Friday, 14 August 2015

The Time Patrol Organization

With admirable brevity, Poul Anderson outlines the organization of the Time Patrol, even adding that:

"Communication between years was by tiny robot shuttles or by courier, with automatic shunts to keep such messages from piling up at one instant." (Time Patrol, p. 13)

The message shuttle, vanishing with air rushing in to where it had been (p. 19), recalls the Time Traveler's model Time Machine. Everard sends a note from 1954 to Charlie Whitcomb in 1947. They were recruited from those years and returned to them after training. If Whitcomb had remained in the Patrol, would they have continued to regard themselves as seven years apart? Not necessarily. A message from Everard to another agent would be shunted or relayed to a moment in the latter's career when he was able to respond to it. But, starting his first case after graduation from the Academy, Everard wants to team up with the Whitcomb whom he knows who has also just graduated.

The modern Western milieu of the Patrol stretches from 1850 to 2000 with its headquarters in London, 1890-1910. But that is soon over. A single agent could serve in London for those twenty years and also spend time in some or all of the "...various branch offices..." (p. 13). Finishing his stint in that milieu before moving to another, he will surely know, or have access to the records of, all the Patrol business that was conducted in the Western world for that century and a half - unless there is a temporal change, which it is the Patrol's job to prevent.

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