Saturday, 24 September 2016

Flypaper And Vanished Worlds

See John Steinbeck quotation here.

"'The flies have conquered the flypaper,' she quoted."
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Seventeen, p. 251.

"I wish I could quote that great line of Steinbeck's, about the flies having conquered the flypaper."
-Poul Anderson, "Star of the Sea" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), 16, p. 606.

A great line? What does it mean? An army has conquered a country but has got bogged down in it?

The beautiful young princess speaks four languages:

"...and a bit of what seemed to be a very archaic form of Sanskrit." (Against The Tide..., p. 253)

"Ian...was working on a history of the Indo-European languages in his spare time. He would be working even harder on it if there were some way of publishing in the vanished world uptime. Not many people on the Island were interested." (ibid., p. 254)

A vanished world! We recognize "uptime" as Time Patrol terminology.

"Had the weather been the same this day in the destroyed world?"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield of Time (New York, 1991), p. 356.

A destroyed world! Thus time travelers think of timelines that they have left behind.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I think Steinbeck crafted a very good line there: "The flies have conquered the flypaper." And I did understand that line to mean, in AGAINST THE TIDE OF YEARS, the danger of the Babylonians/Nantucketers getting stretched too thin/bogged down simply trying to keep some sort of order as the Assyrian kingdom fell apart into bloody chaos.

    Dang! I wish I had realized Stirling's use of "uptime" was taken from Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories!


    1. Sean,
      Well, I thought it was. Someone out there might know better...

    2. Paul and Sean:
      Eric Flint, in the *Ring of Fire* series, uses it in the same way. I don't know where Flint got it, or if he came up with the phrasing on his own.


      Ian Wallace, in *Croyd* (1967) and its sequels, used "uptime" and "downtime" in exactly the REVERSE way. His analogy was to the flow of a river: as "upstream" is where the river flows from on its way to "downstream," "uptime" is the past and "downtime" the future.

    3. David,
      You know some very obscure authors!

    4. Kaor, David!

      I like your explanation of "uptime" and "downtime". It's reasonable to think some authors will come up with the same terms despite possibly not having read each other's works.

      And Eric Flint may well have read some of John Steinbeck's books, after all.


    5. Paul:
      True, but every once in a while gems can be found in the obscure places....