Saturday, 6 August 2016

Other Time Travel Fiction

We appreciate Poul Anderson's time travel fiction by comparing and contrasting it with the best of such fiction by other authors.

CS Lewis discusses and dismisses the idea of physical time travel in "The Dark Tower."

Since the Time Patrol series is partly about time travelers trying to change history, important pre-Anderson works are:

A Connecticut Yankee by Mark Twain;
Lest Darkness Fall by L Sprague de Camp -

- and Bring The Jubilee by Ward Moore was contemporary with "Time Patrol."

We cannot, even if we had wanted to, avoid consideration of Robert Heinlein:

Circular Causality
"By His Bootstraps" (1941)
The Door Into Summer (1956)
"-All You Zombies-" (1959)

Parallel Timelines
Farnham's Freehold (1964)

The "Da Capo" of the Future History
Time Enough For Love (1973)

Heinlein perfected the circular causality paradox, as also did Anderson in The Corridors Of Time and There Will Be Time. Time Enough For Love has some interesting time travel ideas but unfortunately focuses on incest. The application of time travel narrows down to enabling Lazarus Long to meet his mother as a young woman.

Other major works on circular causality are:

The Technicolor Time Machine by Harry Harrison
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

SM Stirling's works describe:

parallel timelines;
travel between parallel timelines;
travel from the future of the Draka timeline to the present of a timeline like ours;
travel from the 1998 A.D. of one timeline to the 1250 B.C. of another.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I've not read Mark Twain's CONNECTICUT YANKEE, but one point I remember commentators making was how Twain seemed to have only contempt for the early Medieval period. Heavens knows there was much, much to despise in that period, but also much, much to respect. And Twain apparently did not make any such distinction.

By contrast, L. Sprague De Camp's LEST DARKNESS FALL, which I have read, seems more sympathetic in some ways to the early Medieval period, without denying it's flaws.

Ward Moore's BRING THE JUBILEE was fun to read!

And I gave up on Heilein's later works! Because of his wearisome obsessions with sex and incest. I read I WILL NO EVIL twice before I finally gave up on the book. Fascinating plot idea ruined by Heinlein's tedious obsessions.

Read the Harrison and Powers books, but not the other two.

I agree with what you said about Stirling's books.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Something I should have said about Stirling's ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME: I'm sure the AD 1998 of that book was OUR real world 1998. While writing ISLAND Stirling did thorough research on Nantucket, and changed the names of some of the people he met and interviewed for the book, some characters being composites, but I'm still sure that was our 1998 and Nantucket.


David Birr said...

James Hogan's *Giants' Trilogy* hypothesizes circular causality in the epilogue to the third book: the enemy in that book were descendants of sore losers from a devastating war millennia ago. An accident as they're trying to escape justice in the present, one scientist believes, has flung them much FARTHER back in time to become the ancestors of THEIR ancestors ... and CAUSE the war with their grudge over being chased into the past.

Harry Harrison's *The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World* likewise reveals circular causality at the end: the villain attacked Slippery Jim diGriz because he wanted revenge for Jim defeating his attack, which Jim wouldn't have managed if the attack never took place. "Where did this information come from originally? From yourself. So you sent it to yourself in order to send it to yourself...."

Paul Shackley said...

Harrison's THE TECHNICOLOR TIME MACHINE is a very good circular causality novel.