Thursday, 15 December 2016

Knowing The Future III

After basic training at the Time Patrol Academy in the Oligocene, Manse Everard returns to the hour when he was recruited in New York, 1955. He finds that:

"It was a peculiar feeling to read the headlines and know, more or less, what was coming next."
-Poul Anderson, "Time Patrol" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 1-53 AT p. 17.

He now knows the history of the whole twentieth century as well as you or I.

Born in 1936 and recruited to the Patrol in 1980, Carl Farness opts to live in New York of the 1930s. Narrating his own twentieth century experiences, he tells us that, in the autumn of 1935, there was:

"...the kind of crisp and brilliant day that New York often enjoyed until it became uninhabitable..."
-Poul Anderson, "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" IN Anderson, op. cit., pp. 333-465 AT p. 342.

Is "uninhabitable" a comment on New York, 1980, or does it express some knowledge of later developments?

When visiting Everard's New York apartment in 1980, Farness comments:

"He didn't like dirt, disorder, and danger any better than I did. However, he felt he needed a pied-a-terre in the twentieth century, and had grown used to these digs before decay had advanced overly far." (p. 353)

Thus, dirt, disorder, danger and decay! Everard has been there for at least twenty five years.

Farness' supervisor, Herbert Ganz, says, in 1858:

"'...before Western civilization begins self-destruction in earnest, I must needs have aged my appearance, until I simulate my death...'" (p. 400)

He knows exactly when the "self-destruction" will begin. Knowing their history, time travelers can ensure that they themselves live in the peaceful periods. Next Ganz might opt for:

"' Bonn or Heidelberg.'" (ibid.) (my emphasis)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

New York city was a pretty bad place for people of modest means in 1980's, due largely to a simple refusal by the leaders of that time to maintain security of life and property. It improved in the 1990's and early 2000's due to the reforms of former Mayor Giuliani--but we have no guarantee his successors will preserve them.

A good description of how bad things were getting to be in NYC in the 1960's can be found in the late William F. Buckley's book THE UNMAKING OF A MAYOR, detailing NY's problems, his ideas for handling them, and his campaign for the mayoralty in 1964.

And we know WHEN Herbert Ganz dated the beginning of Western Civilization's self-destruction--the assassination at Sarajevo and WW I in 1914. We are STILL enduring the torments which began that fateful year!