Friday, 5 August 2016

Crosstemporal Gatherings

The Time Patrol Lodge in the Pleistocene Pyrenees employs Cro-Magnons. Two Patrol Specialists live among Beringians. In both of these cases, time travelers openly interact with prehistorical populations in ways that do not affect later history. Visiting a much earlier period of a single timeline might be like visiting an antipodean continent on a single planet. There is no direct contact between the populations but they might be linked by long distance travelers.

In SM Stirling's Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998), at the Nantucketer's Fort Pentagon in England:

"There were as many Americans as locals in the bustle." (p. 547)

However, this is more like an interplanetary gathering. The Americans have not only crossed the Atlantic but also, before that, traveled from the future of a different timeline although most of the locals do not need to be told, and would in any case not understand, that.

The scene is described in colorful detail:

sounds - boots, wheels, hooves;
smells - stale water, woodsmoke, horse sweat, leather, cooking, dung;
locals - war chiefs, traders, porters, laborers, the curious, tattooed men from Ireland.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But we do see Isketerol being told or discovering that the Nantucketers came from the future of a now divergent timeline. A concept, like clocks and the "zero," had great difficulty grasping.

And these background lists of colorful details that Stirling gives us is almost certainly one of those "themes and tropes" he learned from reading and studying Poul Anderson's works. And I'm glad he uses italics for showing us the interior thoughts of his characters. Better than using a plain font.