Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Social Changes: Computers, Women And Glasnost

Personal Computers

In 1990, Everard retires to his study:

"He didn't let many contemporary people in here. When it happened, they were apt to tell him how much better off he'd be with their brand of personal computer. He'd say, 'I'll look into it,' and change the subject. Most of what they saw on his desk was dummy." (The Shield of Time, p. 177)

Two observations:

in 1954, of course, Everard's acquaintances would not have had personal computers and, if he were to use one back then, it would have had to be well concealed:

"...if you based yourself in a milieu before the technology to overleap space-time was developed, you didn't keep any future stuff around that you didn't absolutely require, and you kept it hidden or well disguised." (pp. 177-178);

secondly, the PC that Everard does use in 1990 seems to be voice-controlled:

"'Give me the file to present date on Specialist Wanda Tamberly,' he ordered, adding sufficient information to identify." (p. 177)


Everard says:

"I'm trying to unlearn. Ladies these days have snapped my head off for being condescending, when I thought I was just being polite.'" (pp. 179-180)

Wanda comments:

"'I suppose it can be harder to keep track of your birth century than to learn your way around in a whole past civilization." (p. 180)

"He implies that sheer accident - whether a given man does or does not die in a battle - can decide the whole future. That this can be published, and prominently, is a minor sensation itself. It is an early example of the glasnost that M. Gorbachev is proclaiming." (p. 75)

Two observations:

glasnost is a political change and a topical reference that Everard would have known of in 1954 but that Anderson was not able to refer to back then;

whether a man dies in battle does decide the whole future later in this volume.

I thought that there was another social change to refer to...

Quiz question: which four characters are in both Time Patrol volumes?


  1. Paul:
    In answer to your quiz, and without checking the books, I say: Everard, Keith and Cynthia Denison, and Wanda Tamberly -- Wanda only because "The Year of the Ransom" got included in *Time Patrol*.

    Your remark about the voice-activated "PC" reminded me of the *Star Trek* episode "Assignment: Earth," where the alien-trained agent trying to keep the 20th Century from collapsing in nuclear war had a computer that responded to his voice -- and argued with him. "Computer, I warn you; I have little love for Beta-Five snobbery!"

    1. David,
      You got 3 out of 4. Cynthia is only in TIME PATROL.
      In an ST film, Scotty, while in the 20th century, tries to converse with a computer.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Re your quiz question: off the top of my head I suggest Everard, Keith, Wanda, and Guion.


    3. Paul:
      Oh, for crying out loud — I'm an imbecile. There's a flashback in Part II of *The Shield of Time* — Everard talks with Merau Varagan just shortly after capturing him in "Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks." I had to go to the book to confirm it after I developed the nagging feeling that Varagan made a cameo appearance.

      Re the *ST* movie, yeah, and he mistook the mouse for a microphone, and then called using a keyboard "quaint" — but wow, his fingers FLEW as he typed in commands....

    4. David,
      You have now answered all 4 correctly.

    5. Kaor, David!

      Dang! You did what I should have done: check out THE SHIELD OF TIME. (Smiles)