Thursday, 29 September 2016

Mr Gordon

When we read the later installments of a series, we forget how it all began and how the principal characters were introduced. It is good to reread page 1 as if for the first time. "Time Patrol" begins with a job ad and a conversation between Mr Gordon and Manson Emmert Everard.

Gordon has:

a curious smile;
General American speech;
a business suit;
a dark, beardless face;
Mongolian eyes;
a Caucasian nose;
an unplaceable foreignness;
an ordinary 6th floor office in New York;
a company, Engineering Studies Co., that we learn is a front and a source of funds for the Time Patrol.

In the opening installments, we learn something of the structure of the Patrol:

Cynthia Denison, Attached to her own century, is a clerk in Engineering Studies, in close contact with all other offices in the milieu, including headquarters;
Mr Gordon runs a branch office, fronted by Engineering Studies;
Keith Denison is a Specialist, East Indo-European Protohistory;
Everard, ostensibly a special consultant for Engineering Studies Co., becomes an Unattached agent;
Mainwethering is at milieu headquarters (MHQ).

Gordon interviews Everard, is mentioned by name by Cynthia and presumably is also whom she means by "...the boss..." (p. 61), but thereafter disappears from the narrative. Everard becomes Unattached and therefore is no longer accountable to the branch office.

Anderson prepares the reader for the revelation of time travel with Gordon's "hard to place...foreignness" (pp. 1-2) and with unfamiliar letters and numerals on a meter. In one of my fragmentary attempts at fiction, I wrote:

I thought he looked Irish but with something different. Neither North nor South but something else.
copied from here.

Someone might look Irish but not like any current kind of Irishman if he came from the future?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

What * I * thought was wondering HOW numbers would look DIFFERENT from the Indian/Arabic symbols we now use. I find it very difficult to imagine what numbers would LOOK like if not the ones we use. There were Roman numbers, of course, but they were so clumsy and awkward that Hindu/Arabic numerals replaced them for all serious use.


David Birr said...

I figured the unfamiliar numbers were simply because the SHAPES of the numerals changed until they weren't recognizable, but each still MEANT the same thing. As you say, our decimal numbering system WORKS.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, David!

That is what I had in mind, shapes of numbers changing till they would be unrecognizable by us. But, yes, the shape for the number 3 could change drastically, but the CONCEPT of "3" would remain the same under whatever form it took.