Can TIME be the antagonist?

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Mike Dickson
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Can TIME be the antagonist?

Post by Mike Dickson » September 13th, 2010, 6:42 pm

I have an idea where time is the enemy. It's basically a race against time. Does that work?

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Re: Can TIME be the antagonist?

Post by stephmcgee » September 13th, 2010, 6:50 pm

I think the only way to find out is to write it. Or at least start it. If you start writing and find that something isn't jiving, or that there's not enough to keep the forward momentum of the plot, then maybe it'll need some re-evaluation. Good luck!

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Re: Can TIME be the antagonist?

Post by JadePhoenix » September 13th, 2010, 9:11 pm

Isn't time regularly used as an antagonist? "You have 24 hours to come up with the ransom," "The bomb will go off in exactly six hours," "You have six months to live," etc. Do you mean you want Time as the ONLY antagonist? I suppose that could work if you personified TIme or maybe did the whole Final Destination thing where Death was basically personified as an evil, intelligent entity but you never actually see it, just its effects.

Anyway, you could do it! :)
Last edited by JadePhoenix on September 13th, 2010, 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can TIME be the antagonist?

Post by Quill » September 13th, 2010, 10:15 pm

Agree. In order for time to actually act against the protagonist it would have to be personified. Wouldn't it?

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Re: Can TIME be the antagonist?

Post by polymath » September 14th, 2010, 12:24 am

Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife has time as an antagonizing force. I suppose time travel therein might be considered somewhat like the distance and time apart that strains a relationship, like for unaccompanied military tours of duty.

H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, time travel is portrayed as a contributing antagonizing force central to the novel's main theme. A brilliant inspiration nonetheless. Wells set his sights futureward the way history study examines the knowable past from hindsight.

Isaac Asimov's Foundation, the march of time is instrumental to Psychohistory, an actual scientific theory making the rounds at the time Asimov began the saga.

Niffenegger, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Wells, those who don't know history are destined to repeat it. Asimov, psychohistory, the future is predictable from studying past trends and extending them futureward. Not too terribly different than Wells, but imaginatively reinvented in a decidedly original light.

In each of the above I see time's causal influence as central to the narratives. Their usage of time as a force to be reckoned with or reconciled to transcends time as mere timekeeping to a countdown, though Foundation does correspond to a timeline with a countdown.

I'd say if time is to be The Antagonist of a narrative's protagonist, not mere opponent or villain or nemesis, it ought to as the above do compel change based on some metaphoric representation of the human condition, which is what a true antagonist does for a narrative, compel change. True antagonists and protagonists transform each other. Antagonism, though, is not solely opposition, it's also motivation; in other words, antagonism is both purpose and complication.
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Re: Can TIME be the antagonist?

Post by steve » September 14th, 2010, 12:44 am

You should check out John Crowley's GREAT WORK OF TIME.

It avoids the hackneyed trappings of most time-dependent stories.
Read one of the best stories by Borges.

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