Thursday, 29 September 2016

Indications Of Time Travel

After graduating from the Time Patrol Academy, Manse Everard's first job is:

" read a dozen papers a day for the indications of time travel he had been taught to spot, and hold himself ready for a call." (Time Patrol, p. 17) (See here.)

Presumably "papers" means "newspapers"? What indications of time travel? Why would they be more discernible to a reader with Patrol training than to anyone else? Would there be so much unauthorized time travel in the twentieth century that the Patrol would need to monitor the newspapers for "indications"? Or is this job a blind because the Patrol knows that Everard will make his own first job by finding an "indication" not in the newspapers but in "...a famous piece of literature..." and will then rapidly progress to Unattached status after further training?

The "indication" spotted by Everard is a reference to "...the singular contents of an ancient British barrow." (p. 18) That does sound very suggestive and we should be grateful to Anderson for spotting it. Everard, unlike us, is able to find a report of the case in back files of the London Times, June 25, 1894, so a newspaper does play a part in his investigation after all. Everard sends a memorandum to the London office, 1890-1910, in a message shuttle, which sounds like the Time Traveler's model Time Machine, and receives a reply from Mainwethering in 1894. Everard's memorandum had arrived before two others, from 1923 and 1960. Since the indication is in a famous piece of literature, Mainwethering expects to receive many more memoranda about it. If Everard's memorandum had not arrived first, then his first job would have been something else but he would soon have been promoted to Unattached status because that is best for his type of personality. (p. 53)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I don't think Everard's first job in the Time Patrol was a blind. It sounds like the kind of thing we should expect of, for example, being assigned to new officers in intelligent agencies. Meant to test diligence, and to check if they have the patience needed for often dull but necessary work.


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
Plus, not everyone supervising him would be in on the fact that he was going to become Unattached. It may be that ONLY the Danellians had spotted the discrepancy in their records -- "Don't tell his supervisor in advance; that might CAUSE a problem."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, David!

Good point! We should not expect Mr. Gordon, for example, to already know Everard would be promoted to Unattached status.