Time travel application

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Imagine there are very few time machines in the world. Perhaps only one, and no more than a handful. The owner might be a government, eccentric trillionaire, research institution, but in any case someone with big resources.

To use the machine, you have to write an application, just as in the real world you have to apply to use large telescopes, etc (but in 1024 characters, which is an astronomer’s fantasy). In the application you have to persuade the owner that you need to borrow the time machine and are going to do something worthwhile with it. What that means, exactly, is up to you.

Your challenge is to write the application. Or, if you prefer, the scene where the application is being written. Remember, your character will want to be persuasive.

You don’t have to mention this, but obviously the owner would have some way to prevent the machine from being stolen, e.g. perhaps it is programmed to return to base after a certain period. So you might want to say how long you need it for.

  • Started June 29th, 2013.
  • Ended July 14th, 2013.
  • Created by Zerrakhi

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The winner of this challenge is:

Dear John

Author: ipe


  1. Avatar ipe

    Hey, thanks! I finally came back after some vacation and find this. It was a fun one…now, must find another challenge to enter…

  2. Avatar BiC

    Congrats, ipe! Lots of good stuff here, but I as well liked yours best.

  3. Avatar Zerrakhi


    So, that takes us to my next favourite, “Dear John”, by ipe. It’s a nice bit of drama, exploring the ever-present tension between destroying the universe versus satisfying protocol, and the need, in the face of this tension, to occasionally seek compromise.

    My main criticism is that the real-life individual ipe cast in the starring role is not really suited to it. Putting obscure but googleable people in stories CAN work well (I praised this in Enoxice’s entry), but before publishing I’d advocate taking a moment to imagine giving them a copy to read.

    However, all that is superficial, in that you could substitute another name and another company and not change the essence of the story.

    So, all things considered, I’m calling ipe the winner here.

    Please see my previous comment for honourable mentions.

  4. Avatar Zerrakhi

    Hmm, I was going to judge this thing, wasn’t I?

    I think the best story overall is “Just a Second” by BiC. But it didn’t really stick to the challenge requirements, and awarding it a win would be unfair on those that did. So, herewith an HONOURABLE MENTION to Bic.

    (In hindsight, the requirements were a tad on the strict side, which is my fault. But hey, the whole challenge was borne out of whimsy.)

    The prize for “Best Use Of A Time Machine” goes to “Why Would I Want To Do That?” by kyle90. It may be whimsical, but at least it involves CHANGING THE WORLD in some way, whereas most people just wanted to solve some personal problem, like being stranded in the wrong century. But kyle90’s story, while promising, reads like a first draft. A prize-winning story should be a bit more polished.

    (I loved BARomero’s “Time Travel App”, and it deserves A prize, but not THIS prize. The prize it deserves is for someone to write a sequel. It is BEGGING for sequel.)


  5. Avatar Zerrakhi

    I’ll judge it based on a combination of how closely you stick to the requirements AND how much I like the story.

    Maybe the requirements were too specific, but on the other hand, they’re called CHALLENGES. So they’re supposed to be challenging.

  6. Avatar BARomero

    I realize my story isn’t really what you had in mind for the challenge, but it’s what came to mind when I looked at the challenge’s title…

  7. Avatar Zerrakhi

    Thanks. As ever, it came out of a Skype chat with Elsha. I described three possible challenge ideas and she told me which one she liked best. This was it.

  8. Avatar BiC

    ‘How long you need it for’?
    Heck, I’ll bring it back “before” I borrow it! :)
    Let the paradoxes roll! – I’m thinking of half-a-dozen things we could write about here. I can’t wait to read what will be written! (Maybe I can borrow the time machine to go to the future and find out? :) – Great challenge, Z.

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  • ElshaHawk (LoA)
  • BARomero
  • Zerrakhi
  • Enoxice
  • HSAR
  • kyle90
  • ipe
  • BiC