Friday, 20 July 2012

There Will be Time II

HG Wells' "outer narrator," who seems to be identical with Wells, describes the Time Traveler's dinner parties whereas the Time Traveler himself describes his "time traveling," thus leaving open the possibility that the time travel is a fiction within the fiction - although the outer narrator does see the Time Traveler departing at the end.

In There Will Be Time (New York, 1973), Poul Anderson constructs a more elaborate narrative framework. Not Anderson himself but a relative, Dr Robert Anderson, meets the time traveler, Jack Havig, and we are told that one of Havig's fellow (time) travelers gave the time travel idea to

"...a young Englishman in the '90's, starting out as an author, a gifted fellow even if he was kind of a socialist." (p. 73)

Thus, three works of fiction, Anderson's Maurai series, the present novel and the original The Time Machine result indirectly from time travel activities.

Through Havig, Robert Anderson knows of the coming nuclear War of Judgement that is a premise of the Maurai series. He comments:

"Oh, God, the young, the poor young! Poul, my generation and yours have had it outrageously easy. All we ever had to do was be white Americans in reasonable health, and we got our place in the sun." (p. 6)

Well, we cannot exactly choose to be white. By putting that single adjective into the mouth of an older character, Anderson acknowledges a deep division in American society during the period referred to.

By time traveling within the twentieth century, Havig tells the medical practitioner Robert Anderson things that we know:

"They'll find the molecular basis for heredity, approximately ten years from now."
"What?...This you've got to tell me more about!"
"Later...I'll give you as much information on DNA and the rest as I can, though that isn't a whale of a lot..." (p. 47) 

And many of us would not have been able to tell him much either.

No comments: