What is time? If you’re writing SF/F, steampunk, or any other fictionally odd genre, it’s a question you may find yourself wondering. How would time differ from one place to another? How do we measure time? What would cause a shift in time?
Some writers choose to think far outside the box, using different “turns” of planets, and other methods to distinguish what parts make up an hour/parsec/etc. For the mathematically inclined, the study of the measure of time can be endlessly fascinating–and even from a linguistic perspective it’s a whole ton of fun. Our own world has plenty of wonderful history on the subject!
Initially in The Aldersgate, I didn’t consider time to be much different than our own. Earena is very like earth in size and shape, and distance from the sun (the year is a little longer, but not by much). So in the first draft, everything in minutes, seconds, hours, that’s sort of thing. As the steampunk aesthetic started to make itself more apparent, as well as the reigning Queen’s obsession with machinery, I thought I’d use a “tick” as a minute and a “turn” as an hour–like in a clock. The second hands, technically, tick as well, but so do the hour hands in older technologies. I like it anyway!
One of my pet peeves in fantasy literature in particular has to do with the language of the year. How many books have you picked up that say, “he was eight summers old at the time,” or, “she had already lived eighty winters.” Yes, seasons are important and, yes, it works as a method of time. But it’s hackneyed, folks.
I honestly haven’t used a substitute for the year yet, because I need to do more research into the effects of two moons on a planet like ours. I imagine messing with tides, and phases would change the way that people perceive of time a bit. I do know that when the moons are both at their fullest, it’s Spring–hence the whole Blooming Day theme in the first few chapters. Moons, of course, have all sorts of wonderful mythological connections to women, so there’s that too. I just need to pick an astrophysicist’s brain for a while, and then I can come up with some concrete answers.
At any rate, whatever choose to do with time, make sure it’s consistent throughout, and make it your own. Time is a fascinating subject–real and imagined–and is often a small detail that, when done right, can really help transport your readers into another world.