Friday, 14 February 2014

Merau Varagan's Procedure

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

Manson Everard thinks that the Exaltationists must have done their basic Tyrian research in the court of King Abibaal twenty six years earlier "...after bombing the temple, leaving the ransom note, and probably making the attempt on Everard - after, that is, in terms of their world lines, their continuity of experience." (p 318)

Why must they have issued their threat to commit the crime before researching their ability to commit it? Surely it would have been the other way around?

Everard reasons that it would have been easy to pick their initial target and that:

"The preliminary mischief would have given Varagan an idea as to the feasibility of his entire scheme. Having decided that it would be worth a substantial investment of lifespan and effort, he thereupon sought the detailed knowledge, the kind that seldom gets into books, which he would need in order to do a really thorough job of wrecking this society." (ibid.)

This does make more sense as I transcribe it. However, it remains a deduction on Everard's part. What Anderson wants is a neat resolution of the story. If the Exaltationists had in fact done their research first, then, when the Patrol attacks the Exaltationists back during King Abibaal's reign, they might kill or apprehend a particular Exaltationist and thus prevent him from traveling twenty six years forward, staking out the Patrol base and attempting to kill Everard. Thus, the Everard who, with Pum's help, had foiled an assassination attempt (on himself) will travel forward in time to encounter an Everard who had not had to foil any assassination attempt. I think that this kind of duplication would occur more often than Anderson recognized. (In fact, I discussed this with Anderson.)

In "The Year Of The Ransom," Vasquez reports from a timeline in which a conquistador and a friar had disappeared from inside a treasure house. But the Patrol puts them back in the treasure house. Therefore, there is no longer a timeline in which it was reported that they had disappeared and the Vasquez who was in that timeline no longer exists. But will this not prevent Vasquez from reporting to Everard about that timeline in 1885? No doubt the Patrol understands to what extent it can alter events without causing greater, undesirable changes.

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