Wendy Nikel is joining us today to talk about the final novella in this series, The Causality Loop. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Dodge Greenley is tired of being the go-between for his time-traveling family. All he wants is for them all to be able to live together peacefully in one era—is that too much to ask? But after breaking all the Rules of time travel in a desperate attempt to retroactively free his parents from the threat of the secret organization his father worked for a hundred years earlier, Dodge makes a startling discovery. It turns out there’s someone else stalking his family up and down the timeline, and this time, the menace may be coming from within the Place in Time Travel Agency itself.
Enlisting the help of his 22nd century coworker, Dodge sets off to the year 1915 to rescue his sister from a threat that might have originated at any point in their past, present, or future, proving once again that the greatest threat to time travelers is other time travelers.
What’s Wendy’s favorite bit?
THE CAUSALITY LOOP is the fourth book in the Place in Time novella series, which wraps up the stories in the three previous books about a multi-generational family that gets tangled up with a travel agency specializing in trips through time. The protagonist, Dodge Greenley, was initially introduced as a young boy, and now, we get to see the man he becomes and how the events of THE CONTINUUM changed him, which was an exciting challenge.
But a lot has changed since the first book (which is bound to happen when you travel a hundred years into the future). For one thing, the employees that were at the Place in Time Travel Agency (PITTA) in THE CONTINUUM are long gone, and the office is now populated with completely new Jump Specialists, Retrievers, Researchers, Technicians, and a new boss. One of these new characters – a receptionist in her late twenties, named Nell – surprised me by becoming my favorite bit of this story.
Whereas our main character, Dodge, has grown up with time travel being a “normal” part of his family’s life and heritage, one reason Nell was so fun to write was because for her, it’s still a completely new experience. She’s worked for PITTA for longer than Dodge, but keeping track of the administrative side of a time travel agency is… well… not as exciting as you’d think. For years, she’s been hearing about other people’s adventures, scheduling their jumps, and watching amazing things happen all around her, without an opportunity to experience any of it for herself. But she’s smart and observant and isn’t afraid to say what she thinks – even when it gets her into sticky situations. So when Dodge approaches her to ask for her help with a task that he doesn’t want their boss to find out about, Nell knows just what to demand in return: her own chance to travel into the past.
She embarks on this adventure with great enthusiasm, her anachronistically dyed hair tucked hastily under her hat. But Nell lacks the training, the knowledge, or the caution that most of PITTA’s professional time travelers usually have, which makes her an interesting foil for Dodge and presents him with a unique outsider perspective as he attempts to untangle his family’s messed-up chronology. In return, he finds in her an unlikely ally and friend – something we all can appreciate, no matter the time or place.
Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Analog, Nature: Futures, Podcastle, and elsewhere. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. For more info, visit wendynikel.com