Tuesday, 25 February 2014

To Arrange A Disaster

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

The Mongol expedition that entered North America in 1280 AD never returned to China so it must have met a disaster. Specialist John Sandoval of the Time Patrol tells Unattached Agent Everard that he has been ordered "'...to arrange that disaster. To revise history myself!'" (p. 133)

Sandoval is used to observing, not intervening, so he needs help from an Unattached Agent. However, arranging a disaster is not what Everard and he set out to do.

"'We don't have to kill them, you know. Just make them turn back. Your demonstration this afternoon [killing a deer with a machine gun] may be enough.'" (p. 146)

Sorry, Jack, but arranging a disaster and making them turn back are no way the same thing. What has to be prevented is their arrival back in China and making them turn back will not prevent that. It is more likely to cause it. Everard responds:

"'Yeah. Turn back...and what? Probably perish at sea. They won't have an easy trip home - storm, fog, contrary currents, rocks - in those primitive ships meant mostly for rivers.'" (ibid.)

But that would be equally true whether the Mongols are turned back early by the Patrolmen or whether they start their return trip later. (Interruption for food.)

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