Friday, 30 September 2016

Records Of What Did Not Happen

This post should be called "Records Of What Did Not Happen In The Current Timeline." Each timeline has three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension. Several of these four-dimensional continua succeed each other along a second temporal dimension.

Some Danellian records state that Charles Whitcomb remained a bachelor and eventually "...was killed on active duty with the Patrol." (Time Patrol, p. 52)

However, in the current timeline, Whitcomb:

retired from the Patrol after a single mission;
married Mary Nelson;
lived with her in Victorian London, starting in 1850;
sometimes thought wistfully about what he had been in the Patrol;
but decided that his wife and children had been worth that sacrifice.

The Whitcombs serve high tea before a cannel fire when visited by Manse Everard. Thus, Charlie retains an indirect contact with the Patrol although his bachelor life and eventual death on active service did not happen in this timeline.

When Everard and Van Sarawak are in the Carthaginian timeline, it is their lives and history that "did not happen." Everard remembers, among other things, his parents, visiting the Whitcombs and:

"...the austere cantos of Dante and the ringing thunder of Shakespeare; the glory which was York Minster and the Golden Gate Bridge -" (p. 184)

York Minster gets a consistently good press in Anderson's works. Later along Everard's world-line, when the Danellian history has been restored:

"Light streamed through the Golden Gate." (p. 746)

When Wanda Tamberly has come dangerously close to breaking the Patrol's Prime Directive, she is shown records of "'...time gone awry...'" (The Shield Of Time, p. 253) which teach her a necessary lesson.

In my opinion, this terminology of successive timelines makes sense of most of what is said about variable reality in the Time Patrol series although it is not the terminology used by the Patrol itself. I would love to learn Temporal and discuss the matter with Patrol agents on their own terms.

A trainer at the Time Patrol Academy states that travel to the past:

"'...involves the concept of infinite-valued relationships in a continuum of 4N dimensions, where N is the total number of particles in the universe.'" (Time Patrol, p. 9)

I think that time travel in an immutable timeline requires no extra dimensions and that time travel in a mutable timeline requires only one extra dimension. However, I am a philosopher, not a physicist. 4N is an enormous number. I think that it assumes a finite universe? Otherwise, N would equal infinity and 4N would also equal infinity? However, even if 4N is finite, it is a large enough number to incorporate not only the many successive timelines of the Time Patrol universe but also, in some other part of the multi-dimensional framework, the many coexisting timelines that have access to the Old Phoenix Inn.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I absolutely agree with the good press Poul Anderson gives to York Minster. I've visited the cathedral myself and I completely agree with Manse in calling it glorious.

And the mention of Dante is another piece of evidence helping to make me believe PA has read the DIVINE COMEDY.