Friday, 5 August 2016

Understated Drama

Poul Anderson achieves dramatic effects in understated ways:

he tells us the real historical significance of the Knights Templar, including wealth accumulation and banking, but does not make them a front for the Time Patrol or for anything even more exotic;

his time wars, between the Patrol and the Neldorians or the Exaltationists, are fought with swords on historical battlefields, not with blasters or lasers in multidimensional spacetime;

one battle determines whether Everard and his colleagues will be able to return to their remembered version of history or will be compelled to remain in an alternative timeline.

There could be a story about a Patrolman who was stranded in the Punic timeline "after" the Patrol had deleted it. ("...after...," of course, refers to a second temporal dimension at right angles to the first.)

In SM Stirling's Island In The Sea Of Time, the Nantucket expeditionary force attacks William Walker's kingdom in England for the usual sorts of reasons. They must attack before Walker becomes strong enough to attack them. They want peaceful trade, not armed conflict, with Europe. Their battles will determine the future of this new timeline that they now inhabit but will not affect any other timelines.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree with you on why Nantucket attacked Walker's embryonic kingdom, because of the very reasonable fear it would become a threat to them if allowed to exist and become strong. And Walker deserved to be attacked because he ruled too darn much like a Draka!

I think it's only fair to say of even Walker that he accepted some limits on what he could do. I remember him thinking or saying that if Namtucket would leave him alone he would not bother it. Again, that might have been possible if Walker had not been so fond of slavery and nasty methods of punishment (and having Alice Hong for a hencewoman).

But of course it made for a more dramatic story for Stirling to make William Walker as we him; and not more like, say, Manuel Argos (a far more positive and beneficial ruler!).