Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Long Remembering

The Shape Of Things To Come by HG Wells refers to
An Experiment With Time by JW Dunne which refers to
The Time Machine by HG Wells.

Other works of fiction or literature referring to Dunne are:

The Gap In The Curtain by John Buchan;
Time And The Conways by JB Priestley;
Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce;
"The Dark Tower" by CS Lewis;
"The Long Remembering" by Poul Anderson.

 The hero of "The Long Remembering" vividly remembers and relives some experiences of one of his own Old Stone Age ancestors of maybe twenty thousand years ago. Thus, despite one reference to minds moving back along world lines, he does not, like Olaf Stapledon's Last Men, mentally travel into the past to occupy the body of a member of an earlier generation observing through that body's sense organs so this is not time travel.

In "The Long Remembering":

three and a half pages are narrated by Armand, a chemistry graduate assistant who has volunteered for a psychophysical experiment in which his body will lie unconscious for several hours while his mind scans an ancestor's brain for the same period although, while scanning, he will not remember having been Armand;

nine pages are narrated by Arghnach-eskaladuan-torkluk, He Who Casts The Rope Against The Horse, true name held secret from warlocks and wind ghosts, of the Men who are in conflict with the goblins;

one and a half pages are narrated by Armand who, after the experiment, knows that the Men were Cro-Magnons and the goblins were Neanderthals.

Thus, what could have been written as a fantasy of ghosts and goblins is instead a science fiction story about a new technique of historical research. Arghnach is a genius who:

while riding a log across a river, thinks of hollowing the log to sit inside it, thus keeping his feet dry;

reasons that his fathers drove off the "goblins" "...because they could think more widely and run more swiftly. Thus they could kill more game and raise more children." (Anderson, Homeward And Beyond, New York, 1976, p. 35);

plans to lead the Men to take more lands from the goblins - whereas Armand feels sorry for them.

Armand also has the problem that his twentieth century wife in her artificial environment compares unfavourably with Arghnach's wife who lives with sun, wind, weather and cookfire. He had described the experiment as Faustian and, at the end, pays the price. 

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