Monday, 24 February 2014

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.

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