Thursday, 27 February 2014

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.

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