Saturday, 24 September 2016

A Wellsian Time Patrol

I still stand by my proposed sequel to HG Wells' The Time Machine. I think that the argument makes sense. The Wellsian Time Machine resembles a Time Patrol timecycle to the extent that a single traveler sits on the vehicle. S/he is not enclosed by the machine and cannot stand up or walk around while traveling. There is no room for other travelers on the single vehicle, although presumably bigger vehicles could be made. In the Time Patrol timeline, there are bigger timecycles, e.g., "An outsize machine bearing saddles for eight..." (Time Patrol, p. 758), and also different designs of time machines. Everard goes to the Academy in a "...time shuttle - a big, featureless metal box -" (Time Patrol, p. 6) while " Ing-model time shuttle..." (p. 42) is a "...great steel cylinder..." (p. 43) that Whitcomb enters after Everard has loaded boxes and other luggage into it. A Patrol carrier is "...a large cylinder that hovered on antigravity..." (The Shield Of Time, p. 281) and is big enough to transport horses and a chariot.

The Patrol's timecycles are more sophisticated and versatile than the Time Traveler's single Machine:

a timecycle resembles "...a motorcycle without wheels or kickstand..." (p. 20) whereas the Time Machine is a glittering metallic framework incorporating brass rails, nickel bars that must be exactly the right length, ivory, rock crystal and twisted quartz-like crystalline bars;

the timecycle has "...two saddles and an antigravity propulsion unit..." (Time Patrol, p. 20);

thus, the timecycle can hover and fly as well as travel through time;

it can also space-time travel instead of remaining stationary on the Earth's surface as the Time Machine and Anderson's time projector do;

the Time Patrolmen change their spatiotemporal coordinates instantaneously from their point of view whereas the Time Traveler watches the world flickering past.

However, presumably, subsequent Time Machines can incorporate improvements. The Time Traveler's original idea was of a machine:

"'That shall travel indifferently in any direction of Space and Time, as the driver determines.'"
-HG Wells, The Time Machine (London, 1973), 1 "Introduction," p. 11.

The travel through space could be by more familiar means. The Machine might have wheels and wings as well as the nickel and crystalline bars for temporal propulsion. Thus, we can imagine a fleet of Machines and an organization of Travelers. I suggested what their purposes might be in the proposed sequel. I do not think that they should have to contend with mutable reality because this seems inappropriate to the view of time and history presented in The Time Machine itself. However, there is some scope for ambiguity on this issue. When the outer narrator reflects on "...time travelling..." (p. 17), he refers to:

its odd potentialities;
its plausibility;
its practical incredibleness;
"...the curious possibilities of anachronism and of utter confusion it suggested." (ibid.)

This reads as if Wells saw the problems and prudently avoided them whereas Anderson spelled out that, if time travelers can change the past, then there will have to be a Time Patrol.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

If we knew both that time travel was real and that time itself was prone to chaotic fluctuations of the kind we saw in Anderson's "Amazement Of The World," then I would HOPE there was a Time Patrol!