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Dino Parenti's picture

Causality Loop

By Dino Parenti in Teleport Us

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Sending a man from the future to begin genetically altering humans in order to survive a future cataclysm and subsequent theocratic rule may have its consequences.


leah_beth's picture
leah_beth from New Jersey - now in Charleston, SC is reading five different books at once. February 21, 2013 - 5:57pm

I love a good mind-control story -and this is a good mind control story. I love that Gil is sooooooo careful about his thoughts - that he thinks about things AFTER, you know? I love that it's all religion/government/manipulation.

Overall, great job!! :)

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On February 21, 2013 - 7:57pm

Thanks, Leah. In fact, I think I dropped the ball a bit in not making that something that carries on throughtout the story as a more pronounced motif, especially with it being a story of multiple histories and time. Fo any future drafts after TU, I don't want it to go more than 5k, shich should be enough to give the characters a bit more meat while weaving in the tech-exposition with a little less clunkiness.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 22, 2013 - 9:09am

I certainly liked the mind control at the beginning – the idea of only thinking about things after the fact is a bit brain-bending.  Some of it seemed a bit passive to me, like a description of what was going on rather than a story.  That doesn’t take much away from the fact that the world you have created has a lot of depth and detail to it, and I really liked that sense of place.  The time-bending nature of the tale is also well done, I like the arguments over whether the mission succeeded or failed, but again that scene is a little passive as we are told this only through Gill, rather than seeing it for ourselves.  The slow changes to those involved is a great idea, and very well done.  The ending is great too, and I love the whole butterfly effect angle you’ve gone down.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On February 22, 2013 - 10:11am


Appreciate the comments, especially about it being passive in places. While I think he needs to be in the first baptism scene (because it's all about what he'll think later), I did intend for there to be more active participation, especially with the later success/failure scene. I did write one in fact, but the story ran way past the 4k to keep it in. Will put it back in for a later draft for certain. 

Frank Chapel's picture
Frank Chapel from California is reading Thomas Ligotti's works February 22, 2013 - 2:40pm

I was really thinking about voting down on this. I love stories of time travel, but the ending here fell short for me. I felt like i'd seen/read that sort of twist before.

However, the story delivered on a big part of the challenge. I felt very much "Teleported" to this other world controlled with these horrible religous fanatics.

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On February 22, 2013 - 9:54pm


The ending is something I definately want to refine more. Alas, I was close to passing the 4k count, so I feel it's a bit abrupt. 

Rob Pearce's picture
Rob Pearce from Cambridge, England is reading Lots of unpublished stuff and short story collections February 26, 2013 - 11:53am

I'm in the minority here, I see. I found the (rather inconsistent) present tense annoying. The constant references to thinking things later at the start felt like an authorial device rather than anything possible. Some of the phrasing for artistic effect was reversed... which just made it hard to read and in some cases plain misleading.

And I suspect I'll be in the minority again in disliking the whole "religion = dystopia" assumption that underlies much of it. Or, for that matter, the "disaster leads to mad religious sects" motif. World-wide devastation will lead to anarchy and chaos, not crazy pseudo-fantasy priests.

I also didn't buy into the GRB - 840 light years is a long way and we've seen some supernovas that close in the past without any noticeable effect on society, let alone the environment.

Incidentally, who is the "non-human character"? I seem to have missed it.

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce March 3, 2013 - 9:56am

Dino, unlike Frank I really loved the ending! I liked the themes in your story as I think you really grasped the dystopian angle that a lot of stories I've read so far need to strengthen. Thought control and religious extremities are a petrifying thought (and travelling through the south, I found the religious extremities a dystopian reality!). 

Things I think you could work on: I don't know if anyone else felt this way, but I thought the last half was really solid, with the pacing perfectly worked out. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I think there was almost a little too much of something (maybe exposition?) in the first half of the story that made it a bit of a heavier read. 

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On March 4, 2013 - 12:40pm

Interesting that you point out how the second half flowed well for you, since when I first wrote it I felt it was rushed. But when I read it a second time recently, I see what you mean. A little too much expo-itis in the beginning that could be tightened up.

Your experiences in the American south are hilarious! I love that you were able to see parallels.

Thanks for the crit!

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland March 3, 2013 - 9:33pm

I'd like to first counter Rob's statement that GRB isn't plausible. His argument being that supernovas have been that close and there hasn't been noticable side effects of that. He basically argues that it can't happen because it hasn't already happened, which i find quite silly.  

In our world he may be right. But take James Cameron for example: There aren't any Aliens, or Terminators or Avatars on Pandora(yet, *fingers crossed8) but the world building and story telling are what make great stories work, the writer's command allows us to suspend that disbelief and enjoy the ride. I think you executed that quite well, and in Your "fictional" future universe, it's very plausible.

I think I read that you and Courtney did some similar research for your stories. I read hers first and your opening reminded me of the technology used in her story, which I liked alot, in both.

I also agree with Jess, I don't disagree with Frank entirely. The revelation in the ending felt a little familiar but, I didn't see it coming and it was a pleasant surprise. I actually thought it was the strongest part of the story, and it tied everything together quite well.

Thanks for sharing, would love to read the slightly extended version if you feel so compelled to write it.


Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On March 4, 2013 - 12:45pm

Thanks for the words, JR. Yeah, I realized Courtney and I probably had read the same articles after-the-fact, and I wasn't about to change it by then! Hers was different enough on its own, and we both took it in different directions.

The ending did and still does bother me a bit because it feels rushed to me and not all that original--think about the third of all Twilight Zone episodes ever made kind of end like this. I think without the word contraints, I might be able to flesh it out and come up with something a little more unique.

Thanks for the words, brother.

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. March 6, 2013 - 10:07pm

A nice, smooth read except for a few minor things:

  • Page 3 "No sooner does he thinks this that he must" you need to fix "thinks" and "that"
  • Page 7 "that ferries as asteroid" the "as" should be an

The concept is an interesting one.  I'm used to expecting changes caused by time travel to have occurred with no way for those on the receiving end to discern anything has changed at all.  I found your world very interesting to experience.

Excellent Work!

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts March 12, 2013 - 8:25pm

I actually found your story to be quite creepy, Dino! The sects, the mind reading, the bleeds... All very unsettling (in a good way!) I agree with Jess, that the flow of the second half of the story was smoother for me. I was a bit confused about the changes in tenses, but then picked up on what you were doing and it all made sense.

I think the setting is strong and I liked Gil as a character. I actually enjoyed the ending and didn't see it coming. It has a sort of dreadful conclusion that you might get from a graphic novel, which I enjoyed. Nicely done!

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations March 22, 2013 - 8:05am

Hi Dino,

Ambitious story, with some fantastic ideas, but which alas, for me, doesn't fully work. I suspect with a higher word count, or some toning down on the "hard" sciencefiction element, it would have done, and it's close, but not quite there!

I always pay extra attention to the start of a story - these are the moments to grab people, so be careful what you include as well as exclude! "the design of which is to spur contrition," - I'd lose this altogether. It doesn't automatically flow from the "fluted surface of asymmetrical ridges", and it's "preachy", and doesn't tell me (I think) anything I need to know. With that in mind, you could go through the whole story, making sure what you include is what you - and the reader needs - and that would I think allow you to come under the word count, as well as smooth the ride.

And smoothing the ride is the key - for me, at least - as if it's difficult to follow, difficult to read, then people will stumble, and your sparkling ideas won't come through as strongly. This is largely in the overuse of scientific and medical terms. If Gil is a "lowly" technician, then you can scale all this way back, and pitch it as his rather than the scientists level. That will help everyone without a nobel prize follow it... :)

(I've read a similar story that plays out on a much smaller field, a man going back in time to tweak history, and keep tweaking it, making a king of the day survive a battle (by telling him how to gold plate his armour, rather than fight in soft gold itself) ... It worked better, because it was easier to understand, and you need that when messing around with time!)

I like the fact that when you have earth shattering events, you're going to get cults and superstition. This seems right. That they are terrible, again, after a apocalypse, that I could believe. That a small group of scientists could construct an asteroid and a wormhole, without presumably government support, seems a stretch!

The idea of the constable, of being able to spot strong emotions, is a good one, but makes the description of the service complicated. All the "he'd feel later" - I got that, but you had to keep repeating it. And maybe this is why I never quite got what they were doing that was so terrible to the unborn child.

Similarly, I didn't get how the sowing would work - what message was being sent that would have made mankind protect itself from the GRB, which by necessity does not warn of it's impending happening?

Ditto, the first amendment, surely they wouldn't aim to fire it at the earth to prevent the sowing, at the risk of wiping out everyone? (Or would they, knowing how few survived the GRB?) And we never really know whodunnit?

And the final one, as Gil returns, transformed. he goes back to 2033, so if he'd been successful - as the fact that many of the cult eyes blaze, then surely there would be bigger differences, they wouldn't all be living underground, way out in 2284?

As for Marshall, he seems an important figure who then fades away from the story. And then late on you introduce Finch's wife - maybe a small character cull might help, especially for a short!

So a good effort, but some surgery needed!


Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On March 30, 2013 - 4:01pm


Sorry, I haven't been checking on this for a while, and since you put such time into it, I wanted to acknowledge your critique. Surgery indeed! This was my first attempt at hard scifi, and as a consequence I was worried of information overkill, which I clearly did. You made some really good notes here, especially about them not living underground in the future after the last time jump. The end was something that came to me last minute, and thus wasn't fully thought out, so thanks for that. The intent with the unborn child was that they were seeding faith into him at the fetal level before he/she has had a chance to develop it or not on his own. It's a preemptive move to assure religious fidelity. Again, I'm sure I overwrote this. At some point I'll dust it off and really give it a going-over, and I'll definately be using your comments as a starting point. Thanks again for the critique.