Saturday, 13 May 2017

A Knight's Move On The Sea Of Time

I know that that post title is confused but so am I. Chess and time travel appear in Poul Anderson's works. A knight's move is two squares forward and one sideways and the knight alone can jump over intervening pieces. Reading sf, we move forward in time but also sideways into other timelines or into comparable works by other authors. Anderson has several future history series which can be compared and contrasted with each other and also with almost parallel series by half a dozen colleagues.

I found some parallels with a work by Elliot S. Maggin and expect to find more when reading for the first time Maggin's newly reprinted Superman: Miracle Monday. I already know that this prose novel involves not only superheroes but also three plot elements that can crop up at any time in superhero fiction:

time travel;
time travel paradox;
the supernatural.

I am getting more confused. In any case, there is scope for comparison with Anderson whose time travel novel, There Will Be Time, did include an appropriate reference to Clark Kent and I did not remember that until typing this sentence. If anyone cares to accompany me along these strange pathways, then I am grateful.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

As all fans of PA should know, he was fond of chess, as he was of the Sherlock Holmes stories. And he used the moves of a real chess game in the short story "The Immortal Game," featuring an early use by him of computerized AIs. And we see chess mentioned or use in other works such as ENSIGN FLANDRY, A CIRCUS OF HELLS, and "Que Dpnn'rez Vous" (one of the Flying Mountains tales).

One thing I thought regrettably dated of Anderson was how he used the now obsolete English descriptive system of chess notation in Chapter 2 of ENSIGN FLANDRY and "Que Donn'rez Vous." The rise of chess computers around 1980 killed off the English descriptive notation in favor of the "algebraic" system for recording chess moves. So I couldn't help but wish Anderson had used algebraic notation in the works I cited. After all, the great historian of chess, HJR Murray, had advocated and used the German invented algebraic system in his magisterial HISTORY OF CHESS as long ago as 1913. And I would have thought SF writers would be willing to use something more FUTURISTIC looking as the algebraic chess notation long before chess computers became so common.

In fact, I have a chess computer myself, albeit an admittedly old Radio Shack 2150L model. But it still beats me most of the time. High time I got back to playing with it!