Sunday, 16 February 2014

31,275,389 B. C.

Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), pp. 127-136.

Book Three, "Before The Gods That Made The Gods," is ten whole pages about a single incident during Wanda Tamberly's time at the Time Patrol Academy in the Oligocene period. After two conversations with Manson Everard in Book Two, Wanda has been eased into the role of an independent character.

There is some more (to me) unfamiliar vocabulary:

"nimravus" (p. 128);
eusmilus (ibid.);
"merycoidodon" (p. 130).

However, the context indicates that these are Oligocene species and, further, they are described for us:

nimravus are "lionlike";
eusmilus are "sabre-toothed";
merycoidodon, rooting in herds, are " giant hogs or small slender hippopotami."

Wanda, the paleontologist, sees what might be a species intermediate between mesohippus and miohippus and remarks how little is known, even with time machines. The natural environment of the Academy is developed more fully than in the original "Time Patrol" although we recognize the "...great brown river..." (p. 129) in both descriptions.

The main event is the conversation with Guion, which I have discussed before. He thinks that, although the Exaltationists have all been caught or killed, they may be related to something larger, not a larger organization or conspiracy but coherent chaos or recurrent events even if such events are not mentioned in extant Patrol records. But those records cover past, present and future...

Again, I am reminded of a Neil Gaiman character: Destiny of the Endless knows what was, is and will be but his younger sister, Delirium, claims to know things that even he does not.

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