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The Phoenix Gate

Gargoyles FAQ

XX. Gargoyles Universe Cosmology

1. What are the origins of the sentient races of Earth?

They all were created by the divine, the process of evolution, or both, depending on your point of view.

The Lost Race came first. They have since disappeared.

The gargoyles came second, and are considered the First Race. They didn't use magic. Going by evolution, the gargoyles descended from a species that is often classified along with dinosaurs, without necessarily being dinosaurs.

The humans came third, and are considered the Second Race. They did use magic.

The Children (of Mab, of Oberon) came fourth, and are considered the Third Race. They were created from magic.

2. Where exactly do the New Olympians fit into the three races of Earth?

They're a hybrid race descended from both Oberon's Children and humans.

3. I don't understand how time travel works in the Gargoyles universe. Can Greg explain it to me?

Sure. In his own words:

There's been a little debate in the comment room, regarding the Archmage time travel loop, time travel in general, and the subject of free will in the Gargoyles universe. I posted my two cents, but thought I should include it here too, in case anyone missed it:

Oh, I'm probably going to regret this, but...

Gary, Gary, Gary> Yep. There is a loop. And you're comparison to the classic "Kill your own grandfather" chestnut doesn't parallel.

I could show you this pretty easy on a diagram, but it's a little more complicated in type. But let me give it a shot.

The grandfather thing is a "non-working" paradox. The timestream short circuits. [No cheating, now. No "Well, it turns out the man I always thought of as my grandfather wasn't really my biological grandfather" and no "He had sex with my grandmother just before I killed him." None of that.] I go back in time to kill my grandfather. He dies. My father's never born. I'm never born, therefore I don't exist to go back in time to kill my grandfather. Since I don't exist, my grandfather never dies. So my father is born, and, subsequently, so am I, allowing me to go back in time to kill my grandfather. And so on, and so on, and so on... It iterates without fusing. Again, short circuit.

Compare another chestnut that I made up a few years ago. I am a historian. My specialty is Abraham Lincoln. I travel back in time and meet him just before he's scheduled to give the Gettysburgh Address. To my horror, I discover that he's got writer's block. The most famous speech a president ever gave, and Abe can't think of what to write. I panic. And "write" the speech for him. Of course I didn't compose it. I simply write down the Gettysburgh Address from memory. Abe loves it. Gives the speech. Reporters transcribe it. Historians put it in history books. I study it and go back in time. Time flows unbroken. It is a "working" paradox. A paradox that doesn't short circuit the time stream. Now it raises a HUGE question? Who composed the Address? Not Abe, he got it from me. Not me, I got if from a history book. Not the historians or the reporters, they got it from Abe. The answer is it was born with the timestream, created by God or the Big Bang or whatever. It is mysterious. But it works.

The best example of a working paradox story I've ever read is Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies". It's a brilliant, subversive little piece of work.

The Archmage (and/or the M.I.A.) loop has much more in common with the Gettysburgh chestnut than the Grandfather chestnut. It is a working paradox. Simpler even than Gettysburgh. You are the Archmage. Once upon a time, you were a kid. Then you grew up to be a man, and you wind up falling into a chasm. You're rescued by a "STRANGER" who looks something like you, but not quite. The "Stranger" mentors you and gives you power and actually changes you so that you look more like the stranger than like your old self. Then the "stranger" sends you back in time to that point where you rescue your old self. Now to that old immature version of you, you seem like "the stranger". You mentor the old you, you give him power. Then you send him back to effect the rescue. It's a loop, because you don't go back again. You continue forward until Goliath does you in. There's a beginning and an end and a loop in the middle. It IS a paradox. But it's a working paradox. There's no short circuit. Time flows. THERE IS A BIG QUESTION! Where did the Archmage get the idea to save himself. Well, he knows to do it because his old self was a "witness" to the rescue. His old self was the rescuee. But where did the IDEA come from? Again, a quirk of the timestream.

Many people have asked me why I made this the time travel rule in Gargoyles. It's a very conservative approach. You can't change history. Period. Sure we may not know the whole story. But what happened, happened. We can't change it. That's the rule as I established it in "Vows," and as we stuck with throughout the series. Why? Time travel is all theoretical. I could have chosen any rule I wanted. I could have chosen no rules. Why did I chose this rigid approach? Basically, cuz I thought it was MORE fun. I hate feeling cheated at the end of stories. Time travel stories are easily subject to this abuse. So many great Star Trek episodes full of time travel, wind up wimping out in the end. Cheating. Using non-working paradoxes or breaking any semblence of rules they've already established. I always felt ripped off. I didn't want that for Gargoyles. Also it presents our characters with a greater challenge. Griff vanished in WWII. Goliath goes back in time to change it. AND HE CAN'T!!!!!! So he has to find another way to solve the problem. It also explains why our guys just don't go back and fix things so that the Wyvern Massacre never happened. Once you open a a can of worms, you're stuck with a lot of worms (or worse, you pretend they aren't there). That seemed lousy to me, so I made it clear that once an event is absolutely known, you can't dodge it. Only work within it's frame. It's all a matter of opinion, but that seemed like MORE fun to me.

And now...DAH DAH DAH. Predestination vs. Free will. This is an ancient argument. God is omniscient. He knows what Eve is going to do. So she had no free will, right? Well, most theologians would say she does. Eve is created with free will by God. She doesn't have to take that apple. Cain doesn't have to kill Abel. Sure, God knows that Eve is gonna take it, that Cain is going to kill, but he doesn't impose that knowledge or his authority on either Eve or Cain. (He's God. He can make those subtle distinctions in his creations.) The fact that Mom tells you not to eat the cookies and nevertheless knows you're going to, doesn't mean that you have no free will. You could surprise Mom and skip 'em. Now you can't surprise God. He's God. So he knows ahead of time what you're going to do. But it's still your choice. Nothing touched your free will.

Now, I'll admit, that at times in Gargoyles, that distinction seems less clear. I'm the main (though not the only) god of the GargoylesUniverse. (At least I used to be.) But, obviously, I'm not GOD, and I don't have his subtle powers of creation. But I tried. I suppose it's tough to figure how the Archmage could choose not to save himself. But I think the key is that he wouldn't want to choose anything other than what he did. So his free will isn't touched. Griff chooses to fight in the Battle of Britain. He chooses to risk his life. He doesn't know about Phoenix Gates or time travel. But he knows the risks of war. He doesn't make it home for forty years. Maybe that's a consequence he couldn't predict, but it's better than dieing. His free will isn't missing from the equation just because the time stream (or God or whatever you believe in) knows that he's not coming back even before he departs. In GONE WITH THE WIND, Rhett Butler doesn't join the Confederate Army until he knows the Confederacy is doomed. HE KNOWS. But that doesn't effect his free will. We all make decisions. Maybe someone out there knows the results. God. Or a psychic palm reader living in Petaluma. Or your Uncle Ralph, who did the exact same thing when he was your age. But the fact that someone else know, whether we know they know or not, does not effect our free will.

Anyway, that's my two cents. (GDW/1-26-98)

Hey, Gary (and everyone)... You asked me further questions about time. The answers all come down to Point of View. You didn't comment on the "religious" aspects of my comments, but frankly, they seem unavoidable.

PoV. To Goliath, in the 1990s, the past seems fixed. The present and future, not. To Goliath in 1940, the past and present seem fixed, and the future seems fixed for a few decades, and then past the mid-nineties, not. To Greg Weisman, in his capacity as god of the Gargoyle Universe, the past, present and future seem fixed.

But what does this mean? It means we are bound by what we know and nothing more. What does "fixed" mean? Goliath realizes that Griff can't return to his clan in the forties, because he didn't return in the forties. But that doesn't mean Goliath cannot affect their mutual futures, by bopping Griff forward to the nineties.

Greg Weisman knows that something big happens in the year 2158. But he doesn't yet know all the results of that. For that matter, Greg has a lot of knowledge about what happened in 984. But what exactly happened between 984 and 994? I've got a basic idea, but there's room for movement. There are facts I can't dodge, therefore facts that my characters can't dodge. But that doesn't remove their free will.

Pre-destination does not NEGATE free will, unless the character abdicates free will in the mistaken belief that he or she has none. And even then, the "act" of abdication is a choice, an act of free will.

One other note: the Gettysburgh Address in my previous example could be called a "time circle". Unbroken. No beginning or end. The Archmage is not a circle, but a loop in a straight line. Think of a roller coaster. It goes along straight for 100 yards. Then it begins a loop-de-loop. We travel up and backwards and around and then the track flattens out again at the eighty yard mark. For twenty yards the tracks run side by side, or put another way, since the track is unbroken, lengths of the ONE track run side by side. Then one length, "the younger length," heads back into the loop, while the other "mature" length continues forward on the straight flat track.

Hope this helps. (GDW/1-27-98)

4. Do alternate timelines/realities exist in the Gargoyles Universe?

Greg's answer:

Multiverses are so much fun, but like unrestricted time-travel they are subject to massive abuse.

The short answer is, I haven't decided definitively, but I'm leaning toward a "NO".

I'd never want to, for example, cheapen the Magus' death by introducing the Magus from another dimension. And isn't our Demona quite enough fun, so that we have no need to meet the so-called Good Demona from a parallel world.

Of course, I suppose it could help explain GOLIATH CHRONICLES. Hmmmm....

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