Sunday, 23 February 2014

How Time Travelers Appear As Gods

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006); The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991).

How often do Time Patrol agents masquerade as supernatural beings - gods, angels or demons? More often than we might think.

(i) Everard's and Whitcomb's Jutish host sends a boy to accompany them to the river. Not wanting to walk that far, Everard calls their timecycle from where it hovers above and tells the boy:

"'Know that thou hast guested Woden and Thunor, who will hereafter guard thy folk from harm.'" (TP, pp. 33-34)

My first thought was that this is irresponsible. The boy, expecting divine protection, will be badly let down when it is not forthcoming. However, that is the wrong mindset. The experience will fade in memory and, in any case, the gods are not believed to be omnipotent.

(ii) Everard and Denison appear as angels to terrorize Astyages and prevent him from ordering the assassination of the infant Cyrus.

(iii) Having warned a Mongol leader that, if he advances any further into North America, then Badguys sorcerors or subtle engineers will annihilate his expedition with thunderbolts, Everard uses a weather control system from the Cold Centuries to generate an impressive lightning display and also projects onto the horizon a giant image of his colleague's Indian war dance. Because the Mongols are undeterred, Everard must later swoop down to kill their horses and burn their ships.

(iv) A shipwreck survivor reports seeing men on flying chariots fighting with flames, an "'...onslaught of demons...'" (TP, p. 313)

(v) Carl Farness accepts that he must appear as Odin to betray his followers. It is written - in the Volsungasaga.

(vi) Janne Floris appears as the goddess Niaerdh to guide her prophetess, Veleda.

(vii) When Time Patrolmen have apprehended a time criminal above the siege of Cuzco, Everard tells one of them, "'...your operation is part of history.'" (TP, p. 727) Apparitions of the Virgin and of St James were reported.

(viii) "To Yuri Alexeievitch Garshin, the captain appeared as an angel from his grandmother's Heaven." (ST, p. 11) This Time Patrol agent claims to be an army captain, not an angel, but would have known how his appearance was likely to affect Garshin psychologically.

(ix) "'You have seen the wrath of Poseidon...'" (ST, p. 114) Thus, Everard explains a Patrol intervention to a witness. Again, he makes promises that he cannot keep but that does not matter. He does give a lot of help when he is able to.

(x) When Paleo-Indians kill the native Beringian, Aryuk, Wanda Tamberly of the Time Patrol takes Aryuk from before his death to after his death so that he can appear to his killers as a ghost, terrifying them into moving on and thus ceasing their oppression of his people.

(xi) Everard appears as an angel to change Lorenzo de Conti's course of action.

(xii) Everard says that Patrol agents in the Middle Mohenjodaro office often disguise themselves with wings and halos.

And, in The Corridors Of Time, a time traveler tells a twentieth century man that she is the Goddess.

By contrast, in "Death And The Knight," the Patrol could extract their imprisoned colleague on a timecycle but must avoid anything that would resemble magic or divine intervention so instead they must stage a robbery and kidnapping.

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