Wednesday, 28 September 2016

From Pre- To Post-

Poul Anderson's "Time Patrol" summarizes human evolution:

"The Academy the Oligocene period, a warm age of forests and grasslands when man's ratty ancestors scuttled away from the tread of giant mammals." (Time Patrol, pp. 5-6)

An evolutionary revolution is in the making. The scuttlers' descendants will displace the giant mammals as dominant species. Thus, the insignificant scuttlers represent the future, which has returned in the form of the Time Patrol. Incidentally, the Patrolmen bring with them horses:

"...whose remote ancestors scampered before their gigantic descendants." (p. 15)

Everard refers to "'...prehuman insectivores...'" (ibid.) which presumably are the same as the ratty ancestors.

From ancestors, we proceed to descendants:

"'The Danellians are part of the future - our future, more than a million years ahead of me. Man has evolved into something...impossible to describe...they are as far beyond anything we can know or feel as we are beyond those insectivores that are going to become our ancestors.'" (p. 11)

When I first read that, I thought, "The Danellians are the time travel equivalent of aliens in stories about space travel, not extraterrestrials but extratemporals." In any case, "Time Patrol" has taken us from our ratty insectivore ancestors to our indescribable descendants, with time traveling human beings between them, in just a few pages.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

At other times I have wondered what will happen to the Danellians? Will their civilization too fall and the Danellians be replaced by some impossible to describe descendants? After all, a mere million years is not very long when the sun may still have two billion years to go before the Earth becomes inhospitable for life.