Writer's Commentary

25 August 1971

I knew old James Stevens would use the Time Ring to go back into his own past, intent on preventing the murder of Dodo. But I still had to determine the consequences of that if he succeeded. [He was always going to succeed.] Would old Stevens murder Cleary? Would Cleary kill himself, or would old Stevens simply grab Cleary and use the Time Ring he remove him from the scene of the crime?

I also had another decision to make: how to tell the story of what happened. As a novel, WKK deploys two first person narrative positions. Stevens' story supplies most of the text, while the letters home from Cleary complete the text. I had no wish to abandon that for the new material, but whomever concluded the story needed to be alive to write it.

I planned to have old Stevens sacrifice himself saving Dodo, taking Cleary with him. That meant young Stevens had to complete the story, bring it full circle. Old Stevens took his WKK manuscript back to 1971, so young Stevens could find out what had happened. I think the results work - but it'll be up to readers to decide if I've pulled that off!

Having eliminated Old Stevens and Cleary, I was conscious of the fact that questions still remained - but how to resolve them? Re-reading WKK had reminded me of the fun I'd had writing for pipe-smoking Professor Liz Shaw. I decided she would be the perfect woman to make sense of the new history created by the intervention of Old Stevens.

That did leave one question unresolved: what about the Master's plan to change the assassination of JFK, altering Earth's history? I couldn't conceive of an elegant way to achieve that within the scope of the first person narrative. With Cleary killed before he could go back to 1963, the Master lost his puppet. Perhaps he could another assassin, but it didn't matter for Stevens or Dodo anymore.

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