Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Spy Fiction II

Let's stay with this line of thought (Spy Fiction) for a while longer. I first read Poul Anderson's Guardians Of Time in the early 1960s. My entire worldview has changed since then. When I read:

"Everard...got a list of contemporary agents (several of them holding jobs in places like military intelligence)..." (Time Patrol, p. 16) -

- I thought, "Military intelligence good guys; Time Patrol good guys; no possibility of any conflict of interest." But, of course, the Patrol would have had to have agents in every intelligence service. If the US was destined to lose a particular war and if a CIA man who was also a Patrol agent acquired intelligence that might affect the outcome of that war, then he would be obliged to conceal the intelligence from his colleagues. Moving back from the Cold War period, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 would have to happen on schedule. Suddenly, it does not look an easy matter to be a Patrol agent. When Everard says that he will enlist with the invaders of Bactria, fellow Patrolman Chandrakumar, who lives among and studies the Bactrians, seems unhappy. (The Shield Of Time, p. 55)

Would there be periods when Patrol agents used methods that we would regard as morally unacceptable? Once, Everard considers assassination. But so, I believe, do our intelligence services...

SM Stirling's Nantucketers have it easier. They accept that they have already changed history and have no reason not to change it further. Also, their opponent has no moral restraints and they are entitled to turn history inside out to stop his slave empire.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Exactly! There were times when agents of the Time Patrol had to do or not do things that caused the deaths of people. Information which, if decisively acted on might have prevented Nine Eleven. Instead, hypothetically, agents of the Time Patrol used the infamously bureaucratic "wall of separation" preventing US law enforcement and intelligence agencies from sharing information. All in order to preserve the historical line of development leading to the Danellians. Oh yes, I can easily see many Patrol agents being deeply troubled by this!

Assassination? Would that always be bad? It depends! Catholic theologians have debated the issue of tyrannicide and when it would be morally licit to depose or kill an unjust or usurping ruler. There seems to be good arguments on both sides of the question!