Thursday, 6 October 2016

Language, Laws And History

English people value their language, laws and history. A University of Manchester Admissions Tutor said that UMIST staff and students speak the language of mathematics and obey the laws of physics. There is also a history of science although he did not mention it. So how do the concepts of language, laws and history apply to Poul Anderson's Time Patrol?

Patrol agents speak Temporal, a logically organized and expressive language with tenses for time travel. They obey a law of noninterference in past events, however horrendous. A map-maker must meticulously reproduce every contour of a terrain without wanting to add any artistic flourishes. Similarly, a Patrol Specialist must record every datum of past events without wanting to influence them - unless he discovers that his interference is already part of the pattern.

The Patrol guards a history and has a history. The guarded history is a million years of human events culminating in the Era of Oneness, which is followed by our evolutionary successors, the Danellians. What I mean by the Patrol history:

(i) Manse Everard is recruited into the Patrol in 1954 AD;
(ii) Everard attends the Patrol Academy in the Oligocene;
(iii) he returns to 1954 in the same hour that he left it;
(iv) he exchanges message shuttles with the London office of the Patrol;
(v) he collects Whitcomb from London, 1947;
(vi) Everard and Whitcomb arrive in the London office at 12 midnight on June 26, 1894.

Chronologically, these events occur in this order:

(ii) Academy;
(vi) arrival, 1894;
(v) 1947;
(i) recruitment;
(iii) return;
(iv) message shuttles.

An internally written history of the Patrol would record the events of Everard's career in the order (i)-(vi), not (ii)-(iv). Thus, the Patrol history differs from the guarded history and is extremely complicated when the interactions of all the time travelers are taken into account.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Ugh! Trying to write history from the POV of the Time Patrol sounds mind bogglingly complex! And could only be done if written in Temporal.