Sunday, 20 November 2016

Pehistoric Progress

When Babylon is allied with the Nantucket time travelers, prisoners are not sold but settled on land watered by canals cut by steam-dredges, where they are mixed with natives and supervised by newly appointed tenant-farmers. More camels are bought and bred and men trained to handle them because they carry bigger loads at lower costs than donkeys.

Society is complex and interconnected. Systematic improvements, as opposed to random alterations, in ancient society would require the application of knowledge and technology, not just the assassination of a single ruler or the reversal of the outcome of a single battle. SM Stirling shows us this process occurring. His Nantucketers and their allies follow the lead of Martin Padway, who prevents the Dark Ages in L Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall, and their entire project would be prohibited by Poul Anderson's Time Patrol if that organization had existed in this timeline.

Anderson wrote novels in which time travelers cannot change the past and a series in which they are prevented from changing the past but no work (?) in which anyone succeeds in changing the past - except the Neldorians whose alteration is undone by Time Patrollers. There is no Anderson work in which the good guys change the past and it stays changed.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

S.M. Stirling has given some thought to the implications of throwing a late 20th century town like Nantucket into the distant past. I remember some characters hoping their "native" timeline was not deleted or erased by them, that they had started a separate, different timeline. An "alternate universe."

Also, if something like the Nantucket Incident had occurred in Anderson's Time Patrol series, of course the Patrol, by the logic of their own Prime Directive, would have "deleted" the Nantucket timeline. But, you have convincingly argued such timelines were not truly erased, they merely splitted off from the timeline guarded by the Patrol and became inaccessible.