Friday, 14 August 2015

A Conversation With Stane

Manse Everard and Charlie Whitcomb of the Time Patrol meet the time criminal Stane at the bottom of p. 36 of Time Patrol (New York, 2006) and kill him half way down p. 41. Stane is simply not the main focus of the story although he does serve his purpose very well as an archetypal time traveler trying to change history. Stane's main narrative role is to put temptation in the way of Whitcomb. Given the job of driving Stane's time shuttle to Patrol HQ in the nineteenth century, Whitcomb instead succumbs to his own wish to change history by saving his fiancee from a World War II bombing raid.

Everard tells Stane:

"'We came back looking for this mysterious Stane who seemed to be one of the crucial figures of history. We suspected he might have been a time traveler, peregrinator temporis, that is. Now we know.'" (p. 38)

Since they are speaking Latin, Everard should not have to explain "peregrinator temporis." This ingenious phrase is also used in Anderson's There Will Be Time (New York, 1973) in a full Latin sentence: "Es tu peregrinator temporis?'" (p. 62)

Everard displays an almost telepathic ability to guess Stane's intentions for the future in order to put the blaster-wielding criminal off his guard so that Whitcomb can attack him from behind with an ax - one English kingdom combining "'...Saxon strength and Roman learning...'" (p. 40), guided by the time-traveling St Stanius, able to unite Europe, Earth and then the planets in peace.

What do I think of Stane's utopia? The standard Patrol retort is that, if Stane succeeds, then neither I nor anyone I have known will be born. But we were born in the previous timeline. Why should the people who would live in a (hopefully) more peaceful timeline not have a chance to be born as well? The most basic moral objection to Stane's scheme is that it starts wrong with his murder of an inter-temporal trader and the theft of his time machine.

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