Thursday, 29 September 2016

Eternity And Empire

Poul Anderson's Time Patrol seems to be an endless topic of discussion. There is an illusion of endlessness about the Patrol because its members live indefinitely extended lifespans and can repeatedly revisit any historical period. Everard once roved a milieu "'...from end to end, over and over...'" (Time Patrol, p. 448) So can this go on forever? No. There is a finite number of times that he can visit a period. The Patrol guards a million years, long but finite, and exists, like everyone else, in an entropic universe.

What is peculiar about the Patrol is that, even if the last Academy graduate, with access to the entire records of the Patrol and close to his own death, makes one last journey into the past and returns futureward, he might wind up in an altered timeline and have to take measures to set things right. He might even have to prevent his own death and to recruit new Patrol members. There seems to be an endlessness about that possibility. The Academy exists for half a million years so, unlike the twenty-year milieu HQ's, it is enduring indeed.

Anderson's two most important series have to be the Time Patrol and the Technic History. Having summarized Time Patrol organization here, we should compare it with Terran Imperial organization here. The Patrol organizes Time whereas the Empire organizes Space.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Pauls!

Thanks for the flattering linking of this blog piece of yours to my "Sector Governors In The Terran Empire" article. In fact, a lot more could be said about the administrative organization of the Empire. And I wrote a long letter to Poul Anderson long ago in the 1980's doing exactly that. My "Sector Governors" note was an expansion on my briefer comments about these officials in my letter.