Wednesday, 14 September 2016
In Poul Anderson's "The Nest," naive time travelers go straight to the court of a medieval Duke and introduce themselves. They are tortured and killed and their time vehicle is used for raiding through history. In Anderson's Time Patrol series, Patrol agents are present in King Hiram's Tyre and deal with the king when necessary but only in the guise of contemporary traders.
In Against The Tide..., the Nantucketers cannot return to the twentieth century but also need not conceal their superior technology. The Babylonians must find the answers to certain questions:
Why do the Nan-tu'kht-ars not conquer us with their superior weapons?
Because they are so few.
Why are their women not primarily engaged in child-bearing?
Because they can counteract child mortality.
Why do they exchange coins instead of ingots?
Because coins make trade easier and commerce swifter.
Do the "'...curious maces of wood and metal...'" (p. 133) throw thunderbolts?
No, it is explained that a fast-burning powder creates "'...a hot swift wind that pushes the lead shot out of the iron tube...,'" (p. 135) invisibly fast.
Has Yhared-Koff'in sent his own son to greet the King of Babylon?
No, he has sent his councilor for foreign affairs. His sons are too young. (And elective government can be explained later.)
Are the Marines eunuchs?
No, some Nantucketers shave their chins. Customs differ.
How will the Babylonian king save face by giving royal gifts of equivalent value?
(I am not sure of the answer to this one yet - but a favorable treaty is signed.)
What can the diviners say about the strangers?
" ' "Great opportunity, but great danger." '" (p. 136) That is obvious!
Can the Nantukhtar tell the future?
They present Assyrian chronicles about the defeat of the present Babylonian king's son. And this is plausible.
Should Babylon ally with the Hittites or with the Nantukhtar?
With the latter because they bring a new age:
"'...one in which those who learn their arts will prosper and those who do not will be ground like grain between millstones and blown about by the wind.'" (p. 139)
These guys talk like the Bible. The king, realizing that the Nantukhtar will need interpreters, decrees that a hundred young scribes should learn their language, writing and other arts.
Manse Everard recruits a single young Tyrian into the Patrol and sends him to the Academy. Of necessity, the Nantucketers recruit all of Babylon into their new civilization.