Saturday, 21 July 2012

There Will Be Time III

In Poul Anderson's There Will Be Time (New York, 1973), the time traveler Jack Havig tells Robert Anderson that the Mong will invade North America across the Bering Straits which will be frozen when the War of Judgement fills the atmosphere with dust.

If we have read Anderson's Maurai series, then we already know of this invasion. Characters in future histories often refer to an event that has occurred either in an earlier episode of the fictitious history or, as in this case, simply between our time and theirs. Here is yet another perspective. Havig refers to an invasion that occurs not in his and Anderson's shared past but in a future that he has traveled through.

We have, in earlier works, encountered individuals from whose perspective the Mong invaded several centuries previously. Or have we? From the perspective of There Will be Time, the Maurai series is a fictional narrative based on accounts received by Poul Anderson indirectly, via Robert Anderson, from Jack Havig.

Willingly suspending disbelief while reading Orion Shall Rise, we accept at face value accounts of the Maurai Federation, the Northwest Union and the Domain of Skyholm. Willingly suspending disbelief while reading There Will Be Time, we accept that there is a future civilization that Poul, not Robert or Jack, has called "Maurai" and that Poul's accounts of it are fictions incorporating some elements of veracity. Simultaneously, we know that both texts are equally works of fiction. Complicated but creative.

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