Back at the bowling alley in search of answers, our hero confronts the old man. This chapter is exposition heavy on early time travel nuts and bolts, and one I struggled with most in rewrites. The idea was to set a foundation that would have some parts hold true and other parts be called out as false later on, but it kept spiraling out of control and confused a lot of early readers. In the end I chopped it up quite a bit, relegating two sections to deleted scenes and bumping one into a flashback on the plane.
- In the first draft I actually name dropped all of the actual members of the 900 club, but decided that “no names” meant no names except for Nelson and more mainstream celebrities. I was also worried it would date the story too much whenever another perfect trifecta occurs. But for the record, the members of the USBC certified 900 club are Jeremy Sonnenfeld (2/2/97), Tony Roventini (11/9/98), Vince Wood (9/29/99), Robby Portalatin (12/28/00), James Hylton (5/2/01), Jeff Campbell II (6/12/04), Darren Pomije (12/9/04), Lonnie Billiter Jr (2/13/06), Robert Mushtare (12/3/05 & 2/19/06), and Mark Wukoman (4/22/06).
- As Devon Kappa correctly guessed in the NoneMaySay review, the old man is an homage to Doc Brown of Back To The Future fame. A mix of brilliance and insanity, a hundred steps ahead of everyone and rarely slowing down for long enough to let them catch up. But unlike Doc Brown, he’s not particularly trustworthy even though he means well.
- The time traveling stool and beer from Chapter 2 pay off here. This is also the first hint that we’re technically picking up the story in medias res, otherwise there would be a causation paradox.
- The big “I’m you” reveal is a little bit cliché in the time travel world, but I decided the “only interact with yourself” twist was unique enough to allow it. Besides, it’s really the only way to set it up.
- “Sometimes theories are right, sometimes wrong” is a main theme of the book and the main takeaway from this chapter. It should be applied to anything the old man says about time travel, and anything he says at all for that matter.
- I intentionally tried to make sure that the narrator was just as confused as the reader, partly to pull the focus away from the physics and partly to build sympathy. If you still have trouble understanding the old man, his comment at the end of the chapter is as much to the reader as it is to himself: “Don’t dwell on it too much.”
- There are 14 intentional musical references in this chapter.