Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Wanda Tamberly And Nicholas Van Rijn

(Thank you for 284 page views so far today despite no posts until this one today.)

Wanda Tamberly reads Analog so she must have read about Nicholas van Rijn, for example in "Hiding Place," although not about the Time Patrol. That series was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Fictional characters are usually, though not always, fictions to each other.

In a "multiverse" (multiple universes) scenario, a character who is fictional in one universe may be real in another. However, Time Patrolmen inhabit not one universe in a greater multiverse but a single universe with a mutable timeline. Thus, van Rijn has access to the inter-universal Old Phoenix Inn whereas Patrol agents do not. The Sherlock Holmes who is seen in the Old Phoenix cannot be the same as the one who is real to the Time Patrol. Can there be different versions of Sherlock Holmes? Sure there are. We see them on screen all the time.

Neil Gaiman's equivalents of the Old Phoenix are "...the free houses that owe no allegiance to any one time or dominion," including the Inn of the Worlds' End and The Toad-Stone (The Wake, see below, p. 29, panel 2). One of the cleverest fiction-reality interfaces that I have read is this dialogue in panel 1, p. 62, of Gaiman's The Sandman: The Wake (New York, 1997):

Clark Kent: The one I hate is where I'm just an actor on a strange television version of my life. Have you ever had that dream?
The Batman: Doesn't everyone?
The Martian Manhunter: I don't.

However, the Manhunter has since appeared in the Smallville TV series. Alternative realities proliferate. All that an author needs is a blank sheet of paper or a computer screen as Poul Anderson continued to demonstrate until the end of a long career.


David Birr said...

A. Bertram Chandler wrote a series of SF stories, more or less in the Hornblower mode, about Commodore John Grimes of the Rim Worlds Navy. In one of his stories, Grimes went to an area where space-time was a bit ... odd ... and met an alternate version of himself who served a different space service. AND they both met Dominic Flandry, commanding an Imperial destroyer at the time.

Another story took Grimes on further inter-universe wanderings, which resulted in him dropping in on a "naval officers club" for FICTIONAL officers (they bent the rules to let Captain Ahab in, though it seems Commander Bond had to strong-arm Captain Queeg a bit to get his agreement). The club's servant was Jeeves, who said to Grimes something to the effect of, "The question is, sir, are you an ENDURING creation?"

So there was a character who was smacked right in the face with the knowledge that in at least one universe he's FICTIONAL.

Paul Shackley said...

That's the stuff!
I think Grimes also interrupted Chandler writing?

David Birr said...

Yes, it's been a long time since I read it, but as I recall, Grimes was effectively teleported to Chandler's house and tiptoed up behind the author who was at his typewriter. Chandler looked up just as Grimes peered over his shoulder at the text ... and I don't remember what happened next. I THINK I was interrupted and never got the chance to finish reading that book.

I have the impression that I've read ANOTHER book with a similar scene, but I can't bring anything more specific to mind -- except, of course, the *Samurai Cat* books, which are pure, deliberate farce. "Considering what a dangerous situation we're in, is there any point in us reminding [the author] that he's a [low-quality writer]?"

Ketlan said...

'I have the impression that I've read ANOTHER book with a similar scene...'

Perhaps you're thinking of Coleridge who was, we're told, interrupted by 'a stranger from Porlock' while writing, I think, Kubla Khan. The great poem was, sadly, never completed.

Paul Shackley said...

Nice one, Ketlan!

Paul Shackley said...


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

I too have read that story by Chandler featuring his use of Poul Anderson's character Dominic Flandry. Frankly, I was bitterly disappointed: the way Chandler treated Flandry simply was not TRUE to how we see Flandry in Anderson's stories. Bluntly, Chandler SLANDERED Flandry. And Chandler's FTL drive was also simply not plausible enough for me to suspend my disbelief.