Saturday, 24 September 2016

Temporal Scenery

When we travel by land, sea or air or through space, we see what is around us so what is the scenery for a time traveler?

(i) On a Time Patrol timecycle, or if you are Audrey Niffeneger's Henry DeTamble, you see nothing because the jump is instantaneous.

(ii) In the TARDIS, you see only the inside of the TARDIS.

(iii) In Poul Anderson's time projector, you also see a featureless grayness through the porthole.

(iv) Anderson's Wardens and Rangers see the corridor that they walk or drive along.

(v) SM Stirling's Nantucketers see a dome of fire above the island.

(vi) Wells' Time Traveler and Anderson's psychic time travelers, including Jack Havig, see their environment fast forwarding or rewinding, thus real temporal scenery. See here.

Havig says:

"'I...will myself backward or forward in time...
"'I'm in a shadow world while I time-travel. Lighting varies from zero to gray. If I'm crossing more than one day-and-night period, it flickers. Objects look dim, foggy, flat...No air reaches me on my way. I have to hold my breath, and emerge occasionally for a lungful if the trip takes that long in my personal time.'"
-Poul Anderson, There Will Be Time (New York, 1973), IV, p. 37.

The Time Traveler recounts:

"'...night followed day like the flapping of a black wing...'" (p. 24);
the dimly seen laboratory fell away;
the sun hopped across the sky every minute;
scaffolding came and went;
the twinkling succession of day and night was painful to the eye;
the moon span through its quarters;
the circling stars were faintly glimpsed;
night and day became a single grayness;
the sky became deep blue;
the sun became a brilliant arch, the moon a fainter band;
the stars became an occasionally glimpsed brighter circle;
"'The landscape was misty and vague...'"' (p. 25);
trees grew and changed like vapor;
huge buildings rose faint and fair and passed away;
the Earth's surface melted and flowed;
the sun arch swayed between solstices in a minute or less;
white snow and green spring alternated;
great and splendid architecture arose, massive but of glimmer and mist;
richer green flowed up the hill;
winters ceased;
the Traveler is "'...attenuated -...slipping like a vapour through the interstices of intervening substances!'" (p. 26)

HG Wells, The Time Machine (London, 1973), 4 "Time Travelling."

How much slips through our interstices? Neutrinos, dark energy and what or who else?

The Time Machine is a future history of sorts. The Time Traveler fast forwards hundreds of thousands of years, then stops for a few days and deduces that humanity has devolved into Morlocks and Eloi, whereas Anderson instead presents evolution into Danellians.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I've thought of a few comments about Poul Anderson's THERE WILL BE TIME. HOW does Havig and other "genetic" time travelers know when and where they want to go? Do they have to stop from time to time to find out "when" they are? And then move either forwards or backwards?

As for Havig and other time travelers in THERE WILL BE TIME needing to stop occasionally to breathe, that seems needless. Is any mention made of Havig or enemies of the Eyre making use of air tanks? That would lessen the need for stopping to catch one's breath.


Paul Shackley said...

These questions are addressed and answered in the text.
By contrast, the Time Traveler has no problems with breathing.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I now have a vague recollection of Havig or one of his friends inventing a kind of time traveling clock telling them how "far" they had gone in time. It's been a long time since I last reread THERE WILL BE TIME.

I'm surprised H.G. Wells never thought of the problems his Time Traveler might have BREATHING while using the time machine.