The Real Land Before Time

I’d be infringing on an epic series if I began each book with the following phrase: A Long Time Ago, but in fact, Once occurred a long time ago. Instead of being located in a galaxy far, far away, Once is set on, well, Earth. A more appropriate term would go like this: A Long Time Ago, on the Planet We Inhabit Today. This is why I named the world Gaia.

I’ve long had an infatuation with the Theia collision into Earth, which is said to have occurred around three and a half-billion years ago, if not longer. For those unfamiliar with the hypothesis, an ancient planet named Theia collided with Earth, either with a glancing blow, or in today’s recent findings, a direct hit. Unfortunately, no one will ever know for sure whether this tenth planet existed back in the days of head-on, planetary collisions, among other objects, but it’s a fun theory.

Many scientists today say our Moon is a small remnant of the Mars-sized, Earth-like planet. When Theia collided with Gaia, Theia, being a much smaller object, broke into pieces as a result of the impact, sending debris into space. Over time, the debris collected and formed the Moon, which now encircles the Earth.

How did Theia run into the Earth, since we’re one of eight planets who’ve left each other alone for billions of years, in addition to another eight dwarf planets, all discovered within the last two decades, with Pluto leading the charge? In fact, with Pluto’s orbit, which takes two-hundred and forty-eight Earth years, it actually comes closer to the sun than Neptune for a brief period, which in Pluton years, takes a couple decades. One would think Neptune and Pluto to be on a collision course. Was this the same case with Theia? Modern theory rejects Theia had a strange orbit, which crisscrossed with Earth, causing the collision. Many say Theia was the third closest planet to the sun, while Earth was the fourth, but Venus may have been the culprit to knock the small planet out of orbit, sending it crashing into the Earth.

This brings me to Gaia, and the timeline, as the events of Once are set long before our time. In fact, in my own, twisted mind, in my work, humans existed long before today’s prevailing theory of appearing as ape-like creatures about one-million years ago. Again, no one will neither figure out this great mystery nor will they have the ability to prove it, as I’ve said time and again we weren’t physically there to see it. It would’ve been quite the show if such a collision did happen, literally knocking human-kind back to pre-evolutionary status.

Why did I choose the timeline to begin long ago, rather than in the future? My genre of Once is what I call a dystopian-fantasy, where people are living under the constraints of a corrupt government. I also initially set Gaia in a different universe, but after continual writing, I found Gaia was too Earth-like, and I’ve always been a fan of the Gaia-Theia Collision Theory, because I would find it fascinating if there really was a second planet in our solar system with an Earth-like atmosphere. For instance, was there life on Theia? Were there oceans? If the moon really is what’s left of this ancient planet, can we go back there and get closer to the truth? Well, was there intelligent life on Earth before this massive collision? I mean, Theia was said to have been the size of Mars, meaning a collision between Gaia and Theia would’ve been so catastrophic, no nuclear weapon in existence today could’ve caused such incredible damage.

Of course, the prevailing theory is intelligent life didn’t exist at the time, but how would we know? Did it exist? Was it wiped out by the collision? Was intelligent life on Theia knocked out by the collision? What if, at the time, intelligent life had so much technology, there was inter-planetary communication between the Gaians and Theians. Or better yet, what if Mars was on board? There’s evidence of dried up rivers and oceans on Mars, as well as ice-caps, and where there’s ice, there’s water. Did inter-planetary communication exist? Not in Once, because it’s not science fiction, but it would be cool to find out.

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