Monday, 24 February 2014
What We Want To Know More About
Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series discloses much about the Patrol and its main adversaries, the Exaltationists, but three other groups are also important:
the Nine discovered time travel but are mentioned only once;
the Danellians founded the Time Patrol but are mentioned briefly and usually kept in the background;
the Neldorians are time bandits but appear in only a single story which, for a decade and a half, was the culminating installment of the series.
The impression generated is that the Nine and the Danellians had to be mentioned to explain the origin of the Patrol but that thereafter the emphasis was meant to be on particular stories set in the past, not in the future. The Neldorians had to be mentioned as the source of a causality violation but, otherwise, were described as briefly as possible.
When Everard has deduced that the Scipios died at Ticinus, Van Sarawak infers:
"'Somebody must have knocked them off...Some time traveler. It could only have been that.'" (p. 219)
"'Well, it seems probable, anyhow. We'll see.'" (ibid.)
Does he mean probable that the turning point was at Ticinus or probable that time travelers were involved? He does not yet know of any other source of causality violations although another source does come to light much later in The Shield Of Time.
The Neldorians are from the two hundred and fifth millennium, described as "...an age of bandits..." (p. 221). What does that mean? It would be interesting to learn more.
The history of the altered timeline states that, after winning the Roman Wars:
"'...the Carthaginian government was too venal to remain strong. Hannibal himself was assassinated by men who thought his honesty stood in their way.'" (p 201)
The writers of this history knew nothing of time travelers but Time Patrol spies learn that two Helvetian mercenaries called Phrontes and Himilco joined Hannibal in the Alps and gained his confidence, then, after the war, practically ran the government, organized Hannibal's murder and "...set new records for luxurious living." (p. 221) They look like Neldorians.
While some Patrolmen spy on the Neldorians, others rescue colleagues from "...more or less ignominious situations..." (ibid.) in the altered timeline. It is added:
"...another score would simply have to be written off." (ibid.)
But how is it known that the missing score had time traveled forward into the altered timeline and not into the original timeline?
The same question applies to Wanda in The Shield Of Time. She arrives back at the lodge and confirms that she has been in the alpha timeline but, before her return, Everard was certain that she was lost in the alpha timeline whereas, for all he knew, she could have traveled forward into the original timeline.