Monday, 24 February 2014
The Only Game In Town
On the floor of Manson Everard's New York apartment lies a polar bear rug given to Everard by Bjarni Herjulfsson. We later learn that Everard accompanied Bjarni to the New World and also that Everard will remove the rug when it gets scruffy and when too many people reproach him for it. (Fashions must change fast at the Time Patrol Academy and Pleistocene lodge: Everard's generation hunts the wild life whereas Wanda's photographs it.)
As a complement to Anderson's Time Patrol series, we should mention Harry Harrison's humorous The Technicolor Time Machine which explains how time travelers founded Vinland.
I thought that there was a contradiction in section 1 of "The Only Game In Town." When Everard asks Specialist John Sandoval why the Chinese discovery of North America requires his, Everard's, services, Sandoval replies, "'I wish to hell I knew...'" (p. 129).
However, at the end of the section, Sandoval does know that the mission is not to spy on the expedition but to cause the disaster that is necessary to prevent it from returning home. The contradiction is only apparent. Sandoval did know all along but was reluctant to say it. His "'I wish to hell I knew...'" meant that he wondered why the Patrol was now not preserving history but causing it.
Kublai Khan sent an expedition that never returned and the record was destroyed during the Ming revolt. So the expedition departed and something must have prevented it from returning. Sandoval's job, for which he needs Unattached help, is not to find out what prevented it but to prevent it.
Section 2 summarizes a lot of history which I will look at next time.