Tuesday, 25 February 2014

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.

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