Saturday, 6 August 2016

Pre-Anderson Time Travel

HG Wells wrote not only The Time Machine but also "The Chronic Argonauts" which featured, or maybe even introduced, the circular causality paradox. See here. In several ways, Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series is like an updated The Time Machine:

the Patrol's timecycles are like modernized or futuristic versions of the nineteenth century contraption, retaining the feature that the time traveler sits on, not inside of, the vehicle;

humanity evolves into Danellians instead of devolving into Morlocks and Eloi;

the series addresses the curious possibilities of anachronism and of utter confusion that Wells had only hinted at;

Patrol members deliberately close causal circles in order to prevent causality violations;

Wells never wrote a sequel whereas Anderson created an increasingly elaborate series;

Manse Everard's first mission as a Time Patrol agent takes him initially to the year in which The Time Machine was published.

If nothing else, read The Time Machine, then Time Patrol.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    It would be interesting to know if H.G. Wells ever wrote any letters or essays discussing his views and speculations about time traveling and its implications and possibilities.

    Unfortunately, ten or so years after pub. THE TIME MACHINE Wells turned away from writing SF to writing largely forgotten political tracts. Oh, well!


    1. Sean,
      Wells "sold his birthright for a pot of message."

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Ha! Neat pun on the Biblical line! And, yes, it was all too true and apt! I wonder who coined it?

      FORTUNATELY, Poul Anderson did not make that mistake in, say, 1960. He stuck to what he did truly well: science fiction and fantasy. Not that he couldn't write interestingly about politics (and war), as we saw in his THERMONUCLEAR WARFARE. But he made sure to focus on writing what he did best.


    3. Sean,
      CS Lewis quoted it. I wondered if the pun applied to Lewis as well but he keeps writing good fiction even while preaching in RANSOM and NARNIA.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      Aha! Interesting, CS Lewis was quoting somebody else, who also regretted how Wells turned from SF to writing partisan political tracts.

      Yes, Lewis could write good SF or fantasy, even if the "message" was too obvious. Poul Anderson was more subtle: he definitely had views and beliefs, but he was able to INTEGRATE them unobtrusively into his works. AND was fair about opposing views.