Monday, 1 October 2012

Dancer And Who

I have suggested some parallels between Poul Anderson's The Dancer From Atlantis (London, 1977) and Doctor Who but, of course, the differences are greater.

(i) Sahir, the dark skinned man in the malfunctioning space-time vehicle, is not from another planet but, more logically, from the future of Earth.

(ii) Sahir does carry a language teaching device, the mentator, but, of course, mere travel to another time in his vehicle, the anakro, does not bestow the ability to speak with the locals in whatever language they use.

(iii) The three people from different periods who are accidentally pulled through time by the anakro do not then accompany Sahir through space and time. On the contrary, he dies so that they are stranded and must devise a way to attract other time travelers for transport home. Thus, they do become traveling companions but not through time.

(iv) In Dancer, " 'There aren't...won't be...many time expeditions. Ever. Energy cost too great...and...environment couldn't stand much of that...' " (p. 33) This differentiates Dancer not only from the Doctor Who scenario of many Time Lords but also from Anderson's other scenarios of a Time Patrol, time corridors and mutant time travelers.

(v) The Tardis disappears, spends some of its time in "the Time Vortex" and emerges elsewhere in the continuum whereas the anakro travels along a great circle on the Earth's surface. The early model sets off on a pre-set course from Hawaii towards an ancient energy-releasing catastrophe which should boost it towards its eventual destination in prehistoric Africa.

(vi) The defect in the Tardis meant that the Doctor could not control where or when it emerged. The defect in the anakro is faulty insulation against the effects of the "...immense energy concentration to warp the continuum." (p. 33) This has two consequences. First, warp fields that should not have interacted with matter en route do in fact draw along a human body, Duncan Reid, and the halt ordered by Sahir cannot be immediate because of inertia so that a few more bodies are drawn along before the anakro can stop. Secondly, just before stopping, they pass the catastrophe. Its interaction with the warp fields causes a radiation blast killing Sahir's partner and causing Sahir also to die soon after leaving the anakro and establishing communication with Reid via the mentator (p. 33).

No comments: