Thursday, September 26, 2013

Book idea: Found Object [working title]

This is an idea for a book (followed by blockbuster film) I don't have time to write. I guess I would describe it as a time travelling Indiana Jones meets Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure meets the Antiques Roadshow.

Ned Reilly, a lonely, single, middle-aged man, runs a flailing antiques shop (sort of like the one at the start of Gremlins, though I can't decide if the shop is in Gloucestershire or San Francisco). He loves his job and shop – he loves antiques, their history and beauty, but times are hard, and eBay has almost put him out of business.

However, one day he acquires a bizarre yet fascinating artifact which he can't make head or tail of. It has unintelligible writing on it. Ned becomes infatuated with the object and spends days examining it. He realises a part may be missing. He searches days for the missing part, and eventually finds one. It suddenly becomes apparent to Ned that he has a functioning time machine!

Ned can't believe it at first. He spends hours tinkering with it, even shuts his shop, then the day comes when he's ready to try it out. Hesitant at first, but with nothing to lose, he takes the plunge and travels back to ancient China – to pick up a Ming vase (cue culture clashes with his clothes, race, language etc). Eventually, after being chased through 14th century Beijing, he manages to get hold of a priceless vase – only to find it smashed to smithereens when he travels back. Still, he eventually gets the hang of things and so begins his travels through time and space to distant lands (from Roman times to the 1960s), picking up now-rare items for peanuts in their own time to stock up his antiques shop in the present day (which does present its problems: he buys a job lot of paintings off Van Gogh only to discover in the present day they're worth nothing at all as he's flooded the market). Anyway, soon enough word gets around and Ned's antiques shop becomes very popular and he's rolling in it... then certain people begin to get suspicious...

There's also a romantic subplot involving the girl that got away, where Reilly visits his younger self to try and convince him she was the one. His younger self doesn't listen at first ("Get lost, creepy old man" – hey, I never said dialogue was my strong point), but, yep, he does eventually, à la Good Will Hunting. Er, not sure yet how this affects the space-time continuum. But it does, in a good way. Let me put it this way: there's a happy ending.

I know its corny and full of plot holes  – but hey, most blockbusters are.

Low budget gems Primer (2004) and the Spanish Timecrimes (2007) show how time travel films don't need special effects (there are absolutely none in either – but loads in mine). And going back or forewords in time just a couple of hours in the same place can disrupt the space-time continuum as much as going back hundreds of years to distant lands, maybe even more so. I like it when films make my brain ache.

Previous abandoned novels:
Life of a New Orleans waitress
The Tournament


Caspar said...

It's a nailed-on certainly that sooner or later someone will nick this idea. Whether or not it makes tons of cash is down to how they do it, but you'll always be able to prove it was your idea.
For some reason I see Jack Black in the lead role. And while I'm playing Fantasy Casting Agent, let's have Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory as the love interest. Hubba hubba! Hmmm – I may already have completely ruined your idea, beating Hollywood to the mark.

Barnaby said...

Thanks Casper. Was thinking of more heavyweight actors, and older perhaps, like Jon Voight, but Jack Black is an interesting choice. He starred in Gulliver's Travels after all, travelling to the land of Lilliput… Never heard of Kaley Cuoco, but sure, she looks pretty enough.

I think it would be a good as a film, probably better than a book. We all think we would do noble deeds if we could time travel – kill Hitler as a baby, for example – but I think most of us would actually do quite selfish things, regardless of the consequences.
Hmm, just seen there's no copyright for an idea, or bare bones of a plot. Good luck to whoever nicks the idea, though I may get around to writing it.