Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Time Gates

Poul Anderson, The Corridors of Time (London, 1968).

Within a time corridor, each gate is at least two hundred feet wide and they average half a mile apart. Outside a corridor, the gate exists for twenty five years and is about ten feet wide. At the end of its twenty five years, each gate disappears but another appears about two centuries later.

Within a corridor, parallel black lines extend a short distance from each gate. At the head of each line is an inscription in either the Warden or the Ranger alphabet. About every ten feet, there is also an Arabic number. Having entered the Danish corridor from 1964, Malcolm Lockridge reads 4950, 4951, 4952...

At another gate, Storm and Lockridge walk in single file but with linked hands into the gate along the line numbered 1175 and emerge in 1827 BC. Checking the exact date on a calender clock in the foreroom, Storm ascertains that they have arrived in late spring. Because of the width of the human body, there is an uncertainty factor of about two months.

Later, Lockridge remembering that 1175 was 1827 BC, travels along the corridor until he sees the numbers 4500 and upwards and does his best to emerge in 1535 AD. He wants to arrive shortly before All Hallows Eve but would such precision be possible - even if there were no body-width uncertainty factor?

Weak though my grasp of arithmetic is, I have confirmed the figures. This, like the road trip through Denmark, is one of the many details that I just read past on previous readings of the novel.

Addendum: Those who maintain a corridor must remove the contents of an antechamber, mainly the calender clock and period costumes, after twenty five years and construct a new, fully equipped antechamber for each new gate as it appears?

No comments: