Friday, 21 December 2012
I have been diverted from rereading Poul Anderson's fiction by reading David Attenborough's First Life. These diverse works are conceptually connected. Attenborough discusses the emergence of marine and terrestrial animals. Anderson, as a hard science fiction writer, knew that humanity is part of a long biological evolution and imagined similar evolutions occurring elsewhere.
I have had to abandon the preconceptions that animals evolved from plants and that they are necessarily conscious or even mobile. Apparently, it may not have mattered which end of an ancient worm ate and which excreted. Mouths and anuses had not yet been differentiated.
Life as we know it could easily not have happened. It is likely that the protein which enables cells to combine into multicellular organisms emerged by chance in just one cell. Applying Poul Anderson's imagination to this scenario, it is easy to speculate that Danellians or the Time Patrol were involved. Whenever a crucial event might not have happened, the questions arise: will some time traveller try to prevent it from happening? and: will the Patrol be on hand to ensure that it does happen on schedule?
Apart from the historical events on which Anderson focuses, there must have been many pre-human and even pre-biotic occurrences guarded by the Time Patrol.