Thursday, 13 August 2015

"Earlier" Timelines?

In the introductory short story, "Time Patrol":

"'Time travel was old when [the Danellians] emerged, there had been uncountable opportunities for the foolish and the greedy and the mad to go back and turn history inside out. They did not wish to forbid the travel - it was part of the complex which had led to them - but they had to regulate it. The Nine were prevented from carrying out their schemes. And the Patrol was set up to police the time lanes.'" (Time Patrol, p. 11)

On these four sentences - plus a few more - rests the entire Time Patrol series, which was already a major work of science fiction and successor to The Time Machine even during the decade and a half when it was just one volume of four short stories.

" was part of the complex which had led to them..." is a clever reply in advance to the objection, "If time travel is dangerous to the Danellians, then why do they allow it?"

"...the foolish and the greedy and the mad..." - Anderson and I would been able to agree on the need to restrain the greedy and the mad but might well have disagreed about who was foolish. Everard says:

"'I think most human misery is due to well-meaning fanatics like [Stane].'" (p. 42)

Some human misery, yes. Most? I don't think so. And not every well-meaning reformer is fanatical. There must have been well-meaning, well-informed, non-fanatical time travel groups wanting to bring about, e.g., a twentieth century without two World Wars, the Holocaust, Hitler, Stalin, nuclear weapons, the Cold War, local wars, avoidable famines, pollution etc. But these would all be foolish according to the Danellians and the Patrol.

"...uncountable opportunities..."  -

Was there a succession of earlier timelines superseded by the Patrol?
Did the Nine carry out their schemes?
Was there a Cyrus who did not need Patrol intervention to prevent his murder in infancy?
Was there a Veleda killed when young so that the Northern rebellion occurred without her input and the Virgin Mary did not assimilate the imagery of the star and the sea?
How many random fluctuations in space-time-energy have there been?

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