Friday, 28 February 2014

The Knights Templar

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 737-765).

Poul Anderson was asked to contribute to an anthology of original short stories about the Knights Templar. He thought that it seemed a good place for another Time Patrol story. I agree but would not have thought of that. A story about the Knights might be historical fiction or fantasy (I seem to remember that most in this anthology were the latter) but Anderson made his science fiction and made it part of an existing series and was commendably restrained in his treatment of the Knights.

He gives us a detailed history of the Knights as a secretive military religious order, pioneering banking and accumulating wealth, with a circular causality explanation of why their fleet escaped when most of the Knights were arrested. He does not make them a front for the Time Patrol. They are simply an historically important organization that the Patrol must infiltrate to gather intelligence.

He informs us that the idol that they are accused of worshiping is merely a relic believed to be Abraham's jawbone, although even this might be suspect since "'...the ancient Greeks kept the jawbones of heroes for oracles.'" (p. 755)

Religion in France, 1307, is extremely varied:

"'Everybody nowadays is superstitious. Heresy is widespread, if mostly covert; likewise witchcraft and other pagan survivals. Heterodoxy in a thousand different forms is almost universal among the illiterate majority, ignorant of orthodox theology. The Templars have long been exposed to Islam, not always in a hostile fashion, and the Muslim world is full of magicians.'" (ibid.)

Pagan survivals, Muslim influence and illiteracy causing heterodoxy: the Church used to pride itself on uniformity of doctrine throughout its membership. When betrayed by Christendom, most Knights go the Moors who disperse them among their forces. Could the dispersed Knights have influenced Christian heresies and Muslim sects (p. 749)? The Patrol must investigate. New speculations and fictions could proliferate.

In an introduction to this story, Anderson writes that The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, co-founded and co-edited by Anthony Boucher:

"...was where the Time Patrol stories got started and most of them appeared. They have been collected in two volumes, The Time Patrol and The Shield Of Time." (p. 738)

Not most, the first five of thirteen, if we count the tripartite ...Shield... as three.

Everard's Apartment II

See here.

Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991).

In spring 1987, it has rained and scents of blossoms and green plants enter the open windows of Manson Everard's New York apartment. Everard mixes Scotch and soda at the bar for himself and one guest. (Scotch saved the universe in an earlier story!)

In 1988, Everard listens to Bach's St Mark Passion, recorded in Leipzig Cathedral on Good Friday 1731. Wanda, hearing it in the background when she rings Everard's unlisted number, realizes that he is not a "'...simple Garrison Keillor farmboy..." (p. 101). (I had to google "Garrison Keillor.")

In 1990, the little bar and the crossed spears and helmet are still in the apartment but the floor is bare. The rug had got scruffy and visitors had reproached him for it. His study's dummy computer conceals Patrol technology.

Later in 1990, there is lightning at night, matching Everard's mood. More Scotch and soda from the bar. Our last sight of Everard in the apartment is of him looking through an open window at wind and lightning.

We want to see more but Everard could not have stayed in that apartment indefinitely if the series had continued. In 2000, he would be officially seventy six and would have come to the end of the 1850-2000 Patrol milieu. So where-when next?

Everard's Apartment

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Manson Everard lives in a New York apartment when, at the age of thirty, he is recruited into the Time Patrol in 1954 and still lives there when we last see him in 1990 but by then he is much older than sixty six because of all his time traveling. However, this affects neither his appearance nor his energy because he has benefited from the Patrol's longevity treatment.

From his window, he sees a crowded street though not "...the towers of Manhattan..." (p. 17). The apartment has a bookshelf (p. 18) and a bar (p. 55). Above the latter:

"He had hung two crossed spears and a horse-plumed helmet from the Achaean Bronze Age..." (ibid.)

On the floor is "...the polar bear rug, which Bjarni Herjulfsson had once given to Everard..." (pp. 129-130). Standing on this rug and looking out the apartment window, John Sandoval sees that:

"Towers were sharp against a clear sky; the noise of traffic was muted by height." (p. 130)

By 1980, there is dirt, disorder, danger and decay in New York but Everard needs a twentieth century pied-a-terre and "...had grown used to these lodgings..." (p. 352).

"On a high floor, [the apartment] was an oasis of quiet and cleanliness." (p. 353)

Bookshelf-lined walls, three excellent pictures, Bronze Age spears and a polar bear rug from tenth-century Greenland. A local saloon serves a free lunch in the 1890's.

Later in 1980, snow falls outside while Everard and his guest hear a recorded medieval Japanese koto (traditional stringed instrument) performance (p. 385).

On 24 May 1987, Everard sits " his shabby old armchair." (p. 726) The apartment is "...comfortable with souvenirs..." (ibid.), including:

" - Bronze Age helmet and spears above the bar, polar bear rug from Viking Age Greenland on the floor..." (ibid.)

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Trice

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

It is impossible to be too vigilant in researching every detail of Poul Anderson's vast vocabulary:

"He could cruise for a long piece of lifespan if need be, seeking the trice which would be his." (p. 126)

I skipped over "...trice...", thinking vaguely that it must be some term in a card game - three winning cards or something of that sort. However, having googled no less than four words for the previous post, I returned to "trice" and found that it was a word that I already knew but had never seen used in quite that way before.

It means an instant or very short period of time, as in phrases like "He came back in a trice." So it has no connection with the number three. But I had only ever seen the phrase "in a trice," not the word "trice" used as a separate noun. This use of the word is particularly appropriate for a time travel story. There may only be a "trice" in which Tom is able to save Feliz's life (see previous posts on "Gibraltar Falls") but Tom can afford to spend a lot of his own personal time going back and forth in time looking for that almost instantaneous opportunity.

It seems that "to trice" is a transitive verb, meaning "to hoist and secure with a rope." Thus, "trice" as a noun might mean "at one tug." As I say, we can learn a lot merely by looking up the meanings of words used by Anderson.

Castra Vetera

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York), pp. 469-477.

"...testudines..." (p. 471), as used here, is the plural of  "testudo," meaning a movable shelter to protect soldiers engaged in a siege.

"...amphorae..." (p. 473) are a very old kind of container.

"...the praetorian gate..." (p. 474) is the main entrance to a camp - a "praetor" was one kind of Roman official.

The "...pomoerium..." (p. 476) was the sacred boundary of Rome.

As I have remarked before, Poul Anderson novels often start with an introductory or scene-setting chapter that I tend to skip on rereading. "Star Of The Sea," section 1, is one of those. Its viewpoint character is the Roman legate Munius Lupercus who will be captured and offered to Odin later in this short novel although section 1 is the only chapter narrated from his point of view.

Lupercus, the commander conversing with his orderly and staff officer, is comparable to Gratillonius in Poul and Karen Anderson's King of Ys Tetralogy. Both are Roman army officers on active duty. Section 1 is historical fiction. Although "Star Of The Sea" is science fiction because it involves time travel, this section describes only the Romans in Castra Vetera and their barbarian besiegers.

Lupercus, knowing that something has inflamed the Germans again, sees:

the shrunken Rhine, easily crossed by hostiles, where supply ships run aground and may then be captured;
blond barbarians with emblems, weapons and hair knotted, braided or dyed;
Batavi, Canninefates, Tungri, Frisii, Bructeri and mounted Tencteri;
smoke from the kettles and spits of keening women;
ants, beetles and crows eating corpses and entrails;
broken weapons and ruined testudines;
a two-story wheeled siege tower.

A crane arm captures prisoners, including one who swears by Woen, Donar and Tiw, identified by Lupercus with Mercury, Hercules and Mars. I am not sure about all of these identifications:

Wednesday, in English, is Mercredi, in French, because both Woden and Mercury lead the dead;
Thursday is Jeudi because both Thor and Jupiter wield the thunderbolt;
Tuesday is Mardi because both Tiw and Mars are gods of war.

Thus, the identification of Donar/Thor with Hercules is a surprise.

The prisoner tells Lupercus what, or rather who, has inflamed the Germans. The sibyl Veleda has called on every tribe to rise because the goddess has told her that Rome is doomed.

"The Batavian squared his shoulders. 'Do what you like to me, Roman. You're a dead man, you with your whole stinking Empire.'" (p. 477)

Lupercus is a dead man, as I said. But a threat to the Empire must be thwarted if history is to stay on track.

Section 2 begins:

"In the closing decades of the twentieth century..." (ibid.)

Surely the late twentieth century is way too late to address a threat to the Roman Empire? No, because what happens at the beginning of section 2 is that Manson Everard arrives by timecycle in the Time Patrol Amsterdam office. Everard will have much to do with Veleda.

A Neat Rescue Operation

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 113-128.

I want to remain mentally with the Time Patrol for a while longer but, by the end of this post, will have no further installments to reread or post about so I think that there will be a pause in blog activity for a while.

By comparing dates as given in different stories, we notice that the home era of Feliz a Rach in "Gibraltar Falls" is about a century earlier than the origin date of the energy guns mounted on Time Patrol timecycles.

Tom Nomura has seen Feliz's timecycle with Feliz seated on it, held by her safety harness, pulled down into the massive waterfall that is the origin of the Mediterranean Sea. He has returned to the Time Patrol base to ask for help but this has been refused so he returns alone.

Leaping back and forth in time, he sees Feliz go under and his younger self flee for help;
hovering within a yard of the water, he returns through time and space, seeking the falling timecycle;
a score of him scan a few seconds but ignore each other;
seeing Feliz's falling timecycle, he locks a tractor beam onto it;
his one machine cannot pull hers from the fall so he is about to go under with her;
however, three other cycles with tractor beams arrive to help his;
they pull Feliz's cycle loose;
Tom goes back in time those three times to save himself and her.

In this story, the concluding section alone is separated from the rest of the text by a row of asterisks. Everard had received a message stating that Feliz had never returned to her home era. The Patrol does not disapprove of Tom's initiative in saving her but they "'...cannot have loose ends.'" (p. 127)

By the rules of time travel as stated in the series, I think that Feliz could now return to her home era. If she were to do that, then the timeline in which her home era office received a message capsule inquiry from Everard and responded to that inquiry by saying that she had not returned would be a deleted timeline. Instead, there would be a timeline in which she did return and in which no such inquiry from Everard was received. In that case, the only anomaly or inconsistency would the reply that Everard did receive saying that she had not returned. That message would have the same status as the Tacitus Two text in "Star Of The Sea," a text from a deleted timeline. However, the Danellians, and therefore the Patrol, want to inhabit a timeline in which such anomalies have been, if not eliminated, then at least minimized. The solution is that Feliz can base herself in another era as Mrs Thomas Nomura.

In "Brave To be A King," milieu HQ in 1890-1910 tells Cynthia Denison in the mid-twentieth century that her husband, Keith, never did return from a mission in ancient Persia. Everard says that, after telling her that, they ordered a search for Keith. Surely they would do it the other way round, not wanting "loose ends" if Keith is found after all? In any case, Everard does then search, find Keith and bring him back so does milieu HQ lie to Cynthia when she makes her initial inquiry?

Gibraltar Falls III

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 113-128.

Rereading Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series has been a new lease of life for this blog but I am coming to the end of rereading the series and really must take a break after that.

"Gibraltar Falls" is sixteen pages, divided into eight unnumbered and untitled sections. The first section describes the natural environment of the Time Patrol base in southern Iberia during the hundred year transition from the Miocene to the Pliocene epoch.

In the second section, Feliz a Rach and Tom Nomura leave the base on their timecycles but use these temporal vehicles only as anti-gravity-powered aircraft. The human drama has begun - Tom is the viewpoint character so we know that he loves Feliz. In the third section, they fly above the Gates of Hercules where the Atlantic pours through into the Mediterranean basin. Feliz is making a full-sensory recording; Tom, her assistant, carries tapes, power cells and other equipment.

In the fourth section, Feliz flies too near the waterfall and is pulled into it. "He fled for help." (p. 121)

The fifth section: Everard tells Tom that an inquiry by message capsule has disclosed that Feliz never returned to her home era. A rescue attempt would be dangerous and the record shows that, if they tried, they failed. Therefore, they should not have made the inquiry, which now constrains their actions.

Tom thinks:

"Never say it...that I could tell her and my earlier self to beware. It did not happen, therefore it will not happen." (pp. 122-123)

If, after his conversation with Everard, this Tom, the Tom who saw Feliz fall, does travel back one day, speaks to his day-younger self and to the still living Feliz, then returns to one moment after his conversation with Everard, then he will now coexist not only with a Feliz who, forewarned, had not flown too close to the waterfall but also with a Tom who had been visited by his older self, had not seen Feliz fall and therefore had not had any reason to travel back one day to issue a warning. Presumably such self-duplication is to be avoided, if nothing else.

In "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth," if Carl Farness had refused to return to the fourth century and betray his followers, then, as an immediate consequence of this refusal, he would have been faced with the return to the twentieth century of the Carl who had appeared in 372 and betrayed his followers. When Everard tells Carl that this betrayal is necessary, they are speaking in the timeline in which, although they had not realized it until now, that betrayal had already happened - so there was a Carl who appeared and made the betrayal and that Carl will return home. The Carl to whom Everard is speaking can either travel to 372 and be the Carl who made the betrayal or remain in 1935 and see that other Carl return. The series does not mention this kind of duplication which seems to me a very real possibility.

There are three more sections of "Gibraltar Falls" but I have other things to do first.

Revisiting Successive Timelines

Copied from the Logic of Time Travel blog:

Rereading Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series reopens the issues of the two "Logic of Time Travel" articles at the beginning of this blog.

In the standard science fiction causality violation scenario, a time traveler originates in timeline 1 and travels to the past of that timeline but then "changes the past," thus generating timeline 2. One way to picture this is to represent timeline 1 by a horizontal line and timeline 2 by a second line emerging at an angle from the point representing the moment of the causality violation but this entails that, at that moment, the time traveler disappears from timeline 1 and creates around himself an entire new universe for timeline 2! I do not think that either the functioning of a time machine or the actions of a time traveler would be able to create all that organized matter and energy.

I think that it makes more sense to model temporal change on experienced change. Thus, in experienced change, a single temporal dimension connects states changed from to states changed to. Each of these states is a configuration of the entire three dimensional universe. Similarly, in temporal change, a second temporal dimension connects changing states. Each of these states is an entire four dimensional continuum with its own internal temporal dimension. It is these temporal dimensions that we call timelines 1, 2 etc. 

A time traveler originates in timeline 1 but either transforms timeline 1 into timeline 2 or causes timeline 2 to succeed timeline 1 along the second temporal dimension - these are alternative descriptions of a single process. In The Shield Of Time, Poul Anderson presents another scenario: a quantum change in space-time-energy transforms timeline 1 into timeline 2.

If a story were set in the timeline 2 of the quantum change scenario but without time travelers, then readers would recognize an alternative history or parallel universe story. However, "parallel" implies simultaneity or co-existence whereas I argue that timeline 1 does not coexist with timeline 2 but preexists and causes it along the second temporal dimension. In that dimension, timeline 1 is not contemporary with but earlier than timeline 2 and therefore is inaccessible to a time traveler who can either remain in timeline 2 or advance to timeline 3 but not return to timeline 1. That is how Anderson describes the relationship between the current and deleted timelines in the Time Patrol series.

Gibraltar Falls II

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

The viewpoint character of Poul Anderson's "Gibraltar Falls" is Tom Nomura, recruited to the Time Patrol in San Francisco 1972, assistant to Feliz a Rach, aristocrat and artist of the fortieth century First Matriarchy making a full-sensory recording of the Atlantic filling the Mediterranean basin for the many Patrol members wanting to experience that event but unable to crowd into the narrow long ago time-slot.

One paragraph describes looming banks of upflung mist and cold salt fog so thick that it is "...unsafe to breathe for more than a few minutes." (p. 116) Other paragraphs describe currents sucked from Atlantic immensity toward the new inter-continental gap, violently clashing and recoiling before becoming a single white and emerald stream and an eight mile wide waterfall that makes clouds with wheeling rainbows and fills the former desert with an expanding blue lake and canyon-carving rivers.

It is difficult to visualize what Anderson describes and easy to hurry on to the human events. Water many miles wide must fall ten thousand feet. Nomura sees the headland that will be worn down to become Gibraltar. He and Feliz use their timecycles, vehicles capable of space-time travel, as flying machines for a bird's eye view and many close-ups of the cataract. I have tried to summarize Anderson's account in order to identify the stages of this massive material process before proceeding to the human story that follows.

Gibraltar Falls

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Two writers of time travel fiction, Julian May and Poul Anderson, describe the Atlantic pouring into the Mediterranean basin. Anderson tells us that:

"...this event would move the planet from its Miocene to its Pliocene epoch." (p. 119)

Such epochs are mentioned in the Time Patrol series whenever Patrol members travel further back in time than the human history that they guard, in this case to study and experience the origin of the Mediterranean Sea.

The opening five paragraphs of Anderson's "Gibraltar Falls" are a separate section of descriptive prose. The opening sentence:

"The Time Patrol base would only remain for the hundred-odd years of inflow." (p. 113)

- establishes by its first three words that this is a Time Patrol story but Manson Everard does not appear until the beginning of the second section of the story and even then is no longer the viewpoint character.

We are told that:

"...few people other than scientists or maintenance crew would stay there for long at a stretch." (ibid.)

Everard is at the small base on "...the southern end of Iberia..." (ibid.) on holiday. Given Patrol longevity treatment, it would be possible for some scientists to live at the base for the entire century of inflow if that was considered necessary for a full understanding of the epochal event.

Although the sky is cloudless and the land is dry with burnt grass and widely spaced plants, vultures and hawks hover above numerous grazing species and occasionally upright apes.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Disaster

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

(This cover illustrates "The Only Game In Town.")

"A stern chase..." (p. 168) is a chase in which the pursuing ship follows directly in the wake of the pursued.

Having escaped from the Mongol camp, Everard must:

evade Mongol pursuit;
return immediately to rescue the concussed John Sandoval who otherwise will die soon.

However, suddenly there is thunder and lightning and he need not hurry. Above him, Manson Everard has returned on the timecycle. When, later on his world line, Everard tries to arrest Merau Varagan of the Exaltationists, Varagan is rescued by his future self. The Patrol forbids its members to rescue their younger selves:

"Too much danger of a closed causal loop, or of tangling past and future." (p. 170)

 - but Everard has doubled back in time to rescue Sandoval, not himself.

The Patrol exists to prevent one temporal paradox, causality violation, but why do they prohibit the other, circular causality? Sometimes they close a causal circle in order to prevent a causality violation, as in "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth," but otherwise the Danellian ideal seems to be a timeline free from either temporal paradox, which is impossible given the amount of time travel. Patrol activity is impossible without interaction between past and future.

As he escapes, Everard realizes what his older self must be doing and thus what is the disaster that prevented the Mongols from returning home. A sorcerer swooped down, killed their horses and burned their ships. And this closed a causal circle because, with the benefit of hindsight, Mongol and Confucian influence is discernible in some North American tribes. But did Everard and Sandoval need to be confused and captured and Sandoval concussed before the solution was found?  

Drinking In 1280 AD

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

"...kumiss..." (pp. 139, 162) is "...fermented mare's milk..." (p. 139), with mild alcohol content.

"...bonze..." (p. 166) is an obsolete Western term for Buddhist clergy. 

"...kvass..." (p. 167) is a thin beer.

The Noyon Toktai offers to drink with the prisoner Eburar (Everard) but the latter does not like kumiss so they fetch his two captured canteens of Scotch. When Toktai samples it, he asks whether it is made of dragon's blood.

Everard, glimpsing a way out, offers a drink to his two guards. Toktai cannot object because Mongol officers share equally with their men. When Toktai says it is time to turn in, Everard taunts him with not being able to drink whisky so, of course, he continues. (In ancient Persia, Everard taunted Harpagus into attacking him, enabling Everard to dispatch Harpagus instead of continuing to fight with his two men.)

Most thirteenth century brews are well under five per cent alcohol with high food content whereas Scotch whisky cannot be drunk like beer or even like wine. Everard tries to grab the Scotch back and is knocked down to the guards' amusement. They do not notice Toktai passing out. One guard falls and vomits and the other is easily knocked out by Everard who is then free to escape.

This is perhaps Anderson's best "our hero has been captured but is able to knock out a guard and escape" scene. Every step from Toktai offering a drink to Everard knocking out the second guard is plausible. If Toktai had refused to continue drinking when taunted, what would have happened? Sandoval dies in captivity, Everard continues to be a prisoner, the Mongols conquer North America and the timeline guarded by the Time Patrol does not exist? Can the fate of the universe depend on the outcome of a drinking contest?

I think that some Danellians and retired Patrolmen, maybe including Everard, are based in the far past and can intervene to restore the preferred timeline if necessary.

To Arrange A Disaster IV

(Tomorrow, I will be out during the day and again in the evening so there should be a decrease in blogging.)

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

A "yawara" (p. 157) is a weapon used in Japanese martial arts.

Instead of arranging a disaster, the Time Patrolmen experience one:

the Mongols capture them, using the flashlight that they gave to the Noyon as a present;
Sandoval is clubbed unconscious and, without Patrol medical treatment, will die soon;
the Confucian scholar, Li Tai-Tsung, tells the prisoner Everard that, if he cooperates, he "'...may hope in time to rise high in the provincial court, after the conquest.'" (p. 160)

Will the conquest imagined by Sandoval succeed?

"Why had this interference been ordered at all, if there were not - in some paradoxical way his twentieth-century logic couldn't grasp - an uncertainty, a shakiness in the continuum right at this point?" (p. 161)

"There are quirks and discontinuities in space-time. The world lines can double back and bite themselves off, so that things and events appear causelessly, meaningless flutters soon lost and forgotten. Such as Manse Everad, marooned in the past with a dead John Sandoval, after coming from a future that never existed as an agent of a Time Patrol that never was." (ibid.)

And what better place to stop reading for the night?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

To Arrange A Disaster III

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Everard's confusion continues:

"'Our orders are to make these people give up their exploration. What happens afterward is none of our business. So they don't make it home. We won't be the proximate cause, any more than you're a murderer if you invite a man to dinner and he has a fatal accident on the way.'" (p. 152)

Sorry, Manse. Your orders, as explained by Sandoval on p. 133, were precisely to arrange whatever disaster it was that prevented the Mongols from returning home. Just before misquoting their orders to his colleague, Everard had reflected that it was within his power to:

"Swoop down from above, fire a few blasts from the forty-first-century energy gun mounted in this timecycle, and that's the end..." (p. 151)

That is interesting. I never noticed before that the gun mounted in the timecycle is from the forty first century. I compiled quite a comprehensive Chronology of the Time Patrol earlier but did not include for the forty first century the manufacture of energy guns used in Time Patrol timecycles. Those cycles are amazing artefacts. They can:

fly and hover;
disappear at any time or place on Earth and appear at any other time or place without seeming to expend any energy.

Insofar as the time traveler sits on, instead of being enclosed by, the timecycle, this vehicle is like an updated, streamlined, improved, mass-produced descendant of HG Wells' elaborate nineteenth century contraption - although Anderson also imagined time corridors, psychic time travel and other kinds of time machines. His hall mark was consistent comprehensiveness.

Back to Everard in 1280, his response to the possibility of killing the Mongols is:

"No, by God, they can send me to the exile planet before I'll do any such thing. There are decent limits." (ibid.)

But might there be periods in which the Danellians do work with human beings who operate like that? Ironically, we last see Everard, in 1307, leading a Patrol team that breaks into a Parisian house and loots it of artifacts that will be displayed in museums uptime. But the robbery is a cover for rescuing a Patrolman detained in the house. It is not, we are to understand, the Patrol's usual modus operandi.

Why I Am Posting About The Time Patrol

I have posted about the Time Patrol before but did not expect to do so again, certainly not in such detail. I had read or reread and posted about all of Poul Anderson's novels and series with the single exception of one volume of his detective trilogy so I looked at those of his collections that I have, first for stories not yet read, then for stories not read recently.

The collections include Past Times with its excellent time travel stories. I expected to reread and post about the entire contents of this collection. However, the time travel stories, "The Nest" and "The Little Monster," renewed an interest in Time Patrol which, after all, is another of Anderson's collections. "The Nest" describes an organization of time traveling brigands whereas the Patrol opposes such brigands. "The Little Monster" describes a technological future sending explorers into the past, as does the Patrol. "Nest" and "Monster" are good but short whereas Patrol is long and seemingly endless so it was natural to go there next.

I would like to see Past Times revised so as to include "The Man Who Came Early," another sort of pre-Patrol time travel story, and to exclude non-time travel stories and items which, of course, should be collected elsewhere. "The Light," a space travel story with good accounts of walking on the Moon, also belongs in an anthology of "First Man on the Moon" stories, e.g.:

"The Man Who Sold The Moon" by Robert Heinlein, not about the man who first landed on the Moon but about the man who financed the journey;
"Wrong Way Street" by Larry Niven - a later astronaut who lands on the Moon, then time travels, can thus become the first man on the Moon;
"Forms of Things Unknown" by CS Lewis connects a Moon landing to Greek mythology;
"The Light" by Poul Anderson connects a Moon landing to Renaissance art;
extracts from relevant novels by Wells, Burroughs, Heinlein etc.

I have not read any of Jules Verne's three interplanetary novels so I have ordered them through the Public Library. (His characters do not land on the Moon.)

To Arrange A Disaster II

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Everard continues:

"'And we'll have set them on that trip at precisely that time! If we didn't interfere, they'd start off later, the circumstances of the voyage would be different...Why should we take the guilt?'" (p. 146)

Uncharacteristically, Everard is groping. When the Exaltationists hired a ship in "Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks," they knew in advance that it would sail into a storm, from which they would be rescued by co-conspirators on timecycles, but Everard does not know for sure that, if the Mongols start home early because of his interference, they will hit difficulties that they would miss later.

What he does know is that he and Sandoval have been ordered to prevent the Mongols from returning home. Some as yet unspecified Patrol intervention is necessary. Knowing this, they intervene as minimally as possible in the hope that this will be enough. But, of course, if they bungle and make a mess but then set things right, then their superiors will have known all along that that was what was going to happen.

Sandoval points out that the Mongol leader, the Noyon Toktai, probably plans to return on horse across the Bering Strait. In this story, Anderson's characters do not experience but do describe and discuss an alternative history, in this case the Mongol invasion of North America. Sandoval comments:

"'I don't care about the Aztecs; if you study them, you'll agree that Cortez did Mexico a favor.' (!)" (p. 148) (my exclamation mark)

Mongols resemble Romans:

depopulation of resistant areas;
but respect for those who submit;
armed protection;
competent government;
respect for civilization.


herders, not farmers, so no reason to destroy the Indians;
not racially prejudiced.

Tribes, outnumbering the invaders, would submit, gaining horses, sheep, cattle, textiles, metallurgy and Chinese civilization.

When Sandoval describes "'The Sachem Khan of the greatest nation on Earth!'" (p. 149)

- "Everard listened to the gallows creak of branches in the wind." (ibid.)

Is that a gallows for Western and Danellian civilization? All that Sandoval, who remembers an impoverished childhood and his mother dying of TB, and Everard need to do is to remain in the thirteenth century "'...till the crucial point was past.'" (ibid.)

They resent being told to interfere and begin to think that the alternative timeline might be better.

Two days later, probably because Everard has challenged their courage, the Mongols are advancing even faster. Trying to get them to turn back was not such a good idea.

"It occurred to [Everard] that he had been rushed into this job, all the way down the line, with never a pause to plan it as it should have been done. Hence this botch. But how much blame must fall on the subconscious reluctance of John Sandoval?" (p. 151)

We understand about John's reluctance but how can a time traveler, let alone a trained and experienced Time Patrol Unattached Agent, be rushed? He can make all his plans in the twentieth century with as many pauses as necessary before traveling back to intervene in the thirteenth.

To Arrange A Disaster

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

The Mongol expedition that entered North America in 1280 AD never returned to China so it must have met a disaster. Specialist John Sandoval of the Time Patrol tells Unattached Agent Everard that he has been ordered "' arrange that disaster. To revise history myself!'" (p. 133)

Sandoval is used to observing, not intervening, so he needs help from an Unattached Agent. However, arranging a disaster is not what Everard and he set out to do.

"'We don't have to kill them, you know. Just make them turn back. Your demonstration this afternoon [killing a deer with a machine gun] may be enough.'" (p. 146)

Sorry, Jack, but arranging a disaster and making them turn back are no way the same thing. What has to be prevented is their arrival back in China and making them turn back will not prevent that. It is more likely to cause it. Everard responds:

"'Yeah. Turn back...and what? Probably perish at sea. They won't have an easy trip home - storm, fog, contrary currents, rocks - in those primitive ships meant mostly for rivers.'" (ibid.)

But that would be equally true whether the Mongols are turned back early by the Patrolmen or whether they start their return trip later. (Interruption for food.)

Temporal Relationships Between And Within Timelines

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

"Delenda Est" informs us of three successive timelines in which the Scipios:

(i) escape from the battle of Ticinus because no time traveler intervenes in the battle;
(ii) die at Ticinus because Neldorians intervene;
(iii) escape because the Patrol counter-intervenes.

The Danellians would have preferred to preserve (i) but are prepared to settle for (iii). What they do live in is not any "original" timeline but one that is patched together by lots of Patrol activity.

It is clear that the relationship between (i), (ii) and (iii) is one of before and after. Thus, it is a temporal relationship.

Within (i) and (iii), though not in (ii), I live from 1949 to, I hope, 2049 or beyond. 1949 is 100 years before 2049 within each timeline. (Timeline (ii) does not have a BC/AD calender but, nevertheless, those years exist within it with different designations. In fact our 1949 is their 5953.)

When (by "when," I mean along a second temporal dimension) timeline (i) exists, I am born in 1949 and live at least until 2014. When timeline (ii) exists, I am not born and therefore do not live or die either. When timeline (iii) exists, I am again born in 1949 and live at least until 2014. At no moment within any of the timelines do I suddenly cease to exist.

The Original Timeline?

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

"'Whatever you have to do to cancel a temporal interference, you can at least think you're restoring the original line of development.' Everard fumed on his pipe. 'Don't remind me that "original" is meaningless in this context. It's a consoling word.'" (p. 146)

"Original" is not meaningless in this context. Let us suppose that a time traveler originates in one timeline but that, by traveling into the past and altering events, he generates another timeline. We can begin by numbering these timelines as 1 and 2. Timeline 1 is literally the time traveler's original timeline, in which he originated. Timeline 2 is his derivative or divergent timeline.

It is easy to differentiate alternative uses of the word "before."

(i) Timeline 1 is before timeline 2 in the time traveler's experience and memory.

(ii) Unless informed by the time traveler, inhabitants of timeline 2 can know nothing of events in timeline 1. If asked about such events, they will reply not that those events happened before but that they never happened.

(iii) The events of timeline 1 did not happen before the events of timeline 2 along the same temporal axis as the events of timeline 2. If they had done so, then there would be one timeline, not two.

(iv) Let us postulate not three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension but three spatial dimensions and two temporal dimensions. Before bringing the second temporal dimension into play, we are already familiar with the idea that, in our four dimensional universe, each instant along the temporal axis contains the entire spatial universe with all its three dimensions. In the five dimensional universe, each instant along the second temporal axis contains an entire four dimensional continuum with its three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension.

(v) The first temporal dimension is a linear sequence of temporal ("before" or "after") relationships between a succession of three dimensional states of the universe. The second temporal dimension is a linear sequence of temporal relationships between a succession of timelines.

(vi) The original timeline, before any others, was one in which the Nine discovered time travel. It is not clear what happened next:
"'Time travel was old before [the Danellians] emerged, there had been uncountable opportunities for the foolish and the greedy and the mad to go back and turn history inside out. They did not wish to forbid the travel - it was part of the complex which had led to them - but they had to regulate it. The Nine were prevented from carrying out their schemes. And the Patrol was set up to police the time lanes.'" (p. 11)

(vii) Does "...old..." mean just long ago on the original timeline or also long ago in terms of changes to history and thus in terms of number of timelines? Did the Danellians emerge in a subsequent timeline so that the timeline preserved by the Patrol is not the original? Either way, the term "original" is highly meaningful.

Some Points to Note In "The Only Game In Town"

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

(i)"Kublai" (p. 133): a sovereign or military ruler.

(ii) Anderson establishes early, on p. 135, that Everard and Sandoval have taken Scotch to 1280 AD because that will be important later, when the fate of the universe depends on a drinking session.

(iii) "Noyon" (p. 135), or "Noyan," was a title of authority, originally meaning "military commander," in the Mongol Empire.

(iv) "'The Tengri willing...'" (p. 137): misled both by the definite article and by the "-i" ending, which resembles a Latin masculine plural, I thought that the Tengri were the gods. In fact, Tengri, or the Tengri, is the chief Mongol god, the Sky-Father, married to the Earth-Mother.

(v) Bonwit Teller (p. 140): I had no idea what this meant, a quality New York department store - which went bankrupt thirty years after "The Only Game In Town" was published.

(vi) A Confucian scholar says, "'I am a stranger and ignorant...Forgive me if I do not understand your talk of irresistible weapons.'" (p. 144) Everard thinks, "Which is the politest way I've ever been called a liar..." (ibid.) More humor, I think. Excellent scholarly Diplomatese.

(vii) "Coronado" (p. 147) was a Spanish conquistador who visited North America.

(viii) "Pueblos" (p. 147) are Native American communities living in large buildings. Pueblo is Castilian for "town," derived from Latin populus, "people."

(ix) "Grand Cham" (p. 149): I could not find this on google.

(x) "Sachem" (p. 149): a paramount chief among some Native American tribes. The term is used in Poul Anderson's There Will be Time.

(xi) A "...yeibichai..." (p. 153) is a Navajo dance. The yeii are supernatural beings.

(xii) A "potlach" is a gift-giving feast among some Native American tribes.

Discussing The Time Patrol

I have not yet finished discussing Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series although clearly we have been through most of it by now. I feel privileged to be able to discuss the series at this length and in such depth, which would not be possible if there were not so much to be found in the texts. In fact, I am genuinely surprised at how much is to be found on rereading:

the languages, politics and religion of the divergent timeline in "Delenda Est";
the historical details of the two divergent timelines in The Shield Of Time;
the state of the world in 1280 AD;
Carl Farness' journey forward through time with Wodan;
Manse Everard's and Janne Floris' journey back through time with Veleda and Niaerdh;
the moment in a London hansom cab when the reality of time travel strikes home to Everard;
how much we can deduce from the minimal information about the Danellians;
the eventual emergence of a collective continuing villain, the Exaltationists, as against the less sophisticated Neldorians;
Anderson's clear statements of the temporal paradoxes which enable us to discuss them without immediately encountering glaring contradictions.

This feels like a culmination of Anderson's works although the later Dominic Flandry novels when reread with equal attention to detail can generate the same impression.

1280 AD

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

In 1280 AD:

Kublai Khan was the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire;
he had been visited by Marco Polo;
there were revolutionary secret societies in Cathay;
Japan had repelled a Mongol invasion;
Russian princes collected taxes for the Golden Horde, the northwestern sector of the Empire;
the Il-Khan Abaka, at war with the Golden Horde, ruled in Baghdad;
the Abbasid Caliphate had been driven from Baghdad to Cairo;
the Muslim Slave Dynasty ruled in Delhi;
Nicholas III was Pope;
Guelphs and Ghibellines were in conflict in Italy;
Edward I was King of England;
Rudolf I was King of Germany;
Philip the Bold was King of France;
Dante, Duns Scotus, Roger Bacon and Thomas Rhymer were alive;
the Yuan milieu HQ of the Time Patrol was in Peking, as is the 1850-2000 Asian milieu HQ;
Manson Everard and John Sandoval of the Patrol watched a Mongol expedition advancing through North America.

Poul Anderson presents all of this background information, which I have checked on google (I am not sure that Philip the Bold's titles included "King"?), before describing how Everard and Sandoval interact with the expedition, which they must prevent from returning to China.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Only Game In Town

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

On the floor of Manson Everard's New York apartment lies a polar bear rug given to Everard by Bjarni Herjulfsson. We later learn that Everard accompanied Bjarni to the New World and also that Everard will remove the rug when it gets scruffy and when too many people reproach him for it. (Fashions must change fast at the Time Patrol Academy and Pleistocene lodge: Everard's generation hunts the wild life whereas Wanda's photographs it.)

As a complement to Anderson's Time Patrol series, we should mention Harry Harrison's humorous The Technicolor Time Machine which explains how time travelers founded Vinland.

I thought that there was a contradiction in section 1 of "The Only Game In Town." When Everard asks Specialist John Sandoval why the Chinese discovery of North America requires his, Everard's, services, Sandoval replies, "'I wish to hell I knew...'" (p. 129).

However, at the end of the section, Sandoval does know that the mission is not to spy on the expedition but to cause the disaster that is necessary to prevent it from returning home. The contradiction is only apparent. Sandoval did know all along but was reluctant to say it. His "'I wish to hell I knew...'" meant that he wondered why the Patrol was now not preserving history but causing it.

Kublai Khan sent an expedition that never returned and the record was destroyed during the Ming revolt. So the expedition departed and something must have prevented it from returning. Sandoval's job, for which he needs Unattached help, is not to find out what prevented it but to prevent it.

Section 2 summarizes a lot of history which I will look at next time.

Reality And Interpretation

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Early in the first Time Patrol story, called "Time Patrol," Manson Everard has been at the Time Patrol Academy in the American Oligocene, in a warehouse in 1947 and now in a gas-lit private office with oak furniture and a thick carpet in 1894.

From the office, he emerges to travel through London in a hansom cab. This is his first experience of a public place in a past era. For the first time, he, a time traveler, must move among people of an earlier period and pass as one of them. Poul Anderson devotes just over half a page to telling us how this affects Everard:

"This was the first moment when the reality of time travel struck home to Everard...Now, clopping through a London he did not know in a hansom cab (not a tourist-trap anachronism, but a working machine, dusty and battered), breathing an air which held more smoke than a twentieth-century city but no gasoline fumes, seeing the crowds which milled past - gentlemen in bowlers and top hats, sooty navvies, long-skirted women, and not actors but real talking, perspiring, laughing and sombre human beings off on real business - it hit him with full force that he was here. At this moment his mother had not been born, his grandparents were young couples just getting settled to harness, Grover Cleveland was President of the United States and Victoria was Queen of England, Kipling was writing and the last Indian uprisings in America yet to come...It was like a blow on the head." (p. 24)

This is the Jack Finney take on time travel: just imagine what it would be like to be there then. And, to convey this, the author must present details; smoke, bowlers, navvies, not actors but real people.

That is description. The rest of the page is Whitcomb's interpretation of "...this day of England's glory." (ibid.)

"'I begin to understand...They never have agreed whether this was a period of unnatural, stuffy convention and thinly veneered brutality, or the last flower of Western civilization before it started going to seed. Just seeing these people makes me realize; it was everything they have said about it, good and bad, because it wasn't a simple thing happening to everyone, but millions of individual lives.'" (ibid.)

Everard agrees and says that this must be true of every age. I would remark further that, although no age is a simple thing happening to everyone, some historical generalizations are valid nonetheless. 1894 was only twenty years before 1914 so something was going wrong.

Back at the office, the local Patrol agent had consulted his Bradshaw (he had to do that) and told them to time hop to the following morning, allowing half an hour to cross London, and get the 8.23 out of Charing Cross. They travel in an almost familiar train to a sleepy village station. Guided by Bradshaw, they are very much in Sherlock Holmes territory and will soon be in the presence of the Great Detective. Having accepted the reality of the 1894 London as experienced by Everard, we must now suspend disbelief and accept the reality of that famous inhabitant of Victorian London as well.

A Clash Of Systems

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

In the eighteenth century, French Republicanism challenged European monarchies. In the twentieth century, market capitalism and state capitalism waged Cold War. That was in our timeline.

In the twentieth century of an altered timeline in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story, "Delenda Est," there is another clash of systems:

"'...the monarchy of Hinduraj against the sun-worshipping theocracy of Huy Brasael.'" (p. 195)

I prefer our problems to theirs! Anderson is making the point that that timeline is way behind ours in several important respects. If I lived there, I would have to support secularism and church-state separation as against theocracy. I would also argue for a constitutional, as against an absolute, monarchy. Thus, maybe there is always a way forward however bad the situation?

I remarked in a previous post that that timeline and the one guarded by the Patrol parted company so long ago that the only common language is classical Greek. Other common features are the names of gods, Bishop Ussher's creation date, Babylonian-derived units of time measurement and nationalism:

"This culture might not have the ruthless will and sophisticated cruelty of Western civilization; in fact, in some ways it looked strangely innocent. Still, that wasn't for lack of trying." (p. 203)

And the crucial difference, as with two later divergent timelines in the series, is:

"And, in this world, a genuine science might never emerge, man might endlessly repeat the cycle of war, empire, collapse, and war. In Everard's future, the race had finally broken out of it." (ibid.)

I think that it would be sufficient to end this line of thought there but Anderson and Everard continue:

"For what? He could not honestly say that this continuum was worse or better than his own. It was different, that was all." (pp. 203-204)

I think that ours is better - unless we manage to destroy the Earth in this century, of course.

"And didn't these people have as much right to their existence as - as his own, who were damned to nullity if he failed?" (p. 204)

Yes, these people have as much right to existence as Everard's but I have argued before that I do not think that any further temporal paradoxes will result in "nullity" for either population. In fact, when Everard tells Deirdre that the spells he used to work the timecycle prevent him from taking her home, this lie is unnecessary. He could return her to her twentieth century where she would continue to live even if her whole timeline becomes a past one from the point of view of an observer in another timeline.

What We Want To Know More About

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series discloses much about the Patrol and its main adversaries, the Exaltationists, but three other groups are also important:

the Nine discovered time travel but are mentioned only once;
the Danellians founded the Time Patrol but are mentioned briefly and usually kept in the background;
the Neldorians are time bandits but appear in only a single story which, for a decade and a half, was the culminating installment of the series.

The impression generated is that the Nine and the Danellians had to be mentioned to explain the origin of the Patrol but that thereafter the emphasis was meant to be on particular stories set in the past, not in the future. The Neldorians had to be mentioned as the source of a causality violation but, otherwise, were described as briefly as possible.

When Everard has deduced that the Scipios died at Ticinus, Van Sarawak infers:

"'Somebody must have knocked them off...Some time traveler. It could only have been that.'" (p. 219)

Everard replies:

"'Well, it seems probable, anyhow. We'll see.'" (ibid.)

Does he mean probable that the turning point was at Ticinus or probable that time travelers were involved? He does not yet know of any other source of causality violations although another source does come to light much later in The Shield Of Time.

The Neldorians are from the two hundred and fifth millennium, described as " age of bandits..." (p. 221). What does that mean? It would be interesting to learn more.

The history of the altered timeline states that, after winning the Roman Wars:

"'...the Carthaginian government was too venal to remain strong. Hannibal himself was assassinated by men who thought his honesty stood in their way.'" (p 201)

The writers of this history knew nothing of time travelers but Time Patrol spies learn that two Helvetian mercenaries called Phrontes and Himilco joined Hannibal in the Alps and gained his confidence, then, after the war, practically ran the government, organized Hannibal's murder and "...set new records for luxurious living." (p. 221) They look like Neldorians.

While some Patrolmen spy on the Neldorians, others rescue colleagues from "...more or less ignominious situations..." (ibid.) in the altered timeline. It is added:

"...another score would simply have to be written off." (ibid.)

But how is it known that the missing score had time traveled forward into the altered timeline and not into the original timeline?

The same question applies to Wanda in The Shield Of Time. She arrives back at the lodge and confirms that she has been in the alpha timeline but, before her return, Everard was certain that she was lost in the alpha timeline whereas, for all he knew, she could have traveled forward into the original timeline.

Italia Irredenta

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

When, in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story, "Delenda Est," Boierik Wulfilasson of Cimberland whines that war is necessary because:

"'Carthaglann stole Egypt, our rightful possession.'" (p. 210)

- Everard murmurs, "'Italia irredenta...'" (ibid.)

- which, of course, Boierik does not understand, although it is exactly what he has just expressed.

Boierik speaks Cimbri, not Italian. When I first read "Delenda Est," I picked up some vague idea of what Everard's Italian phrase might mean from the context but now I have a policy of checking every word or phrase used by Anderson that I do not understand.

"Italia irredenta" means "Italy unredeemed." Italian irredentists aimed at the unification of all Italian speaking people and of all territories deemed to be Italian territory. Thus, Corsica, Nice and Savoy have been claimed: a perfect recipe for endless war in the Mediterranean. Anderson shows nationalism and the state perpetuating themselves through alternate histories:

" was man, in any history." (p. 203)

Everard reflects that his captors were probably married with children, probably enjoyed beer and dice, and maybe bred horses or roses:

"But none of this would do their captives a bit of good, when the almighty Nation locked horns with its kin." (p. 209)

Divergent Religion

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

In our history, the Egyptian god Amun was called Zeus Ammon by the Greeks, Jupiter Ammon by the Romans and Amon by the Hebrews.

In the alternative history of Poul Anderson's "Delenda Est," in about 100 BC, Germanic tribes invaded Italy which in the twentieth century is called Cimberland and at that time its most powerful deity is Wotan Ammon. Thus, this name, mentioned only once in the story, is not a mere arbitrary juxtaposition invented by Anderson but is a logical extrapolation of the religion in a timeline where Wotan-worshipers had conquered Jupiter-worshipers and had then identified their chief deity with the important Egyptian Amun.

The twentieth century is polytheist. Not only did the destruction of the Romans by the Carthaginians (instead of vice versa) enable Germanic tribes to conquer Italy, it also enabled the Syrians, unopposed by the Romans, to suppress the Maccabees. Hence, no Judaism or Christianity. Prophetic monotheism excludes other gods whereas a different kind of inclusive monotheism can grow out of Paganism:

"'The more educated people think that there is a Great Baal who made all the lesser gods...'" (p. 195)

This is more like the Hindu approach. Recognition of the great Baal is compatible with maintaining the ancient cults and with respecting the more powerful foreign gods: "'Best not to chance their anger.'" (ibid.)

Respect other people's gods, yes. Fear their anger, no. Tibetan Buddhists have a story about one of their founding monks taming the local gods. Thus, the gods can still be there but should no longer be feared.

Divergent Languages

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Historical divergence implies linguistic divergence but a language that has not diverged too far yet might still be comprehensible. In "Delenda Est," Poul Anderson writes a few sentences that we understand and take to be in an existing European language - but then we are told that they are not.

When, coping inside an alternative timeline, Everard claims to understand a little Cimbric, his interlocutor responds:

"'Ah, aen litt. Gode!...Ik hait Boierik Wulfilasson ok main gefreond heer erran Boleslav Arkonsky.'" (p. 208)

We are told that Everard has never heard of this language but nevertheless follows it reasonably well although speaking it will be a problem because "...he couldn't predict how it had evolved." (ibid.)

That does not prevent him from trying:

"'What the hell erran thu macking, anyway?' he blustered. 'Ik bin aen man auf Sirius - the stern Sirius, mit planeten ok all. Set uns gebach or willen be der Teufel to pay!'
"Boierik Wulfilasson looked pained..." (ibid.)

- as well he might. Anderson wrote some humor and I think that this passage counts as an example of that.

But the main point in this passage is that Anderson composed a couple of sentences in one of the languages of an alternative history, then incorporated them into his text so that we read and understood them before we realized what they were.

Artisans And Druids

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

The divergent timeline in Poul Anderson's "Delenda Est" has not engineers and scientists but "'...artisans and druids...'" (p. 194), thus some technology and maybe some philosophy but no science.

A timecycle, coveted in an earlier story by Cyrus' Chiliarch Harpagus, has been captured by the government of Ynys yr Afallon who want the two captured Time Patrolmen to "help" them:

"'By showing our artisans and druids how to make more weapons and magical carts like your own.'" (ibid.)

Everard reflects that:

"They didn't have the tools to make the tools to make what was needed..." (ibid.)

Anderson's two predecessors in historical time travel fiction are Mark Twain and L Sprague de Camp. Twain's Yankee impossibly organized Arthurian Britons not only to manufacture a printing press, electric cables, machine guns etc but even to do it all in secret whereas de Camp's Martin Padway, transported to the late Roman Empire, innovates plausibly and gradually, starting with Arabic numerals, and has still not synthesized gunpowder by the end of Lest Darkness Fall, but by then has prevented the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Thus, Anderson improves on Twain and builds on but surpasses de Camp. Wells hinted at historical time travel in the Time Traveler's over-dinner conversation but then moved his central character only into the future.

Marius Again

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

In Roman history and in Poul Anderson's historical novel The Golden Slave, the Roman general Marius halted a barbarian invasion of Italy. Marius is mentioned in Anderson's Psychotechnic History and in Poul and Karen Anderson's King of Ys Tetralogy and also, I am fairly sure, in other works by Poul Anderson. I have discussed Marius more than once here.

Here he is again - or rather his absence is here, in another timeline. Because the Romans lost the Second Punic War, the Punic Wars are called the Roman Wars and there was no army of the Roman Republic led by Marius to oppose that barbarian invasion:

"'About a hundred years after the Roman Wars, some Germanic tribes overran Italy.' (That would be the Cimbri, with their allies the Teutones and Ambrones, whom Marius had stopped in Everard's world.)" (pp. 201-202)

Because the two histories diverged so long ago, the only language in common between Everard and a citizen of Ynys ar Afallon is ancient Greek. Everard once had a job in Alexandrine times and Deirdre Mac Morn is a Classical scholar who performs Greek drama. ("Mac" means "son" so a patronymic has become a surname, as in our timeline.) The disappearance of Rome from history becomes clear when Everard says:

"'I speak Latin too.'
"'Latin?' She frowned in thought. 'Oh, the Roman speech, was it not? I am afraid you will find no one who knows much about it.'" (p. 188)

(I keep trying to halt the forward momentum of this blog so that I can apply some attention to alternative activities. I have again reached a round number of posts near the end of a month so this might be a breathing space. Meanwhile, I would like to hear from blog readers. If anyone out there can find time to "comment" by saying who they are, where they are and how they came to be interested in Poul Anderson, that would be appreciated.)

Addendum, 24 Feb '14: As I thought, Marius is mentioned during a political and historical discussion in Poul Anderson's futuristic sf novel, Shield (New York, 1970), p. 86.

Blinking Out Of Space-Time?

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Manson Everard in a divergent timeline thinks:

"There were other Time Patrolmen in the pre-Roman past. They'd return to their respective eras and...
"Everard stiffened. A chill ran down his back and congealed in his belly.
"They'd return and see what had happened, and try to correct the trouble. If any of them succeeded, this world would blink out of space-time, and he would go with it." (p. 204)

When I first read that over fifty years ago, I thought, "The longer Everard remains in the divergent timeline, the greater the risk that he will be in it when it blinks out of existence," but, of course, this "...when..." does not refer to any moment within that timeline. At the moment when Everard thinks this, either he exists or he does not. The fact that he is thinking anything proves that he exists. Therefore, it is not true that he does not exist. Period. There are other points of view from which Everard no longer exists, for example the point of view of someone thinking about Everard after his death or the point of view of someone in a subsequent timeline but none of that changes the fact that Everard does exist now.

When Everard and Van Sarawak, accompanied by Deirdre, escape on a timecycle and take stock of where/when they have escaped to, Van Sarawak says:

"'What year is this? About the time of Christ? Then we're still upstairs of the turning point.'" (p. 217)

I thought, "Then travel further back without delay in case you are still in the divergent timeline when it blinks out of existence," but that was nonsense. The problem is that, when fictitious characters travel from, in this case, 1960 AD to about 30 AD, we imagine that 1960 and 30 and the date of the Second Punic War a few centuries BC are not different times but different places co-existing at the same time. Thus, we think, if a Time Patrolman arrives in say 213 BC and spends half an hour in that year before taking the action necessary to restore Roman victory in that war, then, half an hour after that Time Patrolman's arrival in 213 BC, the 30 AD and 1960 AD in which the Carthaginians had won that war will blink out of existence and, if Everard has lingered for more than half an hour in either of those years, then he will blink out of existence with it.

I hope that this clarification of intuitive thoughts demonstrates their absurdity.

Tam-o'-shanters And Strange Countries

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

I have googled three more words in "Delenda Est."

"...tam-o'-shanter..." (p. 181), a word that I recognized but realized that I did not know what it meant but then did recognize the object described, a kind of Scottish cap, which (I now know) is named after the title character of an epic by Robert Burns.

"...cannel..." (p. 184), I had no idea what this meant but its meaning is easy to google.

"Hinduraj" (p. 185): this is the kind of foreign word (in this case, a fictitious foreign word) whose meaning, at least in a general sense, is immediately clear both from the context of its use and from the form of the word itself. The British Raj was the British reign in India. I googled to check whether there is or has been any "Hinduraj" in our timeline and learned that the Hindu Raj is a mountain range in Pakistan.

In the divergent timeline:

Ynys yr Afallon = a North American confederacy, down to Colombia;
Tehannach = Texas;
Huy Braseal = much of South America;
Hinduraj = Australasia, Indonesia, Borneo, Burma, eastern India and much of the Pacific;
Punjab = Afghanistan and the rest of India;
Han = China, Korea, Japan and eastern Siberia;
Littorn = Russia and much of Europe;
Brittys = the British Isles;
Gallis = France and the Low Countries;
Celtan = Iberia;
Helveti = Switzerland and Austria;
Cimberland = Italy;
Hyperborea = Scandinavia;
Svea = north Scandinavia;
Gothland = south Scandinavia;
Carthagalann = a North African confederacy;
Parthia and Arabia = the Near East;
smaller countries occupy the rest of South America, the Balkans and southern Africa.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Delenda Est

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

When Manson Everard and Piet Van Sarawak arrive in the wrong 1960, the crowd that they see are described as "...roundheads..." (p. 178). I have googled this word but have found only the political term, "Roundhead," not a physiological term, "roundhead." Obviously, I know what a "round head" is but nevertheless have not elsewhere, as far as I know, come across "roundhead."

Everard describes the people as "'...brachycephalic...'" (p. 180). I have googled this word and do not quite connect its dictionary meaning with round heads. Indeed, "brachycephaly" is described as "flat head syndrome."

Although this particular inquiry has led no further yet, I find it fruitful not only to admire Anderson's large vocabulary but also to check the meaning of every single unfamiliar term. Doing this has proved to be informative.

The title of this story, "Delenda Est," of course requires an explanation that is not given in the text. "Delenda est Carthago" ("Carthage must be destroyed"), a slogan repeated in political speeches in the Roman Republic, meant that conflict with a persistent enemy must be ended not by a peace treaty leading to preparation for another war but by annihilation of the enemy.


As Bob Shaw observed in a Serious Scientific Talk at a Science Fiction Convention, most people think that, if they are struck by lightning, it will kill them but science fiction readers know that a much more likely outcome is that they will be flung into the past.

Which period of the past they will be flung into is a product of three factors:

the voltage of electricity in the lightning;
their body weight, measured in pounds;
which period the author has been mugging up on.

Lightning was the mechanism for time travel in L Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall and in Poul Anderson's "The Man Who Came Early," which is a direct comment on the de Camp novel. The Anderson story remarks that lightning-induced time travel happens very rarely - so rarely that it has happened in only one other work of fiction so far?

A similarly humorous explanation may be appropriate for the conundrum presented in Anderson's "Delenda Est":

"'...the Patrol and the Danellians are wiped out. (Don't ask me why they weren't "always" wiped out; why this is the first time we came back from the far past to find a changed future. I don't understand the mutable-time paradoxes. We just did, that's all.)'"
- Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 187.

I suggested two answers to this not-to-be-asked question in a recent post but the real answer, of course, is that the author has started to write a series about an organization whose job is to prevent time travelers from changing the past so now he is writing a story in which some time travelers have changed the past. (Similarly, Asimov started a series in which Seldon's psychohistorical predictions guided the Foundation, then wrote a story in which the Mule overturned those predictions - but, as I always say, Anderson's historical fiction is far better and moreover is about real history.)

When the Patrol plans its counter-intervention in the pivotal battle, Everard says:

"'...I don't think we can get away with more than two agents actually on the scene. The baddies are going to be alert, you know, looking for counterinterference.'" (p. 222)

This tells us that the action will continue to focus on Everard and his companion for this story, Van Sarawak. Indeed, Everard continues:

"'The Alexandria office can supply Van and me with costumes.'" (ibid.)

Something else that we might notice here is that, as science fiction readers, we are on familiar territory. We already know that, if we intervene in a battle in order to change the course of history, then we need to be alert for any other time travelers trying either to preserve the established course of history or to undo our changes!

The tradition of time travelers possibly observing and interacting with historical battles goes back to a conversation between the Time Traveler's dinner guests.

Memorable Scenes

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

So far, I have mentioned three scenes in "Brave To Be A King" as particularly memorable:

the fight in the forest;
the angelic apparition to Astyages;
Keith Denison's difficult reunion with his wife, Cynthia.

And Sandra Miesel rightly points out that the solstice festival scene is so meaningful that a comprehensive analysis would be longer than it. But the pivotal dramatic scene comes when an enormous, scarlet-robed figure enters a peacock-domed room and bellows three times:

"'Halt! Fall on your faces! The King comes!'" (p. 79)

Even men fighting with swords must stop and hit the floor. A band of the guards called Immortals trots in and makes an alley to the couch. A chamberlain runs in to put a special tapestry over it. The robed Cyrus strides in followed by a few armed courtiers and a hand-wringing slave MC who would have spread a carpet or summoned musicians.

"'Where is the stranger that the slave ran to tell me of?'
"'I am he, Great King,' said Everard.
"'Arise. Declare your name.'
"Everard stood up and murmured: 'Hi, Keith.'" (pp. 80-81)

The truth about the King had "...blazed upon Everard." (p. 78)

- and, when he called for the King, others tried to stop him. Meanwhile, Keith Denison has waited sixteen years for a word from home. That has to be one of the most dramatic scenes in time travel fiction.

Mohenjodaro And Persia

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

"Mohenjodaro" (p. 108), "Mound of the Dead," an archaeological site in Pakistan, was a large early Indus Valley city contemporary with ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Cretan civilizations, abandoned in the 19th century BC and rediscovered in 1922.

Re-encountering this word on rereading "Brave To Be A King," it has just occurred to me to check its meaning. For some reason, agents of the Middle Mohenjodaro office of the Time Patrol often need to disguise themselves with luminous robes, halos and wings of light. Thus, there is at least one milieu in which time travelers presenting themselves as supernatural beings is a regular occurrence.

Everard borrows disguises for use in ancient Persia. At Ecbatana in 578 BC, a timecycle bearing the disguised Everard and Denison crashes through a palace door, terrifying guards and slaves, and approaches the royal bedchamber where Everard knocks with his sword. Now Denison delivers an admirable performance. Everard, assuming that their disguises and violent entry will have made his purpose clear, has neither briefed Denison nor given him any time to prepare a speech. He merely says:

"'Take over, Keith...You know the Median version of Aryan.'" (p. 108)

Denison needs no second bidding:

"'Open, Astyages!...Open to the messengers of Ahuramazda!'" (ibid.)

- and, when the man in the bedroom has come out:

"'O infamous vessel of iniquity, heaven's anger is upon you! Do you believe that your least thought, though it skulk in the darkness which begot it, was ever hidden from the Day's Eye? Do you believe that almighty Ahuramazda would permit a deed so foul as you plot...'" (p. 109)

Everard does not even bother to listen, until the conclusion:

"'...Know, Astyages, that this child Cyrus is favored of heaven. And heaven is merciful: you have been warned that if you stain your soul with his innocent blood, the sin can never be washed away. Leave Cyrus to grow up in Anshan or burn forever with Ahriman! Mithras has spoken!'" (ibid.)

The Patrol ought to present awards for roles performed on missions.

Denison's moral theology is (dare I say it?) heretical. Most higher religions teach that any sin can be washed away. There is a Buddhist story about a mass murderer who became a monk and was then enlightened - eventually.

How Everard Persuades Wanda To Stay in The Time Patrol

Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991).

Wanda wonders whether to go through with Time Patrol training. Everard persuades her.

(i) "'...studying prehistoric life...Earth was a planet fit for the gods...'" (p. 100)

(ii) "' harm to your parents...undercover help you can give them...'" (ibid.); 

(iii) "'- centuries of lifespan...never sick...'" (ibid.);

(iv) "'- friendship...splendid people in our ranks...'" (ibid.);

(v) "'- fun. Experiences.'" (ibid.) - the Parthenon new, Chrysopolis on Mars, pre-Columbian Yellowstone, Columbus' departure, Nijinsky dancing, Garrick playing Lear, Michelangelo painting.

Need it only be centuries of lifespan? In Anderson's World Without Stars and The Boat Of A Million Years, some "immortals" live for millennia and must manage memory accumulation. At the end of Boat, the original immortals agree to reconvene a million years hence but, statistically, they are likely to die by accident before then and, secondly, they cannot possibly be the same people after all that time. They will have had to forget everything or almost everything about their earliest centuries.

I would like to read Time Patrol stories about Pummairam completing his training and beginning active service and also about Everard's thousandth birthday.

How Time Travelers Appear As Gods

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006); The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991).

How often do Time Patrol agents masquerade as supernatural beings - gods, angels or demons? More often than we might think.

(i) Everard's and Whitcomb's Jutish host sends a boy to accompany them to the river. Not wanting to walk that far, Everard calls their timecycle from where it hovers above and tells the boy:

"'Know that thou hast guested Woden and Thunor, who will hereafter guard thy folk from harm.'" (TP, pp. 33-34)

My first thought was that this is irresponsible. The boy, expecting divine protection, will be badly let down when it is not forthcoming. However, that is the wrong mindset. The experience will fade in memory and, in any case, the gods are not believed to be omnipotent.

(ii) Everard and Denison appear as angels to terrorize Astyages and prevent him from ordering the assassination of the infant Cyrus.

(iii) Having warned a Mongol leader that, if he advances any further into North America, then Badguys sorcerors or subtle engineers will annihilate his expedition with thunderbolts, Everard uses a weather control system from the Cold Centuries to generate an impressive lightning display and also projects onto the horizon a giant image of his colleague's Indian war dance. Because the Mongols are undeterred, Everard must later swoop down to kill their horses and burn their ships.

(iv) A shipwreck survivor reports seeing men on flying chariots fighting with flames, an "'...onslaught of demons...'" (TP, p. 313)

(v) Carl Farness accepts that he must appear as Odin to betray his followers. It is written - in the Volsungasaga.

(vi) Janne Floris appears as the goddess Niaerdh to guide her prophetess, Veleda.

(vii) When Time Patrolmen have apprehended a time criminal above the siege of Cuzco, Everard tells one of them, "'...your operation is part of history.'" (TP, p. 727) Apparitions of the Virgin and of St James were reported.

(viii) "To Yuri Alexeievitch Garshin, the captain appeared as an angel from his grandmother's Heaven." (ST, p. 11) This Time Patrol agent claims to be an army captain, not an angel, but would have known how his appearance was likely to affect Garshin psychologically.

(ix) "'You have seen the wrath of Poseidon...'" (ST, p. 114) Thus, Everard explains a Patrol intervention to a witness. Again, he makes promises that he cannot keep but that does not matter. He does give a lot of help when he is able to.

(x) When Paleo-Indians kill the native Beringian, Aryuk, Wanda Tamberly of the Time Patrol takes Aryuk from before his death to after his death so that he can appear to his killers as a ghost, terrifying them into moving on and thus ceasing their oppression of his people.

(xi) Everard appears as an angel to change Lorenzo de Conti's course of action.

(xii) Everard says that Patrol agents in the Middle Mohenjodaro office often disguise themselves with wings and halos.

And, in The Corridors Of Time, a time traveler tells a twentieth century man that she is the Goddess.

By contrast, in "Death And The Knight," the Patrol could extract their imprisoned colleague on a timecycle but must avoid anything that would resemble magic or divine intervention so instead they must stage a robbery and kidnapping.