Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Flight Without End

Poul Anderson, "Flight to Forever" IN Anderson, Past Times (New York, 1984), pp. 207-288.

For three million years after Brontothor, the time projector is on a seabed. After four million years, it is in a city of gigantic changing structures, forces and energies, where a telepathic voice tells Saunders that he must go on to beyond the end of the universe and says that it will change the time projector which then becomes airtight with unbreakable windows and increases its speed to millions of years per minute.

Unnecessarily, Saunders stops twice to look outside before the projector is again under water, then inside a mountain. When the mountain has eroded, Saunders sees the dead Earth under the same large red sun that the Time Traveler had seen but Saunders keeps going. Billions of years later, there is maximum entropy outside the projector.

In the twenty plus lines of text between the universe dying and reforming, Saunders screams, lies in a coma and eats a sandwich. "Flight to Forever" is the Tau Zero of time travel. Leaping beyond the Big Bang, he finds himself on a molten planet, then in rain falling on bare rocks in an as yet unbreathable atmosphere. He passes through seas, jungles and Ice Ages before he recognizes the Moon and realizes that he is coming home.

I hope that I have communicated the immensity of Poul Anderson's vision by summarizing just some of the plot.

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