Friday, 30 September 2016

Time Patrol Generations

"Gibraltar Falls" confirms yet again that Manse Everard was recruited to the Time Patrol in 1954 which means that it was a mistake, maybe on Everard's part, when he thought "1957" in "The Year Of The Ransom." Tom Namura was recruited in 1972, which makes him a contemporary of one of Everard's class-mates. 1850-2000 is regarded as a single period by the Patrol although there are major cultural differences within it. Dard Kelm recommends the hunting around the Academy whereas Wanda Tamberly hunts animals only with a camera, not with a gun.

On the gap between 1954 and 1972, Nomura reflects:

"The upheavals of that generation were bubble pops against what had happened before and what would happen after." (Time Patrol, p. 114)

Carl Farness was young in the 1960's and 70's but a doctor on the Moon in 2319 tells him that moral fashions come and go. Everard and Nomura were not in the same class at the Academy. When they meet, Nomura is twenty five and newly graduated whereas Everard is a veteran. Nomura suspects that Everard has seen enough existence to become more foreign to him than someone born two millennia later than either of them.

Longevity treatment, endless time travel, memories of deleted timelines, always returning to home base immediately after leaving it, knowledge of the future, a career apparently without any retirement, eventually moving to another milieu and then another - surely, after all that, an Unattached agent of the Time Patrol would no longer be human?

Ordinary Time Patrol Members

Apparently, most Time Patrol members time travel only on holiday:

"'Your work will be mostly in your own eras, unless you graduate to unattached status. You will live, on the whole, ordinary lives, family and friends as usual; the secret part of those lives will have the satisfactions of good pay, protection, occasional vacations in some very interesting places, supremely worthwhile work. But you will always be on call. Sometimes you will help time travelers who have gotten into difficulties, one way or another.'" (Time Patrol, pp. 11-12)

Cynthia Denison is a clerk in Engineering Studies Co. Carl Farness' wife is not in the Patrol. Do all these ordinary members and relatives receive the longevity treatment? Dard Kelm does not mention it here. He goes on to say:

"'Sometimes you will work on missions, the apprehension of would-be political or military or economic conquistadors." (p. 12)

That does sound like missions through time? We have plenty of conquistadors in the 1850-2000 period but none that have come from other times - I don't think - unless the Patrol has managed to cover them up. Any ordinary conquistadors who are successful have to be protected by the Patrol.

"'Sometimes the Patrol will accept damage as done, and work instead to set up counteracting influences in later periods which will swing history back to the desired track.'" (ibid.)

That sounds like work well beyond the range of ordinary members. It also sounds highly questionable. Does it imply that some major historical event did not happen as we think it did but the Patrol controlled the consequences, including historical records, so that the event has been changed but not subsequent events?

The Future Becomes The Past

The opening story of Robert Heinlein's Future History is set in 1955. That was then the future. In fact, it is the year in which the opening story of Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series was published. For a discussion of these two series, see here. At the Time Patrol Academy, Manse Everard is from 1954 whereas one of his class-mates is from 1972. That was then the future.

We have passed 1984 and 2001 and also lesser known future dates like 1964, when Fred Hoyle's Black Cloud arrived. I look forward to 2018 because Year 2018! is an alternative title of James Blish's Cities In Flight, Volume I, They Shall Have Stars.

Poul Anderson set the opening installments of his major future history, the History of Technic Civilization, slightly further into the future so that they would not be superseded in the life-times of current readers. I used to visit a shop where a picture of a cock crowing proclaimed, "Today was tomorrow yesterday!" One Star Trek episode recycled 2018 as a significant date in early interstellar travel and an episode about time travel had the evocative title, "Tomorrow Is Yesterday."

Poul Anderson, Neil Gaiman And Time Travel

I have mentioned many parallels between Poul Anderson and Neil Gaiman but not that Gaiman also wrote about time travel.

See:

Time Travel In The Books Of Magic
Time Travel In The Books Of Magic II
Time Travel In The Books Of Magic III
A Little More On Time Travel 

There are more differences than similarities. Anderson's time travel fiction is prose hard sf. Gaiman's is graphic fantasy set in a shared universe that had already incorporated a future history and time travel. In a four volume story, Tim Hunter (a British schoolboy who is a powerful magician, wearing glasses and with a pet owl) is shown magic past, present, future and in the far realms. Thus, in the past, he meets Merlin; in the Land of Summer's Twilight, Titania. When he ventures into the sometimes Wellsian future, paradoxical questions arise which I have tried to address. See the above links.

I think that time travel came up because it fitted this story rather than because it was an issue that Gaiman wanted to address.

"Very Messed Up" III

See Resonance, Resonance II and Temporal And Causal Vortices as well as "Very Messed Up" and "Very Messed Up" II.

In the combox for "Very Messed Up," we got onto what would have been the consequences if Carl had not time traveled pastward to betray his followers. I wanted to discuss this further but found that I had already done so in some earlier posts. See the above links.

Long before people started to think about time travel, they had already become familiar with three kinds of sequences:

chronological - A happened before B;
causal - A caused B;
logical - if Socrates is a human being and if all human beings are mortal, then Socrates is mortal.

Causal is one kind of chronological.

In time travel:

familiar chronological sequences can be reversed, e.g., a man might die before he was born;
effects can precede their causes;
the question arises whether an effect preceding its cause might cause it or even prevent it;
people tend to think of different times as different places existing at the same time, thus causing endless conceptual confusion, e.g., it might be thought that, if I travel from 2016 to 1889 to prevent the birth of Hitler, then as soon as I prevent Hitler's birth, the world of 2016 changes into one in which there had never been a Hitler who was the Fuhrer of Germany.

However, there is no way that time travel can negate logical relationships, e.g., time travel cannot bring it about that, although all human beings are mortal and although Socrates is a human being, Socrates is immortal.

An Apology

I should apologize to any regular blog readers who expect more coherence on the blog. Often, I read or reread a novel and post about it briefly but regularly while doing so. Several works have been reread and posted about more than once with different points emerging each time.

Currently, however, reading SM Stirling's Against The Tide Of Years for the first time has acted as a catalyst for posts about Babylon, then about recurrent issues in Poul Anderson's Technic History and Time Patrol series. I trust that this will not be considered reprehensible on a Poul Anderson Appreciation blog. However, there is every intention of continuing to read and discuss Stirling's Nantucket Trilogy. Indeed, there is considerable interest in finding out how it all turns out. I remarked before that Stirling writes superb villains and Nantucket is no exception.

Since we are now on the last day of the month and have reached a round number of posts and since I am also rereading Stieg Larsson's trilogy, I expect the next post here to be dated October 1st. October the first is not too late. See here.

An Alternative Reality In A Shop Window

We get used to thinking about alternative realities when reading the works of Poul Anderson and SM Stirling. (There are others but these are the two that I am focusing on.) However, we do not expect a total transposition of realities to hit us from a shop window:

an actor called George Lazenby played James Bond in the one Bond film that has an alpine setting;

the window of a second hand bookshop in Morecambe displays a juvenile adventure novel called Alpine Adventure by George Lazenby!

Everything has been inverted. Thus:

not a film but a book;
not an actor but an author called George Lazenby;
not only an alpine setting but even an "Alpine" title.

None of this affects the characters. They do not know whether they are in a film or book, they do not know the title and none of them is called George Lazenby! But they are different characters and he is the same George Lazenby! First he acted; then he authed. And another minor (very minor) coincidence is that a woman in the film says that she is from Morecambe Bay.

"Very Messed Up" II

Records must have lied to Cynthia! See here.

Imagine this scenario:

Keith fails to return on schedule;
Cynthia consults Gordon, the clearinghouse, Records, then, a week later, Everard;
Everard promises Cynthia that, if possible, he will return Keith to her the following day;
Everard succeeds.

So far, this is what happens in "Brave To Be A King." However:

Everard and Keith have returned to a timeline in which it is recorded that Keith did return, not alone and on schedule but with Everard a week and a day later;
Records tells Cynthia this;
Cynthia tells Everard;
the Everard who has been told by Cynthia that he will return Keith to her the following day travels to 542 BC and there finds Keith being rescued by the Everard who had been told by Cynthia that Keith never returned;
thus, Everard has been duplicated.

"Very Messed Up"

"In the case of a missing man, you were not required to search for him just because a record somewhere said you had done so. But how else would you stand a chance of finding him? You might possibly go back and thereby change events so that you did find him after all - in which case the report you filed would "always" have recorded your success and you alone would know the 'former' truth.
"It could get very messed up." (Time Patrol, pp. 61-62)

I'll say...

(i) A Patrolman should not consult the record before embarking on a mission.

(ii) Everard tells Carl Farness that it was he, Carl, who had appeared at a crucial battle and played the role of Wodan betraying his followers. Now Carl is required to travel back to enact the betrayal. If he does not do this, then the version of Carl who did enact the betrayal will arrive home and Carl will have unintentionally duplicated himself. This is not stated in the text but I think that it logically follows.

(iii) Records said that Keith did not return but, thanks to Everard, Keith does return. Did Records lie or did Everard change events? If the latter, then what would be the consequences? My thought processes are getting messed up.

Gods And Men

How do gods interact with men?

In mythology, gods exist and either threaten or bless mankind. They reflect the duality of natural forces, either sustaining or endangering life.

In history, the ideas of gods reflect experience and affect behavior.

In many works of fantasy, including several novels by Poul Anderson, gods are imagined to exist as in the myths.

In the historical sf of Anderson's "Star of the Sea," the ideas of gods are shown to evolve from violence towards peace in accordance with social changes.

From:

"The sound of their battle horns woke a killing rage in men." (Time Patrol, "Star of the Sea," II, p. 557)

- to:

"Hers are the trees, the vine, and the fruits thereof. Hers are the sea and the ships that plow it. Hers are the well-being of mortals and peace among them." (III, p. 628)

- and:

"'She did what gods are supposed to do, gave courage and solace, made men a little more decent than they might otherwise have been, and sometimes opened their eyes to beauty.'" (20, p. 634)

In this last quotation, the speaker is a modern secularist but she uses the same words as either a believer in the gods or a pagan for whom the question, "Do the gods literally exist?" has not yet arisen.

In the graphic fantasy of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, gods begin as dreams, then become real but fade away when they are no longer believed in or worshiped. Thus, there are strong parallels between "Star of the Sea" and The Sandman although they are historical sf and contemporary fantasy, respectively.

Synthesizing Genres

In James Blish's After Such Knowledge Trilogy, each volume is a different genre: historical fiction, fantasy and sf, respectively. However, each volume is also a distinct narrative. The Trilogy is thematic, not linear, three related works, not one work in three parts.

By contrast with this, Poul Anderson's "Star Of The Sea" seamlessly incorporates four kinds of writing into a single narrative. There are:

people living in the past (historical fiction);
time travelers based in the twentieth century visiting the past (science fiction);
successive stages in the development of mythology (fantasy);
a concluding prayer to the Virgin Mary, who succeeds the goddess (prayer).

The alternation between genres begins in the concluding sections of the previous installment, "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth":

time travelers in Hawaii in 43 AD (sf);
the death of King Ermanaric (historical fiction);
a divine marriage (myth/fiction);
the German siege of the Roman Old Camp (historical fiction);
Manse Everard arriving in Amsterdam in the late twentieth century (sf).

A German prisoner says that Rome is doomed, according to the goddess. Everard arrives in leisurely wise centuries later but nevertheless, thanks to time travel, will do something to preserve Roman rule in Northern Europe.

Unusual Work

"'The work is, you understand, somewhat unusual,' said Mr. Gordon."
-Poul Anderson, "Time Patrol" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 1-53 AT p. 1.

"The men were descending with their plunder. 'Let's go,' Everard said, and led them away."
-Poul Anderson, "Death And The Knight" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 741-765 AT p. 765.

Unusual work indeed, if it involves plunder. However, the plundering is cover for the rescue of a Patrol agent. And these two quotations take us from the beginning of the story of Manson Everard, originally published in 1955, to the end, published in 1995. But there is more than these 765 pages because there are also the 436 pages of the second volume, The Shield Of Time.

A series that can be endlessly reread with increased pleasure and appreciation. My paperback copies of the two volumes are falling apart and have had to be replaced. However, the earlier copies, sellotaped together, are still used so that the newer copies will be preserved as long as possible.

The Fragility Of Civilization

When Manse Everard is in the Carthaginian timeline, he regrets that Dante and Shakespeare do not exist. Would the alternative timeline eventually have generated literature as great as that of Dante or of Shakespeare? Possibly but not necessarily. Anderson's point is that, in that timeline, there had been neither science nor social progress by the equivalent of our year 1960. The point is made even more starkly in "The House of Sorrows" and in the concluding section of The Shield Of Time. History might never have broken out of the cycle of slave-owning empires collapsing into dark ages from which nothing ever emerges but another slave-owning society.

In "Delenda Est" and "The House of Sorrows," no monotheism means no science. In The Shield Of Time, papal victory over the medieval emperors means a theocracy that prevents either freedom or science. How probable was our history? And how safe is our present civilization?

Records Of What Did Not Happen II

Another "record of what did not happen" is the Tacitus Two document. My theory of how the Patrol acquired this alternative version of Tacitus' Histories contradicts the terminology of successive timelines. I theorize that:

the sociologists doing field research in the early second century AD were at a time when the sequence of events described in Tacitus One and the alternative sequence of events described in Tacitus Two were both possible;

the sociologist who acquired a copy of Tacitus from a private library had to travel a short distance uptime in order to do so;

thus, he traveled forward into the Tacitus Two timeline and acquired a version of the Histories that described the alternative sequence of events;

rejoining his companions and reading the alternative account, the sociologist became alarmed and traveled futureward, this time along the Tacitus One timeline, to alert the Patrol in the twentieth century;

when Everard and Floris travel into the past to investigate, they know that they have traveled back along the Tacitus One timeline to a time before a fork in events;

their task is to ensure that, at that "fork," events move in the Tacitus One direction;

until the fork has been passed, events are in an "...unstable space-time zone..." (Time Patrol, p. 629);

after that, Tacitus Two records events that "did not happen."

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.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Time Patrol: Miscellaneous


I deduced that Everard was recruited to the Time Patrol in 1954 because, at the end of "Time Patrol," he returns home to a year that is a decade after 1944. (Time Patrol, p. 53) But, in any case, the year 1954 is stated on p. 4.

Cynthia Denison and Mr Gordon:

"'...checked with Records in milieu headquarters.'" (p. 61)

Surely Records do not have to be maintained in an office that exists for only twenty years? The entire Records of the Patrol could fit onto a small memory unit that could then be installed in every Patrol computer.

"In the case of a missing man, you were not required to search for him just because a record somewhere said you had done so." (pp. 61-62)

Yes, you are required to do so. Otherwise, the you who did the search will arrive home and you will have duplicated yourself. And you should not have consulted the record beforehand in the first place. When Keith fails to return:

Cynthia consults Gordon;
Gordon asks himself of a week ahead and is told that Keith did not return;
they check with the information clearinghouse which says that Keith never came to them;
then they check with milieu HQ Records who say that Keith never returned and was never found;
then MHQ orders the unsuccessful search;
Cynthia appeals to Everard who does rescue Keith.

Surely this was all done the wrong way around? Did Records lie to Cynthia, knowing that she would then appeal to Everard who would succeed?

19352 AD

The Nine discover time travel in 19352 AD;
it is the 7841st year of the Morennian Triumph;
the Chorite Heresiarchy is breaking up;
a turbulent age;
commercial and genetic rivalries between giant combines;
governments are pawns in a galactic game;
a search for a means of instantaneous travel;
time travel as a by-product;
both involve infinitely discontinuous functions;
the Nine plan to use time travel to enrich themselves and to eliminate their enemies;
the Danellians arrive from the further future, thwart the Nine and found the Patrol;
time travel led to the Danellians -

- so how how many reality alterations had there been?

"'Time travel was old when they emerged, there had been uncountable opportunities for the foolish and the greedy and the mad to go back and turn history inside out.'" (Time Patrol, p. 11)

We are used to the Danellians staying in the background so the idea of them appearing openly sounds apocalyptic. We would like to read a novel set in 19352 AD. It does not sound quite like any others of Poul Anderson's interstellar scenario.

Everard

Everard is big with blocky shoulders, battered face and brown crew-cut, aged 30 and unmarried when recruited to the Time Patrol in 1954. He was a lieutenant in the US Army Engineers, in combat in France and Germany, and had design and production experience in the US, Sweden and Arab countries. He is an outdoor type.

On November 17, 1944, he was somewhere near the German guns - and in London as a time traveler. He had known a girl in Streatham, London, in 1943. He was at college in 1947 and visited Amsterdam in 1952. In 1990, he reflects:

"The Midwest of his boyhood, before he went off to war in 1942, was like a dream, a world forever lost, already one with Troy and Carthage and the innocence of the Inuit. He had learned better than to return."
-Poul Anderson, (New York, 1991), p. 178.

- whereas Jack Finney's time travelers want nothing better than to retire in a nostalgically remembered pre-World War I United States. I would be interested to revisit childhood haunts but not in the hope of recovering any lost innocence.

We would like to read a novel about Everard's first thirty years of life.

Mr Gordon

When we read the later installments of a series, we forget how it all began and how the principal characters were introduced. It is good to reread page 1 as if for the first time. "Time Patrol" begins with a job ad and a conversation between Mr Gordon and Manson Emmert Everard.

Gordon has:

a curious smile;
General American speech;
a business suit;
a dark, beardless face;
Mongolian eyes;
a Caucasian nose;
an unplaceable foreignness;
an ordinary 6th floor office in New York;
a company, Engineering Studies Co., that we learn is a front and a source of funds for the Time Patrol.

In the opening installments, we learn something of the structure of the Patrol:

Cynthia Denison, Attached to her own century, is a clerk in Engineering Studies, in close contact with all other offices in the milieu, including headquarters;
Mr Gordon runs a branch office, fronted by Engineering Studies;
Keith Denison is a Specialist, East Indo-European Protohistory;
Everard, ostensibly a special consultant for Engineering Studies Co., becomes an Unattached agent;
Mainwethering is at milieu headquarters (MHQ).

Gordon interviews Everard, is mentioned by name by Cynthia and presumably is also whom she means by "...the boss..." (p. 61), but thereafter disappears from the narrative. Everard becomes Unattached and therefore is no longer accountable to the branch office.

Anderson prepares the reader for the revelation of time travel with Gordon's "hard to place...foreignness" (pp. 1-2) and with unfamiliar letters and numerals on a meter. In one of my fragmentary attempts at fiction, I wrote:

I thought he looked Irish but with something different. Neither North nor South but something else.
copied from here.

Someone might look Irish but not like any current kind of Irishman if he came from the future?

Three Organizations

Robert Heinlein's Temporal Bureau operates in an immutable timeline. Temporal agents occasionally close causal circles.

James Blish's Service operates in what its members hope is an immutable timeline although they take the precaution of causing future events that they know about, thus generating causal circles.

Poul Anderson's Time Patrol operates in a mutable timeline. Patrol agents prevent causality violations, often by completing causal circles.

Of these three scenarios, only the Time Patrol became a series because, in an immutable timeline, a circle, once closed, is complete whereas, in a mutable timeline, a further causality violation or quantum fluctuation remains possible. However, the Service receives messages from futures described in two otherwise unrelated stories, thus generating a very loose series or sequence, which might have gone on to include Blish's finite spinning universe version of time travel. One of the messages received is from a world-line cruiser traveling backwards in time and another is from a future era that has received a time projection from the twentieth century.

By contrast with these works, SM Stirling's Nantucket Trilogy focuses on the detail of a single population transported to the past of an alternative timeline.

Eternity And Empire

Poul Anderson's Time Patrol seems to be an endless topic of discussion. There is an illusion of endlessness about the Patrol because its members live indefinitely extended lifespans and can repeatedly revisit any historical period. Everard once roved a milieu "'...from end to end, over and over...'" (Time Patrol, p. 448) So can this go on forever? No. There is a finite number of times that he can visit a period. The Patrol guards a million years, long but finite, and exists, like everyone else, in an entropic universe.

What is peculiar about the Patrol is that, even if the last Academy graduate, with access to the entire records of the Patrol and close to his own death, makes one last journey into the past and returns futureward, he might wind up in an altered timeline and have to take measures to set things right. He might even have to prevent his own death and to recruit new Patrol members. There seems to be an endlessness about that possibility. The Academy exists for half a million years so, unlike the twenty-year milieu HQ's, it is enduring indeed.

Anderson's two most important series have to be the Time Patrol and the Technic History. Having summarized Time Patrol organization here, we should compare it with Terran Imperial organization here. The Patrol organizes Time whereas the Empire organizes Space.

Time Patrol Organization

There is little direct contact with Danellian civilization a million years hence.

The Patrol has uniforms and semimilitary ranks but minimum formality.

History is divided into milieus.

Each milieu has a disguised head office in a major city for a twenty-year period and smaller branch offices in other decades.

The 1850-2000 period has three milieus:

the Western world, HQ in London;
Russia, Moscow;
Asia, Peiping;
all 1890-1910.

An attached agent remains in his own period, often with an authentic job.

Unattached agents go whenever is necessary, answerable only to the Middle Command and the Danellians.

Communication is "...by tiny robot shuttles or by courier, with automatic shunts to keep such messages from piling up at one instant." (Time Patrol, p. 13) (How are couriers shunted?)

After several decades in a given period, an agent moves elsewhen with a changed identity. Carl Farness, recruited in 1980, moves with his wife to the 1930's. The Denisons move from New York mid-century to Paris, 1981.

We last see Manse Everard in his twentieth century persona in 1990. He should still be alive two or three decades later but must have moved house - he was in that New York apartment from the mid-'50s - and will, in any case, have lived into a new milieu with a different HQ.

Temporal Traffic

Lancaster Town Hall (see image) was built long before my birth and will exist until long after my death. Thus, during my lifetime, it is a place that is always there and that I can visit whenever I want to. By contrast, the Time Patrol London office exists only from 1890 until 1910. That is less than a third of a normal human lifespan and an insignificant fraction of the extended lifespan of a Time Patrol agent. Any given agent can visit the office only a finite number of times and it can receive only a finite number of message shuttles. Manse Everard visits the office on at least two occasions, in 1894 and again in 1885 - which contradicts the dates as given above. I think that the answer is that the London office is milieu HQ from 1890 until 1910 but also exists as a smaller local offer before and possibly after those dates. I am still learning about the Time Patrol.

At the end of 1910, there must be a complete record of all the traffic in and out of the office until that date. That record can be recorded on some miniaturized computer unit and copied both to every other Patrol office and to Danellian HQ. The record will show that Everard visited the office x number of times. Therefore, it would break the Patrol Prime Directive for him to visit the office an (x + 1) time. The same principle applies to message shuttles sent by Everard. The only exception would be if he were responding to a temporal change that had invalidated the record.

Indications Of Time Travel

After graduating from the Time Patrol Academy, Manse Everard's first job is:

"...to read a dozen papers a day for the indications of time travel he had been taught to spot, and hold himself ready for a call." (Time Patrol, p. 17) (See here.)

Presumably "papers" means "newspapers"? What indications of time travel? Why would they be more discernible to a reader with Patrol training than to anyone else? Would there be so much unauthorized time travel in the twentieth century that the Patrol would need to monitor the newspapers for "indications"? Or is this job a blind because the Patrol knows that Everard will make his own first job by finding an "indication" not in the newspapers but in "...a famous piece of literature..." and will then rapidly progress to Unattached status after further training?

The "indication" spotted by Everard is a reference to "...the singular contents of an ancient British barrow." (p. 18) That does sound very suggestive and we should be grateful to Anderson for spotting it. Everard, unlike us, is able to find a report of the case in back files of the London Times, June 25, 1894, so a newspaper does play a part in his investigation after all. Everard sends a memorandum to the London office, 1890-1910, in a message shuttle, which sounds like the Time Traveler's model Time Machine, and receives a reply from Mainwethering in 1894. Everard's memorandum had arrived before two others, from 1923 and 1960. Since the indication is in a famous piece of literature, Mainwethering expects to receive many more memoranda about it. If Everard's memorandum had not arrived first, then his first job would have been something else but he would soon have been promoted to Unattached status because that is best for his type of personality. (p. 53)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Back To Babylon

We recently visited Babylon, in the imagination, in:

Against The Tide Of Years by SM Stirling;
The Shield Of Time by Poul Anderson;
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

See Babylon, Babylon II, Meeting In Babylon and Meeting In Babylon II.

Here is an earlier reference to Babylonians. So the Time Patrol not only had a base in a secret vault under Babylon. It also recruited some Babylonians - but time travel was not in their worldview so they had to be given a battle-of-the-gods routine. What did the Babylonians do in the Patrol? Did they fight Neldorians on some future battlefield in the mistaken belief that they were fighting demons or rival gods in a supernatural realm?

When the Academy trainer replied to Whitcomb that the "routine" given to recruits from the 1850-2000 period was the truth - as much of it as they could take -, I did not expect that the series would ever reveal any more of the truth. However, The Shield Of Time does eventually disclose that the ultimate purpose of the Patrol goes way beyond policing other time travelers. The Patrol is the anti-chaotic stabilizing element of temporal reality.

From Pre- To Post-

Poul Anderson's "Time Patrol" summarizes human evolution:

"The Academy was...in the Oligocene period, a warm age of forests and grasslands when man's ratty ancestors scuttled away from the tread of giant mammals." (Time Patrol, pp. 5-6)

An evolutionary revolution is in the making. The scuttlers' descendants will displace the giant mammals as dominant species. Thus, the insignificant scuttlers represent the future, which has returned in the form of the Time Patrol. Incidentally, the Patrolmen bring with them horses:

"...whose remote ancestors scampered before their gigantic descendants." (p. 15)

Everard refers to "'...prehuman insectivores...'" (ibid.) which presumably are the same as the ratty ancestors.

From ancestors, we proceed to descendants:

"'The Danellians are part of the future - our future, more than a million years ahead of me. Man has evolved into something...impossible to describe...they are as far beyond anything we can know or feel as we are beyond those insectivores that are going to become our ancestors.'" (p. 11)

When I first read that, I thought, "The Danellians are the time travel equivalent of aliens in stories about space travel, not extraterrestrials but extratemporals." In any case, "Time Patrol" has taken us from our ratty insectivore ancestors to our indescribable descendants, with time traveling human beings between them, in just a few pages.

Sources

Poul Anderson's "Time Patrol":

derives its idea not only of a temporal vehicle but also more specifically of such a vehicle on which the time traveler sits as on a bicycle from HG Wells' The Time Machine;

derives the idea of a time traveler who deliberately sets out to change the history of civilization for the better from L Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall;

bases its idea of human beings evolving into Danellians on Darwinism, the same source on which Wells had based his idea of human devolution into Morlocks and Eloi;

derives its idea of a private inquiry agent who eliminates the impossible, then accepts whatever remains, however improbable, as the truth from Sherlock Holmes;

cites "...a tragedy at Addleton and the singular contents of an ancient British barrow..." (Time Patrol, p. 18) from the Holmes story, "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez" (see here);

derives Rozher Schtein from 2987 with his thirtieth-century blast-ray from pulp sf.

Anderson successfully unites Wellsian sf, historical sf, Darwinism, Holmesianism and pulp sf. It does not seem inappropriate that characters as dissimilar as Holmes and Schtein should feature in different passages of a single short story.

Superior Knowledge

A single individual with superior knowledge or technology might disrupt an entire society:

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain;
Lest Darkness Fall by L Sprague de Camp;
"Time Patrol" by Poul Anderson.

(One of Padway's audience is looking at us.)

Alternatively, an individual transported from a sophisticated civilization to a more primitive society might lack the skills necessary for survival:

"The Man Who Came Early" by Poul Anderson.

Anderson follows Twain and de Camp but also explores more than one possibility.

The single disruptive individual might be a space traveler instead of a time traveler. Thus, Dominic Flandry subverts an interstellar empire in Anderson's "Tiger By The Tail." ("Tiger By The Tail" introduced Flandry of the Terran Empire just as "Time Patrol" introduced Everard of the Time Patrol.)

SM Stirling transports not a single individual but Nantucket and its population to 1250 BC, thus multiplying the disruptions. William Walker goes it alone, albeit with some skilled help, and becomes an evil counterpart of the Yankee and Padway. Build a new civilization? Yes! Base it on slavery and crucifixions? No, thanks! The Nantucketers do a lot of good but, unfortunately, must divert a lot of resources into counteracting Walker.

Swindapa, of a tribe allied to Nantucket, says:

"'We had to become other than we were, or cease to be at all...'"
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty-Three, p. 380.

Because she has witnessed major technological and social changes in a single decade, Swindapa has realized what is true of all life. By preserving themselves and propagating their species, organisms were changed by natural selection. By changing their environment with hands and brain, our simian ancestors changed themselves into human beings. Those who preserve a tradition in a changed society preserve their idea of the tradition and thus change it. But meanwhile, to survive, we must maintain a material and cultural environment. So we have to live with continuity and change and without any help from gods, time travelers or space travelers.

Alternative Cities

(The image shows the Bristol of Earth Real.)

Poul Anderson describes an alternative York in an AI emulation in a far future. SM Stirling describes an alternative Bristol in 10 AE of the Nantucket timeline:

the Stars and Stripes and the crescent Moon on green above a pentagon-shaped earth-and-timber fort with cannon on its ramparts;
a roaring, bustling town with a population of four or five thousand;
smells of woodsmoke, coal smoke, freshly cut timber, brick-kilns, mortar, hot iron and brass;
sounds of hoofs, hammers, machines and steam;
brick-paved streets;
factories, docks, carpenters, smiths, wainwrights, saddlers, hospital and school;
many shops advertising for apprentices;
a halidom near a church;
the innovation of a police force, necessary in a large community without lineage ties.

POVs And Death

A fictional narrative has either a single viewpoint character from beginning to end or alternating pov's. A narrative or a single section of a narrative can end with the death of its viewpoint character. One work by James Blish ends in mid-sentence. See here. Usually, a first person narrator is safe - how can someone be telling us the story if he is going to die at the end of it? - although there are exceptions even to this.

I remembering discussing deaths of viewpoint characters when posting about SM Stirling's Conquistador. On a naturalistic hypothesis, we do not experience "blackness" or "darkness" after death. We do not experience period. Even when the author and his characters believe in a hereafter, to describe the hereafter is, in literary terms, to transform the narrative from mainstream fiction or any other genre into fantasy. Perfectly respectable - see Dante etc - but fantasy nonetheless. In naturalistic fiction, the viewpoint ends at death.

"The last thing he heard was thunder. It sounded like the hoofs of horses bearing westward the Hunnish midnight." (Time Patrol, p. 465)

Anderson's Ensign Conway inwardly converses with death, then we read:

"KILLED IN ACTION: Lt Cmdr Jan H. Barneveldt, Ens. Donald R. Conway, Ens. James L. Kamekona....

"MOURN FOR: Keh't'hiw-a-Suq of Dzuaq, Whiccor the Bold, Nova Rachari's Son...."
-Poul Anderson, Fire Time (St Albans, Herts, 1974), XV, p. 174.

(Different naming styles among the aliens.)

In a long battle scene in Against The Tide Of Years, SM Stirling introduces Garrett Hopkins to have him killed:

"Blackness." (p. 361)

Intelligence-Gathering III

In the Time Patrol:

Stephen Tamberly makes 3D recordings of Atahualpa's ransom;
Wanda Tamberly studies the Beringian ecology;
Carl Farness records Gothic stories and songs;
Ralph Corwin lives among Native Americans;
Tu Sequeira, studying early space travel, penetrates places like Peenemunde, White Sands and Tyuratam.

Sequeira must make:

"...any sacrifice necessary to preserve the course of events heavy with consequences for history." (The Shield Of Time, p. 129)

Any sacrifice necessary to preserve the German rocket program during World War II? See discussion here.

Intelligence-Gathering II

The previous post mentioned three spies of different species in the Technic History:

Erannath, Ythrian;
Rax, from somewhere distant and unpronouceable;
Flandry, human.

Another hero of intelligence-gathering is Targovi, Tigery, who learns that:

there is discontent and a sense of betrayal in the Patrician System, especially among Navy personnel;

the discontent is being fomented with unfounded allegations, inflammatory slogans and hostile japes;

spacecraft have been seen to land surreptitiously on Zacharia island;

the recent Merseian attack was led with unprecedented stupidity, flying straight into an obvious trap;

however, the Terran fleet under Admiral Magnusson could have pursued its advantage and inflicted greater damage but instead allowed most of the Merseian armada to retreat;

Captain Jerrold Ronan, in charge of Naval Intelligence for the Patrician System, is displeased by Targovi's report and refuses to explain why, citing official secrets;

Jerrold hints that the landings on Zacharia are a secret Navy operation and orders Targovi to speak no more about them;

he adds that Targovi had no right to question Merseian prisoners and is qualified neither to discuss strategy nor to criticize Magnusson;

in fact, Targovi is ordered to drop this line of inquiry and not to initiate any further investigations.

What does all this mean? That Magnusson is about to rebel and is a Merseian sleeper.

However, the supreme spy of the Technic History has to be Aycharaych the Chereionite, an agent of Merseia, simply because he is an unprecedented universal telepath.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Intelligence-Gathering

Erannath of the Stormgate choth on Avalon travels illegally on Aeneas, claiming to be a xenologist specializing in anthropology and gathering data on humanity. In fact, he gathers military intelligence for the Domain of Ythri and the Terran Empire. Aeneas has recently rebelled against the Empire and still seethes with unrest. Seeking the cause of the unrest, Erannath uncovers a Merseian plot.

On the Imperial planet of Irumclaw, Rax, sole representative of his species, runs a spy ring that reports to a Merseian base on the planet Talwin. Dominic Flandry clandestinely enters the Merseian Roidhunate and finds a suitable terrestroid planet that becomes an advanced base of the Terran Navy.

Here we have three spies, Erannath, Rax and Flandry, who ply their trade simply because large volumes of known space are divided between two rival empires, a scenario familiar from Terrestrial history.

Keith Denison, Time Patrol Specialist, East Indo-European Protohistory, traces the migrations of Aryan clans by starting at a point when the history is known, then working backward. He and Everard, posing as passing hunters, accompanied a wagon train over the Hindu Kush (and see here) for a few weeks. Denison and an assistant accompanied the Bakhri as they went to winter in the lowlands. John Sandoval, another ethnic Specialist, traces Athabascan migrations. Everard and Floris followed the trail of the pagan prophetess, Veleda, back through time. Another Patrol agent joins the Knights Templar. Guion investigates events within the Patrol.

These agents seek to learn the course of events so that the Patrol can protect those events from:

accidental alterations by time travelers;
deliberate interventions by time travelers;
random fluctuations in space-time-energy.

Thus, in this case, there is no rival empire but there are criminals requiring the attention of a police force and:

"'...the Exaltationists, a major disruptive force...could be related to something larger...Not a larger organization or conspiracy, no. We have no reason to suspect that. But chaos itself has a basic coherence.'" (The Shield Of Time, pp. 135-136)

The ultimate enemy is chaos and, if that does not frighten a time traveler, then the time traveler is not paying attention.

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.

Father Figures

In SM Stirling's Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty-Two, a Nantucketer invokes Sky Father, then amends it to "'...God the Father and His Son...'," then adds:

"'And His Mother. Whether or not She is the Moon Woman, too,' he added for safety's sake." (p. 341)

Thus, Sky Father equals God the Father and the Mother of God equals Moon Woman. These are reasonable equations. Taunarsson's remarks start in paganism, then pass through Christianity back to paganism.

A Christian missionary to China said that it was necessary to find some figure in the local mythology that could be identified with the Old Testament God before it was possible to start introducing God's Son. Thus, after some questioning, a Chinese woman identified an "Old Grandfather" and the missionary was able to say, "That's Him!" By contrast, some of us in Western countries accept from Indian and Chinese traditions impersonal concepts like Dharma and Tao.

An Inuit man told a missionary, "I prefer my god, the Sun. He gives life to all and doesn't get angry with anyone!"

We need to learn from other traditions instead of just imposing our ideas on them. In the works of Poul Anderson and SM Stirling, we find realistic assessment of, and also respect for, diverse cultural traditions.

The Bull of Marduk

"...the Bull of Marduk..."
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty-One, p. 327.

Remembering the importance of the Bull in Mithraism, I googled the phrase "Bull of Marduk" and found this article which shows that Marduk, like Mithras, is also associated with the Sun. It also sheds light on:

Cyrus;
Tiamat;
Bel, Baal and Yahweh.

Thus, we find common themes in Stirling's Nantucket Trilogy, Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series and Poul and Karen Anderson's King of Ys Tetralogy.

Meeting In Babylon II

For once, Poul Anderson does not describe a city. We are told that two disguised anthropologists, closely guided by fellow Time Patrol members, tour Hammurabi's Babylon in 1765 BC but we are not told what they see. This left me with the probably mistaken impression that the city was highly regimented, even hive-like, and that anyone who did not seem to be going about officially authorized business would be challenged.

When a Nantucketer enters the city in 10 AE, SM Stirling presents a description of street traffic very similar to those that Anderson gives us for other ancient cities:

gaping crowds;
a noble and his driver in a chariot;
acolytes around a priest with astrological symbols on his robes;
a proud scribe holding boards and stylus;
slaves bearing a courtesan in a litter.

Kathryn wishes that she could go incognito - like the Patrolmen. A broad processional street runs north and south parallel to the Euphrates, reminding us of Lir Way and Taranis Way in Ys.

Meeting In Babylon

Roving as they do through space and particularly through time, our favorite authors might not cross paths very often. Babylon is a possible meeting place - except that we are talking not only about the Babylon of different periods but even about the Babylons of alternative timelines.

"The carrier jumped again. It emerged in a secret vault below the Babylon where Hammurabi still reigned.
"The director of the base met the anthropologists and invited them to dine."
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 282.

The base, of course, belongs to the Time Patrol and their Babylon base is concealed from the Babylonians.

"He arranged for his guests to tour the city, properly disguised and under close guidance." (ibid.)

Not only disguised but also guided/guarded. Babylon would not have been a place where strangers could walk around unchallenged.

Another time traveler rides into the city:

"The city she approached was not yet the Babylon of the Bible, the city rebuilt by Nebuchadrezzar and the site of the captivity of the Jews, that would not be - would not have been - for another six centuries. The current Babylon was mostly not the city of Hammurabi the Lawgiver, sacked by the Hittites and refurbished by King Shuriash's ancestors. The Kassite kings dwelt more in their citadel of Dur-Kurigalzu a little to the west, but Babylon remained the greatest of their cities and the symbol of holiness and kingship in the land."
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty-One, p. 323.

Two differences:

the Patrol base is in 1765 BC in a timeline where it is imperative that the Jewish captivity occurs on schedule;

the Nantucketer approaches Babylon in 10 AE (= 1240 BC) in a timeline where the Jewish captivity will not occur.

It is time for another comparison with Neil Gaiman. When Morpheus visits a retired deity, he reminds him that they drank wine together in Babylon.

If anyone knows of a greater pleasure than writing about Anderson, Stirling and Gaiman, I would be pleased to hear about it. (I am talking about intellectual and aesthetic pleasures, of course.)

Monday, 26 September 2016

The Time Patrol Collection

The complete collection of Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, excluding only the long novel The Shield Of Time, has grown from four to five to seven to nine to ten stories and has had a different title each time although there are two basic titles:

The Guardians of Time title gained a definite article, becoming The Guardians of Time;

Annals Of The Time Patrol lost Annals Of, then The;

The Shield Of Time listed a forthcoming Tales of the Time Patrol but this lost Tales of before publication.

The Guardians of Time is Guardians of Time plus "Gibraltar Falls" and an Afterword by Sandra Miesel;
Annals... amalgamated The Guardians of Time (minus the Afterword?) and Time Patrolman;
The Time Patrol incorporated Year of the Ransom and the new "Star of the Sea";
Time Patrol incorporated "Death and the Knight," which, however, is a sequel to The Shield Of Time and therefore should be collected at the end of that volume.

Manse Everard's Period

Poul Anderson's first Time Patrol, story, "Time Patrol":

was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in May 1955;

and was collected in

(i) Guardians of Time (Gollancz, London, 1961; Pan, London, 1964);

(ii) The Guardians of Time: First Complete Edition (TOR, New York, 1981), with an Afterword by Sandra Miesel;

(iii) Annals Of The Time Patrol (1983);

(iv) The Time Patrol (New York, 1991);

(v) Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

I have all the collections except (iii).

In (i), Manse Everard's class at the Time Patrol Academy are recruited from the period 1850 to 1975 and study the history, science, arts, philosophies, dialects and mannerisms of 1850-1975;

in (ii) and (iv), they are recruited from 1850 to 2000 and study the history etc of 1850-1975;

in (v), they are recruited from 1850 to 2000 and study the history etc of 1850-2000.

At the end of "Time Patrol," when Everard, having completed his first mission, returns home from 1944, "...a decade had passed." (Time Patrol, p. 53) This means that he was recruited in 1954, the year before publication of the story. This in turn means that he was mistaken to think "1957" when talking to Wanda in The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 32.

When based in 1954, Everard learns what is to him the future of the twentieth century:

"It was a peculiar feeling to read the headlines and know, more or less, what was coming next. It took the edge off, but added a sadness, for this was a tragic era." (Time Patrol, p. 17)

Gorbachev is mentioned in The Shield of Time but not before but we are to understand that Everard knew of him before.

Spy Fiction

After graduation from the Time Patrol Academy in the American West of the Oligocene period:

"...each went back to the same year he had come from: the same hour."
-Poul Anderson, "Time Patrol" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), 2, p. 16.

Ostensibly, there has been no interruption to their lives. In reality, each:

has been physically and psychologically trained;
has gained an outline of history, both past and future, and also a more detailed knowledge of his own period;
now belongs to a powerful secret organization -

Everard "...got a list of contemporary agents (several of them holding jobs in places like military intelligence)..." (ibid.)

Thus, Everard, ostensibly a "special consultant to Engineering Studies Co..." (p. 16), has access to top secret information. His fellow Patrolmen who are intelligence agents will, in the 1950s, be on both sides of the Iron Curtain and will cooperate to keep history on track. The Cuban missile crisis must happen on schedule but must not result in World War III.

Here we have scope for a spy novel in which a CIA agent engaged in espionage against the USSR:

cooperates with his colleagues;
most of the time, works against his opposite numbers in the KGB, GRU etc;
occasionally, and very covertly, shares military intelligence with some of his overt opponents;
also unaccountably shares such information with one Everard, a civilian working with "Engineering Studies" -

- but the fact that this was all connected with time travel would not be mentioned. To learn more, the reader would have to follow the further adventures of Everard in Time Patrol and The Shield Of Time.

Cities

A writer of contemporary novels describes modern cities - London, New York, Stockholm, Amsterdam etc - that readers can check out for themselves.

A historical novelist describes, e.g., London, Rome or Paris as they would have been in earlier centuries.

A fantasy author describes imaginary cities inhabited by exotic beings like wizards, trolls etc.

A science fiction writer may describe any of the above - rationalizing the wizardry or trollery if wants to remain within the bounds of sf instead of diverging into fantasy. He may also describe:

Paris in an alternative timeline (see here);
cities on Earth in the future (see here and here);
human cities on other planets in the future (see here);
alien cities (see here).

As Brian Aldiss remarked once, an sf writer works hard for his living.

Babylon II

Continuing the description:

dwarfed by twentieth century cities but big when you are in it;

growing stench as the city is approached;

continual vibrating clamor of wheels, feet, hooves and voices;

mud-brick buildings decaying and rebuilt over centuries;

city wall rising like a mountain, stretching beyond sight;

baked-brick ramparts sixty feet high, thirty feet thick;

a tower every hundred yards;

a thirty foot gap between two walls filled with rubble and paved with a broad road;

a moat by the walls a hundred feet across and twenty deep;

embankment road flanked by crenellated fortress walls decorated with giant painted statues of man-headed bulls;

road crossing the moat on piers, then through a gate with four hundred-foot towers;

gate doors made of tall, thick cedar trunks sheathed in carved bronze;

perpetual preparedness to pour boiling water and oil and hot sand on anyone besieging the city.

Babylon

Bab-ilim means "Gate of the Gods";

Babylon is the largest city in the world with a population of 200,000 or more plus livestock;

a mile from the city defenses, a twenty foot wall with towers twice as high encloses the suburbs;

within the outer wall, there are clusters of gardens and groves;

temples are colorful and blocky;

a large walled enclosure surrounds the Akitu shrine where New Year ceremonies are held;

tanneries, dye-vats and the execution ground are in the suburbs;

the road into the city changes "...from packed clay to a broad avenue of baked brick." (SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years, p. 324)

Another of our Great Cities.

Three Displacements

Space
James Blish's Okie city of New York is displaced from Earth to space, ultimately to New Earth in the Greater Magellanic Cloud. The Mayor of the City becomes the Mayor of the Cloud.

Time
SM Stirling's Island of Nantucket, displaced from AD to BC, becomes a world power AE.

Legend
Poul and Karen Anderson's city-state of Ys is displaced from history to legend. The Ysan Gods not only destroy Their city but also draw a Veil over its memory. Thus, lacking either ruins or records, we know of Ys only through legend and fiction.

New York goes to another galaxy;
Nantucket goes to another timeline;
Ys goes into The King Of Ys by Poul and Karen Anderson;
we are privileged to read Blish's tetralogy, Stirling's trilogy and the Andersons' tetralogy.

Religion And Science

In an altered timeline, Manse Everard asks about religion because:

"'As Whitehead pointed out, the medieval idea of one almighty God was important to the growth of science, by inculcating the notion of lawfulness in nature.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Delenda Est" In Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 173-228 AT p. 196.

In the Nantucket timeline, when Ian Arnstein is asked, "'What's religion got to do with it?'," he replies:

"'Judaism and its Christian heresy were important in planting the idea that the universe was an orderly place, obedient to a single omnipresent, omnipotent system of laws with no exceptions - it leached the sacred out of the world, putting all the supernatural in one remote place. Call it preparation for the scientific worldview.'"
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty, p. 313.

This contrasts with the ancient Phoenician worldview. A Time Patrol agent says:

"'They don't have our kind of Weltanschauung... To them, the world isn't entirely governed by laws of nature; it's capricious, changeable, magical.'
"And they're fundamentally right, aren't they? The chill struck deeper into Everard."
"Ivory, And Apes, And Peacocks" IN Time Patrol, pp. 229-331 AT p. 254.

The science of quantum mechanics and time travel veers away from an orderly universe back to a changeable one.

In "The House of Sorrows," Anderson shows a history with neither monotheism nor science whereas, in "Eutopia," he shows a history where science grew from Classical philosophy.

Two Gods And One Being

Manannan is humanoid (see image here) whereas Lir, never anthropomorphized, is sometimes described as three-legged and single-eyed but only to evoke "...something strange and terrible." (p. 122)
-copied from here.

Thus, Lir is a shapeless god of the chaotic sea. For more on Him, see here. He seems to have met His match in a Bronze Age sea god imagined by SM Stirling:

"The enemy ships were gliding closer. On each stern was a small platform with a statue on it, a grotesque juju with three legs, six arms, and a single staring eye - Arucuttag of the Sea, Lord of Waves, Master of the Storm, to whom the captains gave gold and man's-blood."
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Eighteen, p. 282.

The captains throw gold into the sea? And practice human sacrifice? Some gods need to be reminded that we imagine/create them, not the other way around.

Apart from the arms, the physical descriptions of Lir and Arucuttag are identical: one eye and three legs. One eye means focus. Three legs mean mobility. It would be an easy matter for the Ysans to recognize these two deities as different Gods representing one Being. See here.

An Eye For Wisdom

Odin sacrificed an eye for wisdom. See here.

"...how did it happen you lost your eye, Lord?'
"Eodan smiled. It was a wry smile, not ungentle, but wholly without youth. He had known too much ever to be young again. He said, 'I gave it for wisdom.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Golden Slave (New York, 1980), XX, p. 279.

The Golden Slave is a historical novel and we have realized while reading it that Eodan is the original of Odin. Eodan, like the title character of Anderson's sf novel, Ensign Flandry, has lost his youth. Therefore, he has matured? Therefore, he has gained some measure of wisdom? Maybe.

SM Stirling's William Walker tells a barbarian chieftain:

"'I don't miss the eye. You see, I sacrificed it for wisdom.'"
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Time (New York, 1999), Chapter Eighteen, p. 281)

This novel is science fiction. Far from being the original of Odin, Walker is a time traveler who knows well how to exploit the power of myths. The barbarian steps back and shudders. Here, "wisdom" would mean not only insight and understanding but also supernatural power. Walker and his fellow time travelers will prevent the history that led to the myth of Odin but Walker himself might well initiate a myth of a one-eyed demon. His companion, Hong, already claims to be an avatar and not of anything good.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Not Paranoia But Realism

In Poul Anderson's Ensign Flandry, is Max Abrams paranoid about the Merseians? No. He makes a realistic assessment:

the Merseians have no reason to be on Starkad;
there is a mystery as to how they came to be there;
they are obviously stalling the talks.

So Abrams digs deeper and finds something monstrous. His apparent paranoia pays off. And he would not have been equally "paranoid" towards any and every alien government.

However, Poul Anderson created the Merseians to be formidable opponents in a space opera series. He shows us very different aliens in other works. In how many real life situations is Abrams' apparent paranoia warranted? Here we enter controversial territory. This blog invites controversy - but, in the current post, it merely raises a question for page viewers to consider!

Acknowledging Sources

An author can acknowledge his literary sources in an introduction/author's note/afterword etc or in the text. Poul Anderson's Author's Note to The Psychotechnic League informs his readers that he modeled his Psychotechnic History on Robert Heinlein's Future History. Anderson's Introduction to Operation Chaos tells us that its idea of magic as technology derives from Heinlein's "Magic, Inc."

However, let us find some acknowledgments within the texts. In Heinlein's Future History, the title character of Volume I, The Man Who Sold The Moon, says:

"'I read Verne, and Wells, and Smith...'"
-Robert Heinlein, "Requiem" IN Heinlein, The Man Who Sold The Moon (London, 1963), pp. 222-238 AT p. 226.

So, straight off, we have Anderson acknowledging Heinlein who in turn acknowledges Verne, Wells and Smith. Elsewhere in The Man Who Sold The Moon, we read:

"In 1900 Herbert George Wells pointed out that the saturation point in the size of a city might be mathematically predicted in terms of its transportation facilities."
"The Roads Must Roll," pp. 49-85 AT p. 56.

Anderson acknowledges Wells without naming him in There Will Be Time (see here) and maybe even less directly in "Time Patrol" when Manse Everard time travels to the year in which The Time Machine was published. In Operation Luna, Anderson's sequel to Operation Chaos, the narrator reads novels by Lyle Monroe, which was a pen-name of Heinlein.

Heinlein's The Door Into Summer, about both suspended animation and time travel, acknowledges Mark Twain by mentioning Connecticut in its opening sentence and Wells by informing us that the insurance companies give away free copies of The Sleeper Awakes.

SM Stirling acknowledges:

Twain when Hong nicknames Walker "'Mr. Montana Maniac at King Agamemnon's Court.'" (Against The Tide Of Years, p. 238);

ERB in The Sky People - and again in Against The Tide... when Alston, hearing "...a weird yell...," thinks, "Maybe it's Tarzan...," (p. 270), then goes on to mention Burroughs by name;

Anderson and other fsf writers in Conquistador.

Thus:

Heinlein acknowledges Verne, Wells, Smith and Twain;
Anderson acknowledges Wells and Heinlein;
Stirling acknowledges Twain, Burroughs and Anderson.