Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Circular Causality In Beringia

Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991).

The Paleo-Indians believe that they have reached their Promised Land;
wanting to see how they settle into it, Corwin checks uptime but finds that for some as yet unknown reason they will move on the following spring;
knowing this, Wanda provides the reason.

Thus, she has interfered but not changed known events, although she has caused them, and is reprimanded but also pardoned by the Patrol. (Is it possible to be both reprimanded and pardoned?)

One consequence of her hearing is that she is shown "'...the records'...'Consequences of time gone awry.'" (p. 253)

What is she shown? And how many such records are there? This clearly means records not of causal circles such as she has just been involved in but of causality violations that have happened but then been annulled as when Hannibal sacked Rome and Carthage won the Second Punic War in one of Everard's earlier cases. When Everard asks:

"'How many others have there been?'" (p. 262)

- he realizes that the question is absurd in English but, before he can re-express it in Temporal, he is told:

"'That is a problem inherently insolvable. Think about it.'
"Everard did." (ibid.)

But we are not told what he thought. The Patrol must be able to count how many such temporal catastrophes it has addressed - unless it is thought that there were some catastrophes in which all of the records and memories were changed?

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