Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bactria, 209 AD

Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), pp. 17-25.

Economic assessment: the stone houses are small but many so the country is rich.

The capital city, Bactra:

smoke and noise from behind tall, turreted, seven mile perimeter walls above river docks;
settlements in land kept clear for defense;
traffic entering and leaving through great, guarded gates;
a Scythian Gate, a Sacred Way and a temple of Anaitis, that goddess identified with Aphrodite Ourania;
Iranian and Greek inhabitants;
crowded streets between vividly painted buildings;
Anderson, as ever, lengthily lists people, sounds, smells, public buildings and market stalls;
sidewalks and stepping stones as signs of Greek civilization.

And now we are given a time traveler's perspective:

"To Everard the scene was eerily half-familiar. He had witnessed its like in a score of different lands, in as many different centuries. Each was unique, but a prehistorically ancient kinship vibrated in them all." (p. 24)

I did not know that Everard was quite that widely traveled. We have missed a lot of his career. It rings true that ancient cities would have much in common but not every writer would realize that. How many cities, ancient, modern and alternative, does the Time Patrol series describe?

New York, London, Pasargadae, Bactra, Tyre, Amsterdam, Paris...

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