Monday, 24 March 2014

Time Leaper

Poul Anderson, Past Times (New York, 1984).

In Poul Anderson's "Welcome," Tom Barlow calls himself a "time leaper, " (p. 61), not a time traveler. He can only "leap" futureward. But where is he while he leaps?

He experiences some duration, less than half an hour, while the world endures for five centuries. However, he is not enclosed by any artifact like an invisible "time machine" or a visible stasis box nor is he himself visible to external observers. They see him arrive or appear in 2497. They know where and when he will arrive, and are able to prepare a place for his coming, because he left "...messages...sealed into marked blocks of concrete..." (ibid).

So where is he and what does he see around him during his less than half an hour of time leaping in "...the superenergy state..." (p. 58), from which he is said to emerge? Our inability to answer this question strikes me as one detail that Anderson, uncharacteristically, did not think through while writing the story. We can regard the unanswered question simply as a mystery or as an issue that could be addressed if the story were ever to be adapted into a visual medium.

No comments: