Friday, 14 February 2014

Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

"Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks" was originally published as the first story in a second Time Patrol collection, Time Patrolman, so it had to summarize the Patrol scenario for new readers or to remind old readers:

"When humans built their first time machine...the Danellian supermen had arrived from farther yet, to organize the police force of the temporal lanes." (p. 250)

The very first Patrol story, "Time Patrol," had presented a lot more detail:

the Nine discover time travel - as a by-product of the search for instantaneous transportation - in 19352 AD, the 7841st year of the Morennian Triumph, during the break up of the Chorite Heresiarchy, an age of galactic commercial and genetic rivalry;

like instantaneous transportation, travel into the past "...requires infinitely discontinuous functions for its mathematical description..'." and "'...involves the concept of infinitely valued relationships in a continuum of 4N dimensions, where N is the total number of particles in the universe'" (p. 9);

the Nine would have prevented the births of their enemies "'[b]ut then the Danellians appeared.'" (p. 11)

All this hard sf background material is unnecessary for the historical science fiction of the Time Patrol series and is omitted in later installments.

Incidentally, when a Patrol recruit remarks:

"'...an event cannot both have happened and not happened. That's self-contradictory.'" (p. 9)

- I agree with her. Her instructor's reply:

"'Only if you insist on a logic which is not Aleph-sub-Aleph-valued...'" (p. 10)

- is gobbledygook - unless anyone can tell me what it means?

An event can have happened in an original timeline and not have happened in a divergent timeline. The Time Patrol would have us believe that, in that case, the original timeline simply does not exist. That is a paradoxical proposition but the Patrol is obliged to consider the consequences even of supposedly nonexistent timelines:

"'...that source perhaps does not exist in our yet, our reality.'"
-The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 135)

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