Friday, 20 April 2012

Who Were And Will Be The Nine?

The Nine were the Nine Witch-Queens of Ys whose joint reigns ended as the Roman Empire declined about 400 AD. (1) The Nine will be the group who discover time travel in 19352 AD, the 7841st year of the Morennian Triumph, during the break up of the Chorite Heresiarchy. (2) Thus, a Roman/Ysan Nine and a Morennian/Chorite Nine. 

The Nines inhabit not only different periods but also different timelines. In the Ysan timeline, gods are real, magic works and miracles occur. The Olympians, the Three of Ys and Mithras retreat before the growing power of a single god whose ministers work miracles as the Nines' magic fades. In the Time Patrol timeline, time travellers sometimes pose as or are mistaken for gods and their technology seems magical. The first series is historical fantasy. The second is science fiction.

The Ysan Nine, major characters in a tetralogy, are named and individuated and each is replaced on death whereas the Chorite Nine are mentioned only once as a group to introduce the Time Patrol. One of the Ysan Nine senses interstellar space:

" 'The stars are more far away than ever we knew; the cold of those vastnesses comes seeping down over the world, through and through me.' " (3)

The Chorite Nine are part of a galactic civilisation. (4)

Because the latter are mentioned only once, I want to assess their significance. A full analysis of the Ysan Nine, as characters embodying a myth, would require a book. Because the Chorite Nine are, in the work in which they appear, the discoverers of time travel, an analysis of them becomes a discussion of time travel paradox. 

Readers of the Time Patrol probably remember that the Patrol fought Neldorians and Exaltationists but probably also forget this very first group of time criminals. The origin of the Patrol seems paradoxical. Of necessity, there is an original timeline in which time travel was discovered, as it happens by the Nine. There may be several subsequent timelines. Here, "subsequent" is a relationship not between moments in a timeline but between timelines. 

" 'Time travel was old when [the Danellians] emerged, there had been uncountable opportunities for the foolish and the greedy and the mad to go back and turn history inside out.' " (5)

We are told that the Nine would have used time travel to prevent their enemies from being born. Turning history inside out to that extent would almost certainly prevent the sequence of events that had led to the discovery of time travel, at least to its discovery at a particular time and place by the Nine. That would not prevent the Nine from arriving on time vehicles in the further past and preventing the births of their enemies but it would mean that they are no longer in the timeline in which they discovered time travel. In the new timeline, the Nines' younger selves, if they still existed, would never have known those enemies. The new timeline would present unforeseeable challenges: another group discovering time travel at a different time and place? an alternative Nine (or Eight or Ten) resisting help from their time travelling counterparts?

Does humanity evolve into the Danellians in that subsequent timeline? We are told that time travel, though not necessarily multiple divergent timelines, "...was part of the complex which had led to them..." (5) 

The Patrol protects a timeline in which the Nine discover time travel and see its possibilities but then the Danellians arrive from the further future.

" 'The Nine were prevented from carrying out their schemes. And the Patrol was set up to police the time lanes.' " (5)

Did the Danellians not only prevent historical changes caused by the foolish, greedy and mad, including the Nine, but also, as far as possible, restore the original timeline in which the Nine had discovered time travel? The Danellians' main concern is that the Patrol should guard a timeline in which humanity does evolve into the Danellians. Therefore, the guarded timeline is either the original or a composite incorporating both the discovery of time travel by the Nine from the original timeline and the evolution of humanity into Danellians from a subsequent timeline. Anderson does not elaborate because his cursory references to the Heresiarchy, the Nine and the Danellians serve only to set the scene for the Patrol's operations in past history. Like Wells in The Time Machine, Anderson raises more questions than he answers. I suggested that he could write a pre-Patrol Nine novel but that would have been a different ball game.

We do know that the Danellians sometimes order the Patrol to interfere in history, not just to conserve it. Patrolman Everard concludes:

"Don't ask if there ever was any 'original' scheme of things..." (6)

It transpires that the Patrol is necessary not only to apprehend time criminals but also to counteract random fluctuations in space-time-energy. A Danellian says:

" '...left untended, events would inevitably move toward the worse. A cosmos of random changes must be senseless, ultimately self-destructive. In it could be no freedom.' " (7)

But, when an unforeseeable change has occurred, the only solution is for Patrol members who were in the further past and therefore unaffected by the change to travel to a time before the change and prevent it. The Nine, by discovering time travel, made this possible. Their role is crucial. 

(1) Anderson, Poul and Karen, The King of Ys: Roma Mater, London, 1988.
(2) Anderson, Poul, Time Patrol, New York, 2006, pp. 6, 9.
(3) Anderson, Poul and Karen, op. cit., p. 90.
(4) Anderson, op. cit., p. 9.
(5) ibid, p. 11.
(6) ibid, p. 171.
(7) Anderson, Poul, The Shield of Time, New York, 1990, p. 435.

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