Monday, 24 March 2014
References In Time Heals
In Poul Anderson's "Time Heals" IN Anderson, Dialogue With Darkness (New York, 1985), pp. 165-191, before entering the temporal stasis of "'...a level-entropy field...'" (p. 166), Philip Hart remembers:
"the Seven Sleepers," a Christian and also a Muslim story about a group of religiously persecuted youths in suspended animation in a cave;
Herla, a British king who visited the Otherworld and led the Wild Hunt, then returned two hundred years later after the Anglo-Saxon invasions;
Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor who, according to legend, sleeps and will come again;
Holger Danske, who sleeps until Denmark needs him and is the hero of Anderson's Three Hearts And Three Lions;
Tannhauser, Wagner's opera about a minstrel detained for over a year in the magical mountain of Venusberg.
The irony of "Time Heals" is that Hart remains in stasis until his cancer can be healed but then is unable to fit into the changed society so that he loses his sanity and must be put back into stasis until his insanity can be cured, by which time society will have changed yet again.
Before becoming "...completely catatonic..." (p. 190), Hart, reflecting on social change, remembers:
"...the wistful reminiscences of old men who had grown up in that forever lost world between the Congress of Vienna and the murder at Sarajevo..." (p. 181)
That apparently stable period is visited in Anderson's Time Patrol novel, The Shield Of Time, and the phrase, "...that forever lost world...," recalls the theme of innocence lost that pervades the Time Patrol series.
It is all too easy for the reader to regard the people of 2837 as retarded because of the way they speak:
"'Dis are yaar 2837, du would say.'" (p. 173)
- but Anderson's only point is that language has changed without yet becoming incomprehensible, not that these people are unable to pronounce English correctly.
The year that we call 2837 is by then called 2841 because an intervening theocracy has adjusted the calender to reflect Christ's real birth year. I once told a Religious Education class in a secondary school that, because of a mistake when our calender was formulated, the individual called Jesus was born in the year that we call 4 BC. Some of the pupils were so keen to seize the chance to laugh openly at me for the supposed absurdity of saying that Christ was born before Christ that I honestly think that they were missing the quite simple point. (I got into school teaching by accident and out by design. At present in Britain, 40% of those who enter the profession leave it within five years.)
Differences From "Welcome"
A world population of half a billion, not fifteen billion!
The person propelled into the future experiences not greatly reduced duration but zero duration, thus nothing.
We are told exactly where he is, inside a totally reflecting, self-maintaining cubical field six or seven feet on a side, stored in a casket in a vault and penetrable only by a neutralizing field.
Time is a fourth dimension, therefore rigid, not flowing. The arrow of time is the increase of entropy. Therefore, the level-entropy field has no internal time, thus also no time in which to decay.
"'...ruwm duurs...'" (p. 178) means "your room;"
"'...goal nos...'" (p. 186) means "our goal;"
as in "Welcome," the Russian word for "comrade" is in general use.
Rule by the Church of the Second Coming.
Asian invasion of America.
Mechaniolatry of Australian Reformers.
Martian colonials' invasion of Luna.
Scientific State, eugenic modifications for interplanetary colonization.
Retirement of the Dissenters.
Evolution of the family groups.
Politics And Economics in 2837/2841
colonists of Venus, Mars, outer planets and other systems now radically different from Terrestrials;
one rule of Earth and Lunar cave-cities;
personal life, relationships and work no longer governed by chance but entirely guided by psychometry and preventive psychiatry - you can be told whom you will happily marry and for how long.