Thursday, 20 November 2014

Time travel via Google

The current work in progress is to do with time travel, and in the course of the novel my characters will visit the same places at different eras. As usual, the setting is my part of London; even so, I sometimes check out a location virtually on Google Street View. 

Yesterday I discovered a curious anomaly; most of Street View round Hoxton dates from July 2014. But there is one spot, just one, on the map where you can see my workshop in August 2008. And it's like going back in time.

So many changes - Hoxton Boutique has gone, the black door is now yellow, next door is a building site covered in scaffolding. Even the lamppost, which used to hover outside my window like a levitating Dalek, has been replaced. (I often used to wonder whether, in dire emergency, I would be brave enough to sling a ladder from my window ledge to the top of the lamppost, climb across and slither down to safety. The answer was probably not.)

London changes all the time, much faster than most places. And we are time travelling all the time. We just don't notice it.

EDIT: the offspring and my friend Joo have now told me time travel is a feature of the latest Google Street View, unknown to me. I've upgraded and it's brilliant. Love it.


  1. I'm so excited. I love time travel stories!

    And finding time travel on Google is a bonus!

  2. I wonder if there are other tiny corners of Street View which have not updated to the most recent version? I shall be looking out for them from now on.

  3. It's like looking for Easter eggs!

  4. You made me find this:

    Hours of fun!

  5. I made you do it. Of course.

    And now you're making me waste hours of time looking through it.

  6. If you have the new version of google maps you can "time travel" most places. There's a box up the top left that you can "turn back time"

  7. Joo, thank you - spookily I have just come off the phone from the offspring who told me the same thing!

    (Unless of course I am the only sad person who didn't know this...)

  8. They refuse to drive past my house (well I am on the start of a private road :) )

    But since in work we are doing lots of work in London (Barnet area) Streetview rocks.

  9. Yes, it's SO useful when you are going somewhere new. I'd love to be immortalized on my bike in one of their images.

    In my WIP, Street View is real time.

  10. You taunt us with tantalising glimpses of your WIP!

    Will it be ready in time for Christmas?

  11. If only, FH.

    Though I'm toying with the idea of making the first bit a short story, which I'd make free as an intro to the series, I'd still need to get the first novel written before releasing it.

    Early days...

  12. It's a series? Wow!

    I hope you do make the first short story free. I've picked up some really good series where you get a fair chunk free to see if you like the author and their style - it's great for readers and it's great for authors to pick up new readers. It's win/win!

    (Or even if it's 77p, I'm usually willing to take a punt on a story that looks good at that price.)

  13. Agreed - making the first book free did Hugh Howey no harm at all. Though even a free story isn't totally free to the reader, as she will be expending her time reading it.

  14. Lexi, I'm not sure that Dr Who used google maps to navigate the space-time continuum, but I'm certainly looking forward to finding out how you create your own time travel portal! :)

  15. Q, I haven't been watching Doctor Who; suppose I came up with something that's already been done on the programme? I wonder if I should catch up on BBC iPlayer...

  16. Lexi, check

    Dr Who uses a fairly conventional approach with a space ship called the Tardis. The Tardis looks like an old fashioned telephone kiosk since the chameleon circuits froze, and has been patented by the BBC (I think).

    A TARDIS usually travels by de-materialising in one spot (converting to energy), traversing the time vortex (a worm hole in space-time), and then re-materialising at its destination, without physically travelling through the intervening space.

    So unless you have been dabbling in wormholes you should be fairly safe! LOL

  17. When I consider the science of time travel my brain makes its excuses and leaves.

    I had a quick look round inside the Tardis here, courtesy of brill Google Street View:,-0.1928879,3a,75y,298.6h,72.92t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sSvigC_RT6bkhjEt6yCCpNA!2e0!6m1!1e1

  18. Professor Brian Cox lectured on time travel a while ago. It was televised. Fascinating and made understandable for all.

    If I remember correctly he said that it was possible, just - or soon will be, to go forward in time but it will never be possible to go back.

  19. Except with the magic of fiction, Anna :o)

  20. Anne, the science of time travel uses Einstein's theory of General Relativity and the predicted distortions of space-time near massive bodies. Looking in detail requires Quantum theory to combine with Relativity, the so called Unified Field Theory that Einstein never managed to achieve. It is still an area of intensive research.

    The paradoxes of time travel for living creatures; eg going back in time and accidentally killing your mother, so that you could not have been born in the first place; makes me very sceptical as to whether it is possible, even in principle.

    However in fiction, as Lexi says, a little magic makes all the difference!

  21. I just came across a splendid little book by Paul Davies 'How to Build a Time Machine'.

    With little more than E=mc^2 and a few pictures, he explains Einstein's ideas and how they lead to wormholes.

    No maths needed .... I reckon its essential reading for any fiction writer engaged in wormhole engineering! :)

  22. Q, I have just invested £1.84 on your advice acquiring my own copy.

    (If Paul Davies knows how to build a time machine, I wonder if he has won the Lottery?)

  23. Lexi, Paul is a brilliant theoretician.But there is a huge difference between knowing how and actually doing. I wouldn't go near any wormholes that he made! LOL

    That's a small price for becoming a successful time traveller .... I hope you will share if you learn next week's lottery numbers!

  24. Hey, writing a novel is hard enough without being expected to invent a time machine on the side!

    In my WIP, the government has attempted to lock down time travel because of the inherent risks. All lottery winners are subjected to a very, very thorough investigation before getting their winnings :o)