavy on various details.
Mar. 30th, 2014 08:17 pm (UTC)
Very interesting use of the prompt! I enjoyed.
Mar. 31st, 2014 11:59 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Mar. 30th, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
It's an intriguing view, and nice to set down the framework... hoping there's an opportunity to do some exploring!
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, hopefully there will be. There is more to say about it that is just asking to be let out.

Thank you.
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:41 am (UTC)
This is rather fun. Have you read any Connie Willis? She has several books that play off this idea, people sent back from a modern era and what they're observing / looking to do wherever it is they travel to.
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:36 pm (UTC)
No, I have not read any of her works.

There is another book by Russian SF writers, the Strugatsky brothers, titled "Hard work being a god" that influenced me, but it was quite different. There, historians studied another planet that was several hundred years backwards in development by pretending to be its natives.
Mar. 31st, 2014 02:29 am (UTC)
Impressive use of the prompt. I enjoyed reading it.
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Mar. 31st, 2014 04:49 am (UTC)
Grok is indeed a Heinlein invention. (In "Stranger in a Strange Land", should you be motivated. You've got the concept though, I think.)

This was enjoyable. I'd like to see more! :)
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:16 pm (UTC)
The concept was also an old Idol prompt which I had considered writing about in this world, but did not. I am glad it rings true.

There is more to say here, and I hope I will get the chance.

I am tempted to read the book now :)

Thank you!
Apr. 1st, 2014 12:15 pm (UTC)
I loved this unique entry and esp the new words and phrases used...interesting take!! Well done.
Apr. 2nd, 2014 08:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
Apr. 1st, 2014 01:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was a fun use of the prompt! I liked the dictionary style, and I enjoyed this story. ^_^
Apr. 2nd, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you :-). I am glad the "dictionary" entries are believable.
Apr. 2nd, 2014 07:38 am (UTC)
Very well done, and it does make me want to read more in this 'verse.
Apr. 2nd, 2014 12:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I hope I will get the chance to write more.
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
I like this take on baba yaga.
Apr. 3rd, 2014 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you :-)

I have always been kind of fascinated with this fairy tale character.
Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:02 pm (UTC)
Grok is one of those words that has transcended. I hate the book, I love the concept. I even was talking about it just yesterday!!

This is a really cool use of the prompt! Very clever.
Apr. 3rd, 2014 03:19 pm (UTC)
I hate the book
Aw, why? I was considering reading it, because I also fell in love with the concept ever since I was introduced to it in one of the earlier Idol seasons.

Thank you!

Edited at 2014-04-03 03:20 pm (UTC)
Apr. 4th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
I think... maybe it was because I was young? See, I love early Heinlein. It is so fun and light, and like Space Cowboys and Indians. And then I felt like he discovered sexuality and sex and drugs in stranger in a strange land so it is just heavier going.

Apr. 3rd, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC)
This is a really interesting premise. I like the dictionary articles. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Apr. 4th, 2014 09:50 am (UTC)
You're welcome.
Apr. 3rd, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC)
Haha-- I only love this concept, and the suggestion that travelers act as wizards/magicians/etc. to better incorporate their impossible knowledge.

But I love even more the idea that Baba Yaga was one such Traveler!
Apr. 3rd, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of writing up a dictionary / reference entry. Very cool!
Apr. 3rd, 2014 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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