Saturday, 5 August 2017

"Man From Tomorrow"

To us, the phrase, "man from tomorrow," instantly suggests a time traveller but what would it mean to a Jute? Tomorrow is not a place so how could anyone come from it? Would the phrase be as meaningless as, e.g., "man from white" or "man from thirteen"?

Time Patrolman Manson Everard claims to be a visitor with news that will interest the great wizard:

"'Tell him, "Man from tomorrow." 'Tis a password. Got it?'
"'It makes not sense,' complained the guard.
"'Passwords need not make sense,' said Everard with hauteur.
"The Jute clanked off, shaking his head dolefully. All these newfangled notions!"
-Poul Anderson, "Time Patrol" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, NY, 2006), pp. 1-53 AT p. 36.

The Jute does not know the half of it! But, whether or not there are time travellers around, we are always surrounded by newfangled ideas. Ideas being thought now will shape the future. Ideas implicit in current thought will be articulated later. People will look back and say, "This started back then although no one living then knew the implications."


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I had to smile when I read this amusing bit you quoted from "Time Patrol." So apt and true! And one idea I hope so much will soon be true is that the way SF writers and fans talk about FTL drives will lead to the invention of a real FTL drive!


S.M. Stirling said...

The image of time as a river down which one makes a journey is very old -- I think it may be built into the structure of the Indo-European languages, at least.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I was also reminded of how St. Bede, in his HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE, had an Anglo/Saxon convert to Christianity comparing a human life span to a bird which at night flew into a lit chieftain's hall and flew out again into the night. The former pagan's thought was that humans at one time did not exist and then the pagan gods gave no real insights or consolations about what happened after death.