Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Time War Cynicism

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

When the Wardens assemble an army of sixteenth century Englishmen to fight in the second millennium BC, the Warden Mareth, who plays the role of a Catholic priest, preaches:

"'Go you bravely forward, in God's name, and those who outlive the day shall have rich reward, while those who fall shall be even more richly rewarded in Heaven. Kneel, now, and receive absolution.'
"Lockridge went through the ritual with a bad taste in his mouth. Was this much cynicism necessary?" (p. 119)

Cynicism indeed. The warrior's reward in Heaven is still invoked in the twenty first century. If Mareth's preparation for his role included the receiving of baptism, confirmation and ordination, then his orders and his absolution are, in the beliefs of his congregation, valid. But, even if not, their confession of their sins is not impaired by his dishonesty. Meanwhile, the same man leads a heathen Coven in Denmark.

We are left in no doubt that neither side in the time war is worthy of support. Like Jack Havig in There Will Be Time, Lockridge must learn what he can from his recruiters, then go his own way when he sees what needs to be done.

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