Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Back To Babylon

We recently visited Babylon, in the imagination, in:

Against The Tide Of Years by SM Stirling;
The Shield Of Time by Poul Anderson;
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

See Babylon, Babylon II, Meeting In Babylon and Meeting In Babylon II.

Here is an earlier reference to Babylonians. So the Time Patrol not only had a base in a secret vault under Babylon. It also recruited some Babylonians - but time travel was not in their worldview so they had to be given a battle-of-the-gods routine. What did the Babylonians do in the Patrol? Did they fight Neldorians on some future battlefield in the mistaken belief that they were fighting demons or rival gods in a supernatural realm?

When the Academy trainer replied to Whitcomb that the "routine" given to recruits from the 1850-2000 period was the truth - as much of it as they could take -, I did not expect that the series would ever reveal any more of the truth. However, The Shield Of Time does eventually disclose that the ultimate purpose of the Patrol goes way beyond policing other time travelers. The Patrol is the anti-chaotic stabilizing element of temporal reality.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Most likely, the Babylonians recruited by the Time Patrol were agents in place, who continued to live where they were born, to assist Patrol agents from other times.

Yes, I agree that thinking of the Patrol as "...the anti-chaotic stabilizing element of temporal reality" deepens and enlarges the story. But, what of time traveling on OTHER planets? How could the Patrol prevent chaos from "breaking loose" on those worlds? Are we to assume the Time Patrol operated on an interstellar scale, not just this single planet Earth? I think David suggested this, and added that the difficulty of trying to write coherent Time Patrol stories on an interstellar scale was too much even for Poul Anderson.