Saturday, 10 September 2016

Like A Match In The Wind II

See here.

All of this discussion of time travel is relevant to several works by Poul Anderson, of course, and Anderson explores every option. The two basic premises are "the past can be changed" and "the past cannot be changed." The "can be changed" premise causes endless confusion and can be rationalized in several different ways. See here.

Anderson's Time Patrol series:

is superb historical sf;
presents the circular causality paradox within a causality violation scenario;
in fact, shows the Patrol completing causal circles in order to prevent causality violations;
is subtle in its presentation of paradoxes so that any incoherencies are not immediately apparent;
is ambiguous - is there a single discontinuous timeline or a single mutable timeline or are there divergent timelines?

Everard's language alternates between discontinuity and mutability but, in "Star of the Sea," he refers to a fork in events, which implies divergence.

Back in Nantucket:

"...presumably they were still - the word made no sense, but English grammar wasn't well adapted to time travel - all right, up in the twentieth."
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Three, p. 39.

The Nantucketers need the Time Patrol language, Temporal.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I also remember the arguments you made, including to Poul Anderson, that timelines "deleted" by the Time Patrol, were not snuffed out, destroyed, never existed at all, etc. Rather, they continued to exist but became inaccessible to the Patrol. So, any agents or travelers from the timeline guarded by the Patrol who got left in such inaccessible had to live there permanently.

    But I had another "thot" (smiles), what happened to travelers in say, the Carthaginian timeline of "Delenda Est" who had time cycles? It seems logical to think they continued to travel to the past and future of that universe. With no Time Patrol to check and supervise them, I can easily imagine how chaotic it soon became "there."

    I'm a slow reader, but I'm finally getting near the end of AGAINST THE TIDE OF YEARS, 17 more pages to go. Then I want to get a copy of Stirling's new book PRINCE OF OUTCASTS and read Anderson's THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS.


    1. Sean,
      The thought of time travelers moving back and forth within the Carthaginian timeline complicates the matter beyond anyone's ability to analyze it.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Exactly! And the same applies to any of the timelines "delete" in THE SHIELD OF TIME. I'm sure such complexities explains why Poul Anderson never attempted to set a Time Patrol story in an INTERSTELLAR situation, grappling with a problem on other planets. Trying to make a coherent story like THAT strained too far even the genius of Anderson.