Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Wanda Tamberly asks Manson Everard why the Exaltationists try to change history. He replies:

"'...to abort the whole future. Make themselves overlords...'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 718.

But he adds:

"'Not that I think they could long have stayed in charge. Selfishness like that generally turns on itself. Battles through time, a chaos of changes - I wonder how much flux the space-time fabric could survive...How does it feel knowing you may have saved the universe?'" (pp. 718-719)

This and the concluding chapter of The Shield Of Time, "1990 A.D.," are the only indications that the Time Patrol's activities may have a cosmic significance. But why should the space-time fabric not survive flux? Larry Niven argues in "The Theory and Practice of Time Travel," that, in a scenario where time travel is possible and where the past can be changed, there will be no time travel because some time traveler will prevent it. But there is no reason why the universe should not survive all the changes made by time travelers until the change that prevents time travel. Each timeline is complete in itself and has the same mass-energy as any other.

When Everard arrests the last Exaltationist, Raor, he asks her what they would have done with the universe. She confirms his prediction of battles through time but adds that this would be a deliberate policy:

"'We would have made it what we chose, and unmade and remade it, and stormed the stars as we warred for possession, with an entire reality the funeral pyre of each who fell and entire histories the funeral games, until the last god reigned alone.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 118.

Raor envisages neither Anderson's space-time destroyed by flux nor Niven's timeline without time travel but a new history ruled by a single Exaltationist.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

What Raor envisages shows callous cruelty towards the inhabitants of the "realities" she and her fellow Exaltationists would have perpetrated, making and unmaking whole universes. Universes whose inhabitants were casually snuffed out over and over again--who would never even have known they were snuffed out! Her dream of being as a God, as God Himself, is a logical and quite insane impossibility.