Saturday, 15 February 2014

From 976 BC To 1988 AD

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

Part Two has twelve chapters set in six years:

  976 BC (one chapter)
  209 BC (five)
1902 AD (one)
1985 AD (two)
1987 AD (two)
1988 AD (one)

The five chapters set in 209 BC are the main story about the pursuit of the Exaltationists.

The remaining seven are bookends or flashbacks -

- two each about:

Yuri Garshin in Afghanistan;
Everard in conversation with Wanda;
Everard in conversation with Shalten -

- and one about Everard in conversation with Merau Varagan.

Chronologically, the first chapter with Wanda, set in 1987 AD, occurs between two chapters of "The Year Of The Ransom" and the one chapter with Varagan, set in 976 BC, occurs between the concluding two sections of "Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks." Thus, this novel hooks onto what I call the "Thieves of Time," i.e., the two previous encounters with the Exaltationists.

As it progresses, the Time Patrol series becomes more like a single continuous narrative. Everard is based in 1980 in "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" but ends "Star Of The Sea" in 1986, the year he meets Wanda. Thus, the transition from discrete stories with gaps between them to the more continuous narrative occurs between the two "Gods of Time" works.

As Everard enters Bactra in 209 BC:

"To [him] the scene was eerily half-familiar. He had witnessed its like in a score of different lands, in as many different centuries. Each was unique, but a prehistorically ancient kinship vibrated in them all." (p. 24)

To the reader also  the scene is half-familiar because we have read Anderson's earlier descriptions of ancient cities. Everard entered Tyre in pursuit of Exaltationists and now enters Bactra for the same purpose.

The series also hints at future eras, although not always with dates. Everard kids Wanda that, instead of him, she might have preferred to meet:

"'...a hotshot glamour boy, like maybe from the Planetary Engineers milieu.'" (p. 32)

- a different set of Planetary Engineers from the Order of that name in Anderson's Psychotechnic History.

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