Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Famous Opening Lines II

"Time Patrol" is the opening story of Time Patrol which is the opening volume of the Time Patrol series. What is the opening sentence of "Time Patrol"? I would have said that it was:

"'The work is, you understand, somewhat unusual,' said Mr. Gordon."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol, p. 1.

(Beautifully understated.) However, on looking at the text, I am reminded that Mr. Gordon's observation is preceded by:

"MEN WANTED - 21-40, pref. single, mil. or tech. exp., good physique, for high-pay work with foreign travel. Engineering Studies Co., 305 E. 45, 9-12 & 2-6."

Not the catchiest of openings but not really part of the text, either. More like a heading. Again, it is an understated account of time travelling. We should compare it with an earlier lead-in to the subject of time travel:

"The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us."
-HG Wells, The Time Machine (London, 1973), p. 7.

These are our first introductions to Anderson's Time Patrol and to Wells' Time Machine but we forget such introductions, instead just becoming familiar with the concepts.

To answer a question asked here:

"It was an anachronism to have a human receptionist in this hall of lucent plastic..."

"When Captain Dominic Flandry opened his eyes, he saw metal."

But this time I leave it to blog readers to source these quotes. (They are easy enough to find.)


  1. Paul:
    Flandry opening his eyes and seeing metal is of course "Tiger by the Tail." As for the human receptionist, I thought at once of Nick van Rijn employing a woman in such a role: one easy on the eyes ... and armed. Recalling that "Margin of Profit" and "Esau" both started with someone coming to call on Old Nick, I checked "Esau" first, but it was "Margin." Quod ergot demonstranded, as Nick himself might mangle the expression.

  2. Kaor, Paul!

    David beat me to "Margin Of Profit" and "Tiger By The Tail"! (Smiles)