Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The New Time Criminals II

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

"'...the terrorists...are nihilists of some sort, unscrupulous adventurers, criminals, madmen - whatever.'" (p. 231)

Whatever. In other words, convenient villains for a work of fiction. Admittedly, the Patrol agents must concentrate on stopping, not understanding, the terrorists, but, since these "nihilists" are caught alive, hopefully a start will now be made on understanding, not just condemning, their motives. Rational men, not just madmen, often have reasons to go to war and also often fail to understand their enemies.

"'Perhaps something like the Exaltationists or the Neldorians, but they seem to be a different group not previously known to us." (ibid.)

Exaltationists and Neldorians differ considerably so lumping them together is unhelpful. At least three factors make this new group significant:

they were previously unknown;
they initially succeed so that a remnant of the Patrol must mount a counter-intervention as with the Neldorians in the Second Punic War;
they can time travel without time machines.

Ben-Eytan says of the first captured terrorist:

"'...take this character to Patrol Command. They'll find some appropriately unpleasant detention dimension to store him in." (p. 240)

It used to be an exile planet, not a detention dimension. And surely, at least until they complete their mission, these Patrol agents are in the alternative timeline with no access to anyone else in their Patrol?

Everard's arrest of the fifth terrorist becomes a page-long fight scene, prose space that might instead have been used to tell us more about the terrorists? The last scene is Everard's meeting with Wanda with the fear, on our part, that she might have been changed somehow when history was changed and changed back again but, of course, we have a happy ending.

Crushing a poison capsule seems a strange way to deactivate it?

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