Friday, 20 April 2012

Comments on the Time Patrol Timeline

Some readers of the Timeline (see here) will spot two references to another fictitious character.

The third Technological Renaissance includes the development of the Trazon matter transmuter which could create either unlimited wealth for the entire species or an unlimited supply of weapons. The Patrol intervenes to suppress the transmuter. Usually, the Patrol protects the actual course of history, however destructive. In this case, the actual course of history must include their intervention. The Patrol partly resembles James Blish's fictitious organisation, the Service (see "Interconnected Series of James Blish"), which receives messages from itself in the future, including messages describing the Service preventing disasters and presiding over a peaceful expanding civilisation. As the Patrol protects the course of history, Service personnel protect and indeed implement the future history described in the messages from the future. Although, unlike the Service, the Patrol preserves many disasters, it knows that the history containing the disasters eventually moves beyond animality and humanity to the Danellians.

When events have not been recorded, the Patrol must learn what events it needs to protect. Hence, Specialists like Dennison, Sandoval etc.

We are told that the Exaltationists are earlier than the discovery of time travel but we can see that they are not. I suggest that they are earlier than the public announcement of time travel. Anderson's text reads as if only a single "Interregnum" period separates the late thirtieth century from the Ing Empire but that would put the Ings downtime of the Nine so the Ing trader should not have open access to a time machine yet the text refers to "...an Ing-model time shuttle..." (1) An alternative reading would be that the Interregnum immediately precedes the Ings but does not immediately succeed the late thirtieth century.

Obviously, Anderson did not intend his scattered references to future events to amount to a coherent history. Nevertheless, when chronologised in a Timeline, the series does mostly present a past and future history comparable to Anderson's various future history series.

(1) Anderson, Poul, Time Patrol, New York, 2006, p. 42.

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