Sunday, 13 July 2014

Multiverse: Gondwanaland III

Robert Silverberg, "Christmas in Gondwanaland" IN Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois, Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014), pp. 215-244.

Robert Silverberg's Time Patrol story:

contains a major prima facie contradiction (see recent posts);
addresses the contradiction through a question asked by the viewpoint character, Everard;
at first presents a contradictory response - "We exist and we don't exist" (p. 218);
then presents another response, inconsistent with the first and implausible in itself.

First response:

"'...[the Danellians] want things put back to rights at Alpha Point, and they have chosen the five of us to fix the damage, and the fact that you and I are sitting here talking right now is proof that we will succeed in doing so.'" (p. 221)

A timeline in which the founding of the Patrol was prevented back at Alpha Point and a timeline in which the damage has been fixed so that Everard and Ben-Eytan can meet in 1920s Paris are two different timelines. They can meet in the second timeline only after, not before, they have deleted the first.

Second response:

"'...[the Danellians] gather an entirely different set of Founders...and that group works out the governing principles of what we here are calling Time Patrol II. That Patrol proceeds to carry out all the fixes that the original Patrol did, or enough of that the world...closely resembles the one that we used to live in.'" (pp. 229-230)

So Everard and Ben-Eytan are sitting in Paris because there is a Time Patrol II at work, not because they will necessarily succeed in their mission.

Mr Silverberg, if you are anywhere near this blog, I am enjoying engaging with your story but must go out for an important meeting right now!

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