Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Additional Complications

When Manse Everard of the Time Patrol arrests Raor of the Exaltationists in Bactra in 209 BC, she knows that he is the agent who nearly captured her clone-mate, Merau Varagan, in Colombia. Everard adds that he almost caught Varagan in Peru and did in Phoenicia.

(iv) Colombia, 1826 AD;
(iii) Peru, 1610 AD;
(i) Phoenicia, 976 BC;
(ii) Bactra, 209 BC.

(i)-(iv) is the historical/chronological order of these Patrol-Exaltationist encounters.

After some Exaltationists escape in Phoenicia, the Patrol lays a trap for them in Bactra. Thus, for both the Patrol and the Exaltationists, the encounter in Bactra, 209 BC, comes "after" the encounter in Phoenicia, 976 BC. Further, Everard captures Varagan in Phoenicia. Therefore, for both of them, Phoenicia comes "after" Colombia and Peru. However, Varagan might have experienced Peru before Colombia.

In general, there is no reason why two time travelling groups groups should experience their encounters in the same order. But think of the additional complications if, e.g., Everard met for the first time a Varagan who had already met Everard for the first time. In fact -

- worst case scenario:
younger Varagan kills older Everard;
younger Everard kills older Varagan.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Ugh! "Complications" is the right word to use! Trying to make sense of time traveling along a MUTABLE time line is skull cracking. Which only makes me admire your efforts in grappling with such ideas all the more.


  2. Paul and Sean:
    Ben Bova wrote a book, *Orion* (part of a series, but I haven't read the others), in which the title character's first encounter with the adversary, Ahriman, was, from Ahriman's perspective, the last — and when Orion met Ahriman for the last time, it was the first from Ahriman's point of view.

    Gene Wolfe's *Book of the New Sun* similarly involves the main character with some people who eventually reveal that they're time travelers whose occasional meetings with him are in reverse order.

    1. David,
      DOCTOR WHO eventually got around to doing things like that with time travel.

    2. Kaor, DAVID!

      I have read some of Ben Bova's books, but not the one you discussed here. But it doesn't make sense to me, I admit, how the Adversary could repeatedly meet a man and all those meetings were the FIRST time they met.

      Thanks! I have read, and enjoyed, Gene Wolfe's four volume THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, but missed or forgot Severian the Torturer's meetings, in reverse order, with time travelers. Gene Wolfe's books belongs to that category of works which has to be read twice or more to be more completely appreciated.


    3. Sean:
      Not ALL the meetings were the first -- it's just that the last time (from Orion's point of view) Orion encountered Ahriman was the first from Ahriman's perspective. Which caused interesting problems of attitude, because Ahriman (in the book) was originally not hostile or evil at all. He's not truly the Adversary in the sense of Satan; it's just that his NAME became synonymous with Satan.

      In that earliest clash, Ahriman was given GOOD REASON to be hostile, a fact Orion recognized, deeply regretted ... and tried unsuccessfully to prevent.

    4. Kaor, DAVID!

      I admit I don't understand how Orion, from his POV, could have repeatedly met Ahriman and how the latter, from HIS point of view, only met Orion for the first time at the last time Orion met Ahriman. I think we would need to use Temporal, the special language of the Time Patrol, which has the right tenses and inflections!

      I guess I need to read Bova's ORION both to understand Ahriman and maybe the baffling time traveling bits!