In all my talking about Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector, I haven’t really talked about on how much I have always wanted to play around with linearity. I do love messing around with linearity, but I have issues with time travel narratives because then you have to deal with time travel rules. If you affect something from the past, does that split off the timeline? Does it change the existing? Does knowing at all pop you into a new one?
I liked the idea behind things like Momento or Sandman,1 where the story was set but the order the story was told in wasn’t strictly linear. Instead, you got to use the cues in the stories to try and figure out where in the timeline of the overall narrative everything took place.
While I wanted to, when I tried messing around with the order of the books, they ended up being a mess. There are bits of not so linear storytelling in the order of the stories in each of the books, but within the books they are largely in order. The books themselves, however, overlap in terms of linearity.
Not that it’s impossible to tell what happens when. There are little nods to previous stories that would be lost if you read them out of order2 as well as much more clear references3 that are intended to help tell which one happens when. You can reasonably tell when one story comes after another one if you really try to, though a few will be left in question.
It’s a bit like I mentioned before with everyone coming back from a trip with different stories. You can piece together how everything fits together, even though conflicting stories. Like that example, though, there are always a few stories that you just can’t place on your own.
Or you can cheat and check the timeline I made while I was writing. That is also an option.