Tuesday, 25 February 2014

To Arrange A Disaster III

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

Everard's confusion continues:

"'Our orders are to make these people give up their exploration. What happens afterward is none of our business. So they don't make it home. We won't be the proximate cause, any more than you're a murderer if you invite a man to dinner and he has a fatal accident on the way.'" (p. 152)

Sorry, Manse. Your orders, as explained by Sandoval on p. 133, were precisely to arrange whatever disaster it was that prevented the Mongols from returning home. Just before misquoting their orders to his colleague, Everard had reflected that it was within his power to:

"Swoop down from above, fire a few blasts from the forty-first-century energy gun mounted in this timecycle, and that's the end..." (p. 151)

That is interesting. I never noticed before that the gun mounted in the timecycle is from the forty first century. I compiled quite a comprehensive Chronology of the Time Patrol earlier but did not include for the forty first century the manufacture of energy guns used in Time Patrol timecycles. Those cycles are amazing artefacts. They can:

fly and hover;
disappear at any time or place on Earth and appear at any other time or place without seeming to expend any energy.

Insofar as the time traveler sits on, instead of being enclosed by, the timecycle, this vehicle is like an updated, streamlined, improved, mass-produced descendant of HG Wells' elaborate nineteenth century contraption - although Anderson also imagined time corridors, psychic time travel and other kinds of time machines. His hall mark was consistent comprehensiveness.

Back to Everard in 1280, his response to the possibility of killing the Mongols is:

"No, by God, they can send me to the exile planet before I'll do any such thing. There are decent limits." (ibid.)

But might there be periods in which the Danellians do work with human beings who operate like that? Ironically, we last see Everard, in 1307, leading a Patrol team that breaks into a Parisian house and loots it of artifacts that will be displayed in museums uptime. But the robbery is a cover for rescuing a Patrolman detained in the house. It is not, we are to understand, the Patrol's usual modus operandi.

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