Issue 036 is alive and well and full of 13 speculative fiction short stories by women authors. As if that’s not enough, today we have the privilege of picking the brain of one of our authors — Cathrin Hagey (she’s also one of our bloggers, so we hug her close). Read below for what she has to say about her story “Chrone, Cronos.”
LSQ: Oh, time travel paradoxes — gotta love them! When you started this story, did you know how you were going to get around this issue or did the solution slowly unfold as you were writing? Also, and perhaps this demonstrates my ignorance of time travel lore, I’ve only ever heard of the “grandfather paradox” so I was struck by the appearance of the “mother paradox” in your story. Can you comment on this?
Cathrin: The mother paradox is the exact same concept as the grandfather paradox. The former poses the question: What happens if you travel to the past and murder your own mother before you were born? The grandfather paradox asks: What happens if you visit the past and murder your own grandfather before your mother could be born? They both highlight the same causal conundrum.
I have a special edition of Scientific American, published in June, 2006, called “A Matter of Time.” I’m sure it’s not up-to-date with the latest in theoretical physics but it has some fascinating articles that I like to reread now and again. In the article about time travel, the mother paradox is discussed in a way that really illuminates its complexity. To quote: “Paradoxes of this kind arise when the time traveler tries to change the past, which is obviously impossible [Is it?]. But that does not prevent someone from being a part of the past. Suppose the time traveler goes back and rescues a young girl from murder, and this girl grows up to become [her] mother. The causal loop is now self-consistent and no longer paradoxical.”
LSQ: Do you have a favorite time travel story? Did any in the genre inspire parts of yours?
Cathrin: I’ve always been more interested in magical travel stories than in time travel ones. Passing through a wardrobe into Narnia, or touching a port key and suddenly being miles away from where I started, is what thrills me. But time as a concept is something I think about a lot. I took a course in Einstein’s special theory of relativity while in university and particularly enjoyed the “twin paradox,” a thought experiment in which two people move differently and so have completely different experiences of time. One twin stays behind on Earth while the other travels through space at near light speed. When the traveling twin returns to Earth, she will have experienced the passage of, say, one year, while the twin who stayed home will have aged ten years, for instance. This is certainly a kind of time travel.
LSQ: Yay for women and math! How often have you come across a fictional female character who excels in this subject? Thoughts on this?
Cathrin: I can’t think of a female character in fiction who excels in math. (I would love to hear from someone who can.) However, I hold an undergraduate degree in mathematics from McMaster University and graduated summa cum laude despite not having been the “best” at math in elementary or high school (and having been a dropout at sixteen). In my opinion, the patriarchy is one colossal barrier to women excelling in math, but so is our success-driven society. To excel at math, you can’t be afraid of failure. Problem solving takes patience, self-compassion, self-belief. Many women don’t have safe zones (of time and space) in which to make mistakes and try again. When I was studying mathematics, I was already at rock bottom in many respects. I had nowhere to go but up.
LSQ: Your description of the clock on the wall is lovely and almost a bit mystical. What inspired this imagery?
Cathrin: I have always been obsessed with clocks (and telephones), though I don’t know why. The clock in this story, however, is pure fantasy and came to me through feelings rather than thoughts.
LSQ: Do you have any future plans for Lili and Angie? I am dying to know more about the Goulding-Perez hypothesis. Do you think we’ll meet this duo in another story sometime?
Cathrin: That’s funny. I, too, would like to know more about the Goulding-Perez hypothesis. I haven’t thought about a sequel for Angie and Lili. Thanks for the idea 🙂
LSQ: Are you working on any other projects at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
Cathrin: I am coming to the end of my book-length memoir covering birth to age eighteen when I left my abusive home. It’s a hybrid consisting of essays depicting my story, some of my mother’s (who was also abused), and some from the fairy tale “The Handless Maiden.” I have aimed for truth framed by grace and compassion. Time will tell if I’ve hit the target.