Monday, 7 July 2014

Multiverse: A Slip In Time

Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois, Editors, Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014).

At the climax of "A Slip in Time" by SM Stirling, Manson Everard, knowing (apparently) that Wanda Everard on a timecycle will see him do it, jumps from a gondola. There are two possibilities:

(i) Wanda sees Manse falling, space-time jumps to a point beneath him and catches him;
(ii) Wanda sees Manse fall to his death, space-time jumps five minutes pastward and to a different point in space and catches him.

(ii) is what happens. In fact, she dives the timecycle to catch him rather than appear beneath him. Apart from this difference, the Manse whom Wanda catches experiences (i), although Wanda has experienced (ii). This is logically odd, to say the least. There is a Manse who experiences a fall to his death. The Manse whom Wanda has saved seems fully to accept this:

"'I had to watch you die, you son of a bitch!' Wanda yelled...
"'Not permanently,' he grinned..." (p. 90)

Not permanently? A version of Manse did die permanently but he experienced only a few more seconds of falling, then nothing. I think that it is out of character for Manson Everard to pull such a stunt. He usually accepts that the Patrol dead stay dead.

Stirling shows us two couples, Van Sarawak and Deirdre, Manse and Wanda, married, with children. This is a logical development, of course, but I do not think that Anderson would have moved his characters' lives forward that fast if he had been able to continue the series. Stirling also brings back Komozino whereas Anderson usually changed the supporting cast.

Anderson had Everard consulting the physician Kwei-Fei Mendoza on the Moon in 2319. Stirling has the Everards visiting the Van Sarawaks on Venus in 2332, only thirteen years later. These are the only two times in the entire series when we see Everard travel any further futureward than the twentieth century.

10 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Nice analysis of Stirling's "A Slip in Time," which I consider one of the better stories in MULTIVERSE. I esp. agree in thinking it was a weak point for Stirling to show Manse Everard actually and truly dying in one of the two scenarios showing Everard jumping from the Austrian gondola. It would have been truer to the spirit of the Time Patrol stories to show Wanda rescuing Manse without him dying.

    Suffered a fracture in my right elbow. The tightly bound wrappings and then cast I will need to wear is making typing somewhat awkward.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's based on the events in "Gibraltar Falls", in fact.

    ReplyDelete
  3. S.M.,
    Yes, that makes sense. Thanks.
    Paul.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Mr. Stirling:

    Darn and drat! Why didn't I think of "Gibraltar Falls"? Yes, you then had precedent for the way you wrote "A Slip in Time." That's enough to resolve any doubts I had about your story.

    And I personally believe the world would have been vastly better off if the assassinations in Sarajevo had never occurred.

    Sincerely, Sean

    ReplyDelete
  5. It probably would have been better without the assassination, but a) we can't be sure, and b) better or not, it wouldn't be -our- world. Probably few people alive today would have been born, for starters.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It probably would have been better without the assassination, but a) we can't be sure, and b) better or not, it wouldn't be -our- world. Probably few people alive today would have been born, for starters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Mr. Stirling:

      I do see what you mean, if the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand had been prevented, the world which followed would not be the world WE see and live in today. Very likely, many of US who live now would never have been born at all.

      I also have to agree that we can't be sure if a timeline where the Sarajevo assassination did not happen would have been been better than what we have actually seen. However, a world spared the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, et al, might also have been better.

      Oh, well, speculations like these is one reason why I find alternate universe science fiction so fascinating!

      Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

      Delete
  7. The odd thing about this otherwise-good story is that it ends prematurely, before the baddies have even been identified. So what we read is basically the preamble to a much longer story, most of which is missing. What there is, is fine, maintaining the original characters and style pretty well.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jonathan,
    Thank you for your comments.
    Paul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Jonathan!

      I'm very glad to see a new commentator here! Yes, I see what you mean about "A Slip In Time" ending prematurely. WHO were the guys who tried to prevent the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand? What were their motivations? And so on.

      And I would have liked to have seen more of the Austria-Hungary we see in Stirling's story. The impression I got was of the Dual Monarchy being the dominant partner of the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey.

      Sean

      Delete