The Christmas Tree Effect: A Guest Post by Robert Franks

This is the third of my guests, Robert Franks. He’s an author, an artist, and an all-around charmer. Sit back and let him take you on a ride through:

The Worlds of The Glass Apple

(The Christmas Tree Effect)

 Robert Franks

 So M.A. Ray has issued me with the challenge of writing about the worlds of The Glass Apple, and why I like them so much, giving me only 1000 words to work with.

Challenge accepted!

We’ll start with Ethelbert Gobswistle (main protagonist, eccentric wizard, completely dotty, occasionally sharper than the Reaper’s Scythe), and his attempt to describe the multiverse. What he calls The Christmas Tree effect.

Think of the star on top of the Christmas tree. This represents us, in real time, as we are now. All our history lies behind us, untouchable and inalterable. On the first branches below it are three baubles. These represent parallel worlds, almost exactly the same as ours, but lagging behind our time by a few seconds.

On the next set of branches are 9 baubles, at slightly different heights on the branches, yet more parallel worlds, all gradating further back in time.

On the branches below are 81 baubles, this time covering the time periods a couple of centuries ago, the worlds of Queen Victoria, of Charles Dickens, and worlds with a more noticeable twist to them. You have the worlds of Steampunk, or where wars had different victors or were never fought at all.

And so it continues, all down the Christmas tree, expanding exponentially, some worlds mirroring perfectly our own world’s histories, some so different as to be whole new worlds.

Then there are the people of these worlds. We’ll take, as an example, Jason Crowanhawk, the young hero of the story, and Gobswistle’s grandson. In all the worlds of a similar history he will/does or has exist(ed). As with all living creatures (and some inert creatures), he has a soul, a spiritual projection of everything he can be and will be, existing in the ether of existence, but somehow also within him. This soul is connected to all Jasons, throughout all realities, like a giant octopus with an infinite number of limbs, each touching just one Jason throughout all the timelines.

Jason, of course, is unaware of this.

He’s far too busy (at the moment at least) being enamoured of Cholena, the beautiful daughter of the Indian chief of Chochmo, in ancient America.

Oh, yes, Jason’s time-travelled. Didn’t I mention?

But, as was pointed out earlier, history that has already happened is untouchable and inalterable. So just how the heck has Jason time travelled?

I’ll tell you.

Through the Gateway.

Now stop your groaning, yes I know, I know it’s an old fantasy and sci-fi trope. The most memorably recent of which is in the movie and following TV series Stargate. But it is also a feature of myths and legends across the world. And anyone who reads my books knows I love to include obvious and obscure Easter Eggs of mythology.


The Gateway.

In the world of The Glass Apple, it is of Celtic/Gaelic origin, an intricately carved archway of Celtic scrollwork, with a stone seat either side. It is sentient – indeed, two spirits (or powries) inhabit it, both being the spirits of beings who have willingly sacrificed themselves to both protect and open the Gateway. The Gateway appears when needed, sometimes through summoning, and sometimes because it just knows, and allows passage to those requiring it. But the past it takes the traveller to, rather than being their own past, is in reality a parallel world that is identical to their own, but still existing in the time period they wish to travel to.

A sort of loop hole in the paradox of time travel.

So is this how Jason time-travelled?

Well …

Yes and no.

He has travelled through the Gateway, but this is not how he is currently a 21 year old man in the body of a 14 year old boy.

There is a second way.

A soul transfer.

In a world similar to his own, his counterpart was fatally injured in a car crash. But at the moment of death, when the soul removed it’s cord from his counterpart’s body, an eldritch being “pushed” Jason’s own cord from his body, up into his soul and back down into his counterpart’s body.

Years passed as he was trapped in this parallel world, yet when he escaped and returned back to his own body, hardly a day had passed. In the Celtic and Nordic tales of the little folk, time passes differently in their world. Something similar happened here!

Why do I like these worlds so much? Hmm. Difficult. I think my best answer would be: I used to get frustrated with these tales of time-travel where people make changes, Two Pines go to Lone Pine (Easter egg) and it all gets just so convoluted.

In the world of the Glass Apple, history is history. It cannot be changed.

But the future of another world can be.

And this is vital to the Glass Apple series.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, and I’ll see you at the Gateway!

About the Author

Robert Franks was born in Norfolk, England. His father was a dairy farmer, his mother a nurse and his sister a frequent sparring partner. Brought up in the middle of the Norfolk countryside, he grew up with JRR Tolkein, Anne Macaffrey and Alan Dean Foster for company. Oh, and 12 dachshunds, a welsh collie, two pekinese, a great dane, two bassett hounds, innumerable farm cats, a rabbit hutch of both rabbits and guineapigs,a golden pheasant, some chickens and a rather cantankerous old goose.
He wrote from an early age, completing his first full length novel at the age of 15. It was never published, but certain characters never went away, and have resurfaced in his most recent books, The Glass Apple Series.
He worked as a shop manager for many years, and his writing was put, for the main part, to one side.
The first three chapters of The Glass Apple were finished way back in 1997, but again work took priority. In the winter of 2009, he was made redundant when his shop was closed. Since then he has returned to his first love, writing.
The first four books of the Glass Apple series (The Glass Apple; Spider’s Web; Song of the Shaman; Legacy of the Abandoned One) are available in both paperback and kindle. The 5th book, Child of Mount Pelion, is scheduled for release 2016.
A spin off series of 4 steampunk themed books, under the collective name of The Eldritch Shards, is also planned. Aimed at a mature audience, the first book, Harlequin Glass, follows Marie, Etain’s grand-daughter, and her life in an alternate world version of New Orleans.


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