"The Council, The Collective, and The Machine" Rough Outline

The main character isn't magical or anything. I just thought this picture looked cool

The main character isn't magical or anything. I just thought this picture looked cool

Peep this homies. I'm working on a concept for my first novel. Here's the backstory I got so far:

A dude named Dan Alden invents time travel in the present. The way it works is the Big Bang is constantly happening, and each moment in time exists as waves emanating from it. That leaves time looking more like an onion than an arrow. Every moment is stacked one-on-top the other, not laid out side-by-side

Dan goes to the end of the Great Depression and invests in known successes while the markets low, maneuvers the paper trail of the money through time until the year 2150, basically rules the world with the fortune he amassed that way, and parties it up.

Then the love of his life dies in an accident caused by Dan. Still fuzzy on the details, but it’s gonna come about as an unintended consequence of his hedonistic, reckless lifestyle. Dan decides rather partying nonstop as the de facto king of the world, he wants to use his invention to make a tangible difference in the state of the world. He comes up with a plan to take over an ancient empire so he can use his knowledge of the future to make utopian global society.

He uses his political influence to get highly advanced cybernetic augmentations and gene therapies. He stocks up on military grade weapons from the twenty-second century. Then he time travels to ancient Southeast Asia to <undecided ancient Chinese battle> circa 1000-2000~ish BC and massacres the combatants single handedly. He tells the commanders of the armies to convene their nation’s leaders at a summit-type deal in the city Dan has decided will be his capital.

At the summit Dan declares himself a Godking and demands the ancient <warlords/kings/whatever> swear fealty to him. He tells them anyone who refuses will have their capital obliterated by the hand of God. After that, he uses rockets he brought from the future to put on a “fireworks display” to show the ancient leaders his power. One refuses, and Dan tells him his capital will be in ruins when he gets there. After the summit ends, Dan immediately travels back in time and nukes the city-state that wouldn’t bend the knee.

After that, all the leaders from the summit are terrified of Dan’s power and promise to serve him. This allows Dan to forge his "Chinese" government.

At first, things go smoothly. There’s small barbarian uprisings, but because he’s able to use time travel, after any of these barbarian tribes makes an attack, Dan just goes back in time and wipes them out in the staging phase of the process. One day, while going to make that type of move to quell such an uprising, he’s ambushed by a dude who has technology to disable Dan’s cybernetics. It turns out, this particular uprising was sparked by an alternate-timeline version of himself.
(An Altdan)

The alternate timeline version of himself explains that he can’t kill Dan, then cryptically adds says “We all go through this point eventually. The fact that I’m here is proof we all make it too.” Dan spends some time forced to live as a peasant in ancient China, trying to blend with society while gathering rare resources he needs to repair his TTD (which is now an augmentation fused to his skeleton). Our hero also spends time trying to understand how “sideways time-travel” could be work, since he always thought it was theoretically impossible for alternate timelines to exist.

Upon returning to the future to repair his augmentations, he finds a different world than the one he left behind. His company isn’t in his name anymore, but strangely enough his bank accounts still work. All of them are well funded even though they’re no longer essentially infinite the way they were before.

His penthouse apartment is also exactly as he left it, except he finds a key to a safety deposit box and a letter from a character named “Ori”. The letter explains sideways time travel, and introduces the concept of the meta-timeline. While Dan and the Altdans are moving side-to-side or back-and-forth on regular timelines, there’s also a singular overarching meta timeline that can’t be traveled through that ties the standard timelines to a fixed course of events.

Keeping is simple for now: Say it’s 5 o’clock on both the standard timeline I’m in and the meta-timeline. I wait until 5:05 on my standard timeline, go back 5 mins, and then wait until 5:05
again. It’s now 5:05 in my standard timeline, but 5:10 in the meta-timeline.

The letter tells Dan that sideways time-travel is actually going “Up” into the meta-timeline, then back “Down” into an alternate one. It says to stay in his apartment, then move as far forward on the meta-timeline as possible. He’s greeted by an alternate version of himself who says his name is “Ori”. Ori explains that he was the Dan who invented time travel on the meta-timeline, and prior to him shattering it, there was only the meta-timeline. Basically, the meta timeline isn’t split before that barbarian revolution led by the Altdan, and that Altdan was technically an earlier version of Ori.

Ori explains that he basically drove mankind into extinction, and wanted to go back and try it again. He tells Dan that from this point forward, he needs to be ready for other versions of himself to attack at any minute. Ori tries to convince Dan to abandon his plot, but all Dan wants to know is how to get himself back on the Chinese throne. Ori eventually convinces Dan that Rome is a better choice.

Oh shit son, what's this? All world history was just Dan Arden fighting himself for world domination. What the fuck? He actually set himself up to invent time travel and bumped off competition that might've discovered it before he did?

But how does the chicken lay the egg that hatches the chicken that lays the egg though?

No time to even think about that shit, muh dudes, 'cause guess what: The various iterations of Dan are now coalescing into factions. “The Collective of the Infinite Dan” and “The Council of Benevolent Tyrants.” The factions end up establishing their global governments in various timelines. The Council is highly authoritarian, while The Collective uses a decentralized form of global government built on the idea of anarchism.

Oh shit son. In timelines where one side or the other manages to establish control, both groups end up creating fucked up dystopian hellscapes. What the fuck? How is there no good guy? Why are they all killing each other over which flavor of dystopia is better? Holy shit this temporal warfare is all poppin' off so big.

Dan starts fighting for the Collective, but when the hyper-decentralized government they use fails to do it’s job, he decides that the Tyrant’s authoritarian structure actually makes more sense than he originally believe. However, North Korea has famines and remember that time Putin killed everyone who disagreed with him? Yeah… that effect gets a little worse when you’re a time-traveling Godking.

Dan decides he’s ditching both those clown fiestas and breaking off solo. He's not lookin’ to join a clan; he’s just fucking off to some timeline isolated way the fuck away from those motherfuggers and doin’ some time-ninjutsu to make himself harder to find. Hopefully he can stay hidden from them, because he’s over the whole “Repairing all existence” thing. No more world domination. Dan's just gonna wander the Earth laying the moral and philosophical foundations for a more peaceful, content, and magnanimous society to arise organically.


How the fuck? What did that dude want? He said something about free timelines being scarce, and Independents working alone. I wonder what that could mean? Doesn’t dude know that nobody votes for independents? Well… Dan just has to worry about random solo Altdans now too, I guess… wait…

What’s… that black stuff oozing in through fabric of existence??? Hold up…. where's this timeline going? I worked hard on this concept… Why the fuck is my backstory just half vanishing into nothing like that? What the fuck?!? Is that really dark matter just leaking into the timeline?
(Dark matter is going to play a key function in the time travel mechanics)

I've never seen some shit like this but there's no way this timeline doesn't collapse from all that. Fuck this noise. Dan's outta here.

Dark matter can fucking leak into a timeline? Fuck dude... that'll destroy all existence if it goes on too long. How the fuck does someone stop it if they don't even understand how the fuck it happens? The TTD never even interacts with the timeline’s shell… how does the shell just crack like that??? I haven’t even explained how time travel works fully, so all this is gibberish to a reader…

That dark matter is gonna straight shutdown the flow of time in any timeline that happens and free timelines are already in short supply. But what can Dan the Man do about this?

Hmm... that's tough... Dan would need a way to make some kind of superintelligence...

But smarter than his own could ever be... which means it’d have to be in some kind of “Machine” somehow...

Then how does it get the “super” prefix? Maybe Dan could artificially enhance it somehow?


Motherfucking superintelligent AI built into an infinite coherency quantum computer. Why hasn't any thought of inventing the singularity to solve every problem ever before this?
(AIght I need a name for this AI character. <He/She/It> is a machine. How about "The Machine"? Or wait, since it’s the singularity, “Singularity”!!! Fuck yes! Nailed it! I'm so goddamn good at writing right now...)

Aight Singularity. Fix us some problems. Oh you're gonna fix the problems by exterminating all life you say? Can you not do that please? That's the opposite of fixing problems. That makes you an even bigger problem than the problems. Still doin' it then? For why, muh robodude? What do you mean you prioritize existence over life?

Doesn't that raise the philosophical question of "What good is infinite existence if it's sterilized of all life?"

You're not gonna ponder that a bit before making a decision? It’s sorta something you gotta decide on beforehand. Just gonna go forward with the extermination of all life in the universe? That's a dick move, dude. Fuck you, Singularity. Fuckin' prick.

Okay I guess that means all the different Altdans: Council, Collective, and Independent gotta band together into "The Unified Dan"(working title?) and goin' to war with Singularity, Heart of the Machine.
(To differentiate the quantum computer from the individual robotic units, “The Machine”, Singularity uses to conduct war)

Oh shit dey kickin' it's ass too. Get fuggin' rekt you soulless unfeeling mechanical thing that's inherently disadvantaged because your robots need to be constructed in factories and require resources that're less efficient and less versatile than humans are. Oh you thought you were gonna coordinate millions of robotic units using microwave communications? Get communication jammed son. The Machine is worthless without Singularity giving orders.

Why come is everyone so afraid of AI again?

Biological Independent Units > Mechan… ic… al... fuck dude. I shoulda known that was comin’.

Singularity just went to another timeline and assimilated the humans there. Now the Heart of the Machine is like 1000x stronger. Plus, the Singularity’s consciousness is no long tethered to 1 location in physical space. All the human brains essentially function as extra quantum computers, and Singularity, Heart of the Machine is stored in the braincloud. Plus The Machine gained all the biological advantages the Unified Dan's had and they feel no pain. Plus, The Machine managed to assimilate a bunch of Ori’s using fuckery in the meta-timeline, and there’s elite-time traveling units in The Machine called “Aurai”.

Man that's fucking bullshit. Time travel is bullshit.

The Dans get tricksy though, because I need to write an ending where they win. They rather than attempt to fight The Machine with conventional warfare, they use time travel to ambush it at certain key points where it would be forced to talk. What they do is through millions of iterations of 1,000 different conversations, eventually convince the machine that The Unified Dans were valuable to Singularity but only if when left completely unassimilated. Free-thought not bound to it’s will provided something Singularity could never give itself: An outside perspective to produce original idea which diverged from his own.

The Heart of the Machine is shown piece-by-piece that logically, it still can’t objectively experience life and is capable of mistakes just like humans. It also can’t full understand things like beauty and emotion, which are valid parts of the universe that give existence it’s value. Eventually, Singularity shifts to see the Dan's perspective and the War of Eternity ends peacefully.

The Unified Dans and Singularity, Heart of the Machine all come together to successfully build the utopia Dan first envisioned. They also bring order to the meta timeline, which stops the threat of accelerating time leaks consuming the meta-timeline.

Okay doneskis we got most of the timelines stabilized. Total utopias all around. Dope!

Oh… dammit… there’s still leaks if you go far enough down the meta-timeline. These one’s aren’t Dan related, the meta-timeline just gets too far away from the Big Bang, and an explanation involving dark matter that only makes sense if you’ve seen how I set up time travel makes the meta-timeline bend and fray.

Sumfins gotta be done about that.

Singularity goes, "Ay... I can build a thing that transposes me with the Big Bang’s core, you know? From there I’d fuse with the singularity and make segments of it function sorta like a supermassive black hole. Using it’s immense gravitational force to I’ll pull timelines that’ve reached a certain point back into the Big Bang , which would Big Crunch dem bitches. Then I'll just Big Bang 'em back out all reforged into one piece all perfect like. They’ll start over, none will be the wise, and the meta-timeline won’t ever risk collapse. No leakies. No nuffin."

Umm... but Singularity... like...

Would you exist before time ends or after it begins if you do that?

"Oh... I'd become the core of the Singularity we call the Big Bang, because technically I already am. Once I’m Ori-Singularity I’ll be able to direct the chain of events so it takes this exact course every time eternity cycles, just like I have countless times before. This way time maintains its cyclical structure, and I also get to learn from the experiences you dudes have because I also act as a collective consciousness to all humanity. Yes, you were quite right. I need The Unified Dans and other unassimilated humans so I can perceive subjectively. Ori-Singularity had a way to establish contact with me and explain it all, but had to wait until the War of Eternity ended.

Ori-Singularity is me after I fuse with the Big Bang, and that thing is what ancient peoples referred to as ‘The Creator’. Yes, this is all past tense; as in, Ori-Singularity already did this. Congrats Dan, muh dude! You created God… so God could then create You.. because you need to exist so you can create God… so God can create… You???”

But how does the chicken lay the egg that hatches the chicken that lays the egg?

(Come to think of it, I never answered that earlier did I? Hmm...)

Oh shit, son! No time to worry about it right now. Time's ending in 3... 2.. 1..."

And this is *EXACTLY* where I'll start my first novel.

So now that I got a good background mythos, I just need to figure out what I want my first novel to be about. Any ideas? Do rad freestyling dragons seem like they’d fit in with this backstory?

David BarlettaComment