Thursday, 20 February 2014

Three Successive Timelines

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

(i) Lorenzo de Conti does not make a flank attack at the battle of Rignano.
(ii) Lorenzo makes a flank attack and wins the battle.
(iii) Lorenzo makes a flank attack but is stunned by Everard who, of course, had not been anywhere near the battlefield in (i).

(i) is the original timeline guarded by the Patrol.
(ii) is an aberration to be annulled.
(iii) is what the Danellians and the Patrol must learn to live with, not (i) fully restored but a patched together timeline that approximates (i) to the best of their ability.

Everard remembers meeting Lorenzo in 1138alpha. On the battlefield in 1137, Lorenzo of course does not recognize Everard but grins "...gamely..." (p. 346) and responds to Everard's challenge. We can meet a man in one set of circumstances and imagine how he would respond in different circumstances whereas a Time Patrolmen can experience both sets of circumstances.

Wanda Tambery deduces that a fellow Patrol agent, who turns out to be Keith Denison, is a prisoner in 1989alpha and rescues him in 1984alpha. Having been captured in 1980alpha, Keith is grateful to Wanda for sparing him those extra five years. But she spares him more than that. Other things being equal, he would have continued to live indefinitely after 1989alpha. There is an alpha timeline in which Keith was a prisoner from 1980alpha through 1984alpha and 1989alpha until some unknown date after that. And there is another timeline, we had better call it alpha (ii), in which he was a prisoner only from 1980alpha until 1984alpha.

In 1138alpha, Lorenzo declares that Sicily will be brought "'...back to Christ!'" (p. 333)

Everard thinks, "To the Inquisition...To the persecution of Jews, Muslims, and Orthodox Christians. To the burning of heretics." (ibid.)

I was brought up in Lorenzo's religious tradition but am now a heretic.

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