Monday, 11 August 2014

A City In The Past And A Crossroads In Time

Manson Everard and Janne Floris visit a walled city that was Oppidum Ubiorum, is Colonia Aggripinensis and will be Koln or Cologne. It is surrounded by campfires, barbarian standards, leather tents, horses, cattle, sheep, warriors and legionaries.

Instead of commuting to twentieth century Amsterdam, they camp on a hill surrounded by woods to the horizon. Time travelers seeking understanding must immerse themselves in the wilderness that pervades first century life.

Janne says, "'...we are not at the divergence point yet...We are exploring the background of it.'" (Time Patrol, p. 541)

They know that there is a divergence point because they have a text from the divergent timeline but how did they obtain such a text? This is not fully explained. Sociologists studying second century Rome, wanting to consult Tacitus, borrowed the Histories from a private library and found that it differed from the standard version. My attempted explanation, suggested to Anderson in correspondence, was that:

to enter the library undetected, a sociologist had to travel a short distance uptime;
he was so near the potential divergence point that, when he traveled through the crucial moment, he entered the (then highly probable) divergent timeline, borrowed the book, then reentered the Patrol timeline when he traveled back downtime to rejoin his colleagues.

This is wrong because the sociologists are in the second century whereas the divergence point, whether Heidhin does or does not commit suicide, is in the first century. Some more complicated explanation is necessary.

That idea of entering, then leaving, a merely probable timeline does not fit in with my theory of timelines succeeding each other along a second temporal dimension but I am trying to make sense of this particular story. What is good is that Anderson fully integrates well realized historical scenes with the intricacies of time travel and goes far beyond Wells in this respect.

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