Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Luxurious Living

How do unscrupulous time travelers see fit to conduct themselves in earlier periods?

"...two Helvetian mercenaries had joined Hannibal in the Alps and won his confidence. After the war, they had risen to high positions in Carthage. Under the names of Phrontes and Himilco, they had practically run the government, engineered Hannibal's murder, and set new records for luxurious living."
-Poul Anderson, "Delenda Est" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 173-228 AT p. 221.

But that did not happen in our history! A Time Patrol spy reports:

"'The fellows looked to me like Neldorians, two-hundred-fifth millennium.'" (ibid.)

- and that their homes had:

"'A lot of improvements that hadn't been thought of in Classical times.'" (ibid.)

Similarly, SM Stirling's William Walker rules an ancient society not, initially, by overthrowing its king (of whom we have also heard, Agamemnon) but by helping him against his enemies. Like the Neldorians, Walker imports military and domestic innovations and lives luxuriously. His lieutenant, Bill Cuddy, has:

"'Gold, girls, all the comforts of home, within reason...'"
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Six, p. 99 -

- and remarks:

"'Easy to get used to this sort of thing...
"'Like, getting laid whenever you want, for example.'" (p. 100)

But Cuddy does not understand the need to continue conquering new territory. Walker understands that conquerors must keep moving forward in order not to be pushed backward.

It is strange to think that, for over a decade, "Delenda Est" was the culmination of the Time Patrol series. Fortunately, Anderson considerably lengthened the series and added a greater culmination.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The point is, Bill Cuddy was a SATED, satisfied conqueror. He had achieved all he had wanted and was willing to be content with that.

It was more complicated with William Walker, I agree! He had made bitter and permanent enemies of the Nantucketers, who were bound and determined to BREAK him. That alone would force him to continue conquering. Also, of course, he wanted to continue to conquer.

The thought I've had in my mind was wondering if Walker and King Isketerol of Tartessos stuck too soon at Nantucket. I think they should have delayed war with Nantucket as long as possible. Isketerol, in particular, should have done everything possible, within limits, to placate Nantucket. A delay of several more years would have given both more time to build up their strength and to consolidate their positions. "Peace" to his west would also delay Walker needing to fight a two front war (with the Islanders in the west and the Islanders and their Babylonian and Hittite allies in the east.

Plus, of course, my view is that Walker brought a lot of his own troubles on him by ruling so much like a Draka! I don't think he NEEDED to introduce things like crucifixions and massive use of slavery. And, of course, he should not have given Alice Hong a free hand for practicing her sadism and ideology of pain and torture.


Paul Shackley said...

You have said it all.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks! And I hope further thoughts will occur to me as I read your own comments on Stirling's AGAINST THE TIDE OF YEARS. Also, William Walker, while a brute, was also a smart brute. From time to time you will see him thinking over his mistakes and trying to learn from them. Including taking out "insurance" in case things again went wrong (for him). Again, thinking very much like a Draka!