Thursday, 31 July 2014

Stupor Mundi

(Last post for July.)

In 1245beta AD, Emperor Frederick, known as Stupor Mundi, "the Amazement of the World," when introduced to the Eddas, sagas and skaldic poems, says:

"'You open another whole universe!'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 396.

That is what it feels like when, imaginatively, we can get right outside our inherited world view. I remember my amazement on learning that:

the Buddha was not a strange god but a compassionate man;
the Norse gods were to die at the Ragnarok;
the Aeneid links the Trojan Horse to Romulus and Remus;
there were not only comic strips but also novels that dealt with spaceships, robots and aliens - but also with adult relationships (whereas Dan Dare had never got organized with Professor Peabody).

Frederick says, "'...if time allows...,' not 'God' as a medieval man ordinarily would." (p. 395) Does he somehow know that he is in a divergent timeline or that, in this timeline, the state will engulf the church, just as, in alpha, the church had engulfed the state?


"'I think you're describing a logically impossible situation. I'll grant the possibility of time travel, seeing that we're here, but an event cannot both have happened and not happened. That's self-contradictory.'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 9.

The statement that this event happened does contradict the statement that this event did not happen. How does the Time Patrol instructor respond?

"'Only if you insist on a logic which is not Aleph-sub-Aleph-valued,' said Kelm." (p. 10)

This sentence is completely meaningless. Just in case it did turn out to have some meaning, I have just googled "Aleph-sub-Aleph-valued logic" and all that came up was this sentence in the first Time Patrol story.

Surely all that needs to be said is either that there is a single discontinuous timeline in which an event did not happen even though there are what have to be regarded as spurious memories of it or that there are two timelines? Discussion in the Time Patrol series alternates between these two accounts although I think that the second account is the only way to make overall sense of the series. While they are in a timeline, Time Patrollers state that it is possible that this timeline does not exist and that is self-contradictory.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Time Machine And The Time Patrol III

In HG Wells' The Time Machine, published in 1895, The Time Traveler demonstrates time traveling by sending a model time machine into the past or future. In Poul Anderson's "Time Patrol," published in 1955, Manson Everard sends a message capsule from New York, 1954, to London, 1894, and receives a typewritten reply a few minutes later.

The dates and the similarity between the model time machine and the message capsule are subliminal parallels between the two works. My advice to anyone who wants to know what science fiction is about is: read Wells, then Anderson.

Everard had contacted the London office about an indication of time travel in a famous literary work. His message had arrived before similar ones from 1923 and 1960 and Patrolman Mainwethering expects to receive many more. It is curious to think that Patrol offices must communicate by letters or notes in message capsules. They have no inter-temporal equivalent of telephone or radio.

The last Time Patrol story was published in 1995.

The Time Machine And The Time Patrol II

Wells would present an idea, then rule out a sequel - the Time Traveler fails to return, the Cavorite Sphere is lost - whereas Poul Anderson's "Time Patrol" was clearly written to initiate a series. Manson Everard is recruited to the Time Patrol. Further adventures can and do follow.

Wells would have done better to write either sequels or new, original "Fantastic and Imaginative Romances," rather than repetitive social propaganda. CS Lewis remarked somewhere that Wells "...sold his birthright for a pot of message...," although some people might say that of Lewis.

Sequels allow for development and refinement of fictional concepts. Neldorian time bandits are replaced as the collective villain by the more sophisticated Exaltationist egoists. There is a much more detailed discussion of historical causality violation in The Shield Of Time than in "Delenda Est." And a new idea is introduced: causality violation not by extra-temporal intervention but by random space-time-energy fluctuation.

The Time Machine And The Time Patrol

The Time Traveler's single Time Machine is spatially stationary whereas the Time Patrol's many timecycles can hover, fly and teleport as well as time travel but the most curious difference is that a timecycle disappears from one set of spatio-temporal coordinates and appears at another, simultaneously from its rider's or riders' perspective(s), whereas the Time Machine and its single Traveler remain invisibly and intangibly present while the rest of the universe fast forwards or rewinds around them.

The Time Traveler erroneously ascribes both his undetectability and his "time traveling" to the acceleration of his motion along the temporal dimension although he has already correctly stated that everything merely extends along that dimension. If everything did move along time and if he accelerated, then he would leave everything else behind. He is clearly not accelerating but decelerating all his psychophysical processes almost to the point of stasis and should remain both visible and tangible like an impregnable statue.

Humanity devolves into Eloi and Morlocks or evolves into Danellians. Wells addresses the future of man and life whereas Anderson addresses many historical periods. The Patrol addresses all those "...curious possibilities of anachronism and of utter confusion..." that time traveling suggests to Wells' outer narrator.

Anderson is Wells' main successor.

"The Wrong World"

Poul Anderson does a good job of avoiding glaring inconsistencies in his Time Patrol series. The passage with which I had most difficulties was the following.

"'...if we resolve this and restore the proper course of history, the hiatus will never have happened. As far as Patrollers stationed here are concerned, everything will always have been normal'...
"'But I will have had quite a different experience.'
"'Up until the turning point moment, sometime later this year. Then, if we're lucky, an agent will come and tell you it's all okay. You won't remember anything you did thenceforth, because 'now' you won't do those things. Instead, you'll simply proceed with your life and work as you did before today.'
"'You mean that while I am in the wrong world, I must know that everything I do and see and think will become nothing?'
"'If we succeed. I know the prospect for you isn't quite pleasant, but it's not really like death. We count on your sense of duty.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 316.

What does all this mean? Everard is reassuring Koch who is based in the twelfth century. Later "this year, " 1137, the timeline diverges from the history guarded by the Time Patrol but agents like Everard are trying to rectify the course of events. Other "Patrollers stationed here..." do not know and hopefully will not have to know. Koch "...won't remember anything [he] did henceforth..." Of course not. We do not remember actions in advance! Nevertheless, in the divergent timeline, Koch will perform some actions. I have argued that it is meaningless to state that these actions "'...will become nothing."

We are contemplating at least three timelines:

(i) a timeline without the random space-time-energy fluctuation that changed the course of medieval history;
(ii) a timeline including that fluctuation and its effects but also the Patrol's preparations to counteract it;
(iii) the "restored" timeline in which the fluctuation occurs but its effects are immediately counteracted by the Patrol so that history proceeds as it should.

Koch, in slightly different versions, exists in all three timelines. (ii) does not become nothing but is succeeded, along a second temporal axis, by (iii). Everard's use of the word "...'now'..." in inverted commas is a tacit recognition of this second temporal axis. In timeline (ii), some Patrollers, including Koch, will live for the rest of their lives in what Koch calls "'...the wrong world...'" but they will also hope that Everard and others who have disappeared from that timeline have traveled into (iii).

Causal Loops And Temporal Vortices

When Manson Everard of the Time Patrol investigates the disappearance, in Peru, 1533, of Patrol Specialist Stephen Tamberly, Tamberly's wife, Helen, asks:

"'There'll be a report in the files. Can't you go at once and read it? Or, or skip ahead in time and ask your future self? Why must we go through this?'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 670.

We know the answer. If Everard's future self tells him that he failed, then how can Everard try to succeed? Indeed, he would then be trying to change events whereas the Patrol is meant to preserve them - although this is what Everard did in "Brave To Be A King," unless the Patrol instructed its Records Department to lie by saying that Keith Denison never returned from ancient Persia?

Everard replies in part:

"'Causal loops can too easily turn into temporal vortices.'" (p. 671)

Here the concept of a "vortex" is used again without explanation. If a causal loop is the circular causality paradox and if a vortex is the causality violation paradox, then how can the former become the latter? The difference is between me causing my parents to meet and me preventing them from meeting.

However, Everard does elucidate:

"'Just think how our actions would be influenced by what we believed was foreknowledge.'" (ibid.)

If we believe that we will succeed and therefore do not try hard enough, then we will fail. Thus, an attempt to benefit from a causal loop might instead cause a causality violation.

The Book Of Time

See here.

Staying with the book analogy, let us consider three kinds of people.

A non-time traveler is a single world line with memories accumulating from left to right across one page of the book.

A time traveler who remains in a single timeline is several world lines of different lengths. Within each world line, his memories accumulate from left to right. However, in his subjective experience, any given world line might exist later than one to its right, i.e., if he has traveled into the past.

A time traveler who, having traveled into the past, returns futureward but arrives in an alternative timeline - he comprises at least one world line on page x of the book and at least one world line on page x+1. Having arrived on page x+1, he might think that page x has ceased to exist or even that it has never existed. However, from the perspective of those who remained om page x, he has disappeared. He has departed on a time journey but has not re-appeared at any other point along their timeline.

The 1950's

Yesterday, I revisited the area where I grew up sixty years ago and this involved a visit to an inn several centuries old. Immediately, we see the appeal of biographies, histories, historical fiction and time travel fiction.

To live through the 1950's and '60's in Penrith, Cumberland, recording events and experiences for the Time Patrol - I would:

see my mother and younger self attending a Latin-rite Catholic Church;
read the newspapers, knowing in general what was to come;
watch the two British TV channels - in fact, only one of them accessible there until some time in the '60's;
avoid political arguments - what would be the point, knowing in advance the outcome of every election and the long term future of mankind?

A time traveler can more easily adopt the non-attached but hopefully also compassionate attitude that some of us approach through meditation.

The Hyper-Matrix Revisited

See here.

I compared successive timelines to the pages of a book but this comparison is incomplete. When reading a book, we can turn the pages either way and can reread earlier pages. The pages coexist. They are spatially, not temporally, related to each other.

In the Time Patrol series, the timelines are temporally related. They are before and after each other and are causally related. A time traveler leaving timeline 1 generates timeline 2. Thus, when attention is on timeline 2, it cannot return to timeline 1 except by remembering that timeline and conscious beings whose existence is confined to timeline 2 have no way of remembering timeline 1.

It follows that two temporal dimensions are involved. To stay with the analogy of the book, the horizontal dimension of each page represents the familiar temporal dimension that each of us experiences from birth to death, that I am experiencing now as I cause words to appear on the screen and that you experience when you read the words successively. The process of turning the pages - in this case, it can be in one direction only - represents a second temporal dimension experienced only by time travelers who pass between timelines.

In the second temporal dimension, a time traveler who has arrived in timeline 2 says that timeline 1 no longer exists but this does not alter the fact that the people whose world lines existed in timeline 1 did experience their lives from birth to death. After someone has died, we do not say that he did not exist and there is no reason to say this from the perspective of a subsequent timeline. Within timeline 2, i.e., on a single page of the book, it is true to say that an inhabitant of timeline 1 has never existed. We are used to thinking of events as occurring only within a single temporal dimension so confusion is caused by trying to think of two temporal dimensions simultaneously.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Hyper-Matrix Of The Continuum

World lines can be represented by curving lines on a sheet of paper.

Each timeline in the Time Patrol series could be represented by a different sheet.

Such sheets could be bound together as the pages of a book.

Each page represents an entire four-dimensional space-time continuum.

The pattern of curving lines on any given sheet is the matrix of a particular continuum.

The entire book is the "hyper-matrix" to which Guion seeks "'...a clue...'" (The Shield Of Time, p. 8).

Guion wants to find out if there is any way to intuit the relationships between the pages of the book because he already knows that there are successive pages and that they interact. What is the matrix of the next page after ours?

The world line of a human being is simply that person as a psychophysical organism enduring or extending from birth to death.

Each point on the curving line represents a moment in that person's life.

When awake, the person remembers "past" moments and anticipates "future" moments.

A hypothetical reader of the book sees no present moment on the page but knows that, at each moment, points to the left are regarded as past and those to the right as future.

When the reader turns from page 1 to page 2, he no longer sees the lines on page 1 but this does not negate the fact that each human being represented on page 1 was conscious, when not asleep, from birth to death. The person's life was not chopped off at any intermediate point because the page was turned.

Sailors On The Seas Of Time

"...his shipmates, his friends - they died and their kin mourned them, as would be the fate of seafarers for the next several thousand years...and afterwards spacefarers, timefarers..."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 325.

A fascinating progression - from sea to space to time. Are time travelers mourned by their kin? And the faring has come full circle because the time travelers are now back among the Phoenician seafarers of the tenth century BC.

"'...something made me stop by the temple of Tanith on my way back and put oil in a lamp - not for them, understand, but for all poor mariners, on whom rests the well-being of Tyre.'" (p. 302)

Anderson describes space travel in many other works, including one novel entitled Starfarers. In his Time Patrol series, the linking of sea travel with time travel makes it appropriate that two important meetings involving time travelers occur on sea shores.

"Right and left the strand reached..." (p. 570)

I would like to quote this descriptive passage in full but it is too long. Everard and Floris of the Patrol, tracking the pagan prophetess, Veleda, back through time, know that she will disembark on this beach in 43 AD so they wait... Another passage worthy rereading is the prayer to Mary on pp. 639-640. She is asked to lay her gentleness on the seas...

Finally, Manse and Wanda walk along a beach where a Danellian appears and tells them the meaning of the Patrol.

How Many Temporal Catastrophes?

(Delay and possible cancellation of Lake District trip.)

Guion refers to a temporal "'...catastrophe...'" (The Shield Of Time, p. 262) that involved the Second Punic War. Everard asks, "'How many others have there been?'" (ibid.), to which Guion replies:

"'That is a problem inherently insolvable. Think about it.'
"Everard did." (ibid.)

Why is it insoluble? The Patrol must know how many divergent timelines they have records of - although they never know how many they are yet to experience. This is the central paradox of the series. Anyone traveling into his past and returning to his present can find that he is in an altered present and this can happen at any stage of a Patroller's career.

Wanda is shown records of "'...time gone awry...'" (p. 253). How many records is she shown? Those alternative timelines can affect the current timeline. Guion tells Wanda:

"'...think of the countless world lines intermeshed throughout the cosmos as a spider's web. A touch on one strand trembles through many. A disruption somewhere changes the configuration of the whole...There are occasions when we know only that the web is troubled, not where or when the source of the disturbance lies; for that source perhaps does not exist in our yet, our reality. We can only try to trace it back up the threads -'" (p. 135)

An interesting use of the word "yet." Wanda says that she does not scare easy but allows to herself that this could do it.

Lake District trip delayed but on.


I am about to drive visiting relatives to Lake Ullswater (see image) for the day so I will not blog much. I have also started to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson so will take that along.

Meanwhile, I am trying to relocate instances of the phrase "causality vortex" in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series. It occurs several times but I am not finding it so some help would be good?

I have ordered Eon by Greg Bear but it has not arrived yet. Maybe that should be discussed on the Science Fiction blog? - but I will link to it from here.

Meanwhile also, I must finish breakfast. Have a good day, evening or whatever.


Wanda Tamberly asks Manson Everard why the Exaltationists try to change history. He replies:

"' abort the whole future. Make themselves overlords...'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 718.

But he adds:

"'Not that I think they could long have stayed in charge. Selfishness like that generally turns on itself. Battles through time, a chaos of changes - I wonder how much flux the space-time fabric could survive...How does it feel knowing you may have saved the universe?'" (pp. 718-719)

This and the concluding chapter of The Shield Of Time, "1990 A.D.," are the only indications that the Time Patrol's activities may have a cosmic significance. But why should the space-time fabric not survive flux? Larry Niven argues in "The Theory and Practice of Time Travel," that, in a scenario where time travel is possible and where the past can be changed, there will be no time travel because some time traveler will prevent it. But there is no reason why the universe should not survive all the changes made by time travelers until the change that prevents time travel. Each timeline is complete in itself and has the same mass-energy as any other.

When Everard arrests the last Exaltationist, Raor, he asks her what they would have done with the universe. She confirms his prediction of battles through time but adds that this would be a deliberate policy:

"'We would have made it what we chose, and unmade and remade it, and stormed the stars as we warred for possession, with an entire reality the funeral pyre of each who fell and entire histories the funeral games, until the last god reigned alone.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 118.

Raor envisages neither Anderson's space-time destroyed by flux nor Niven's timeline without time travel but a new history ruled by a single Exaltationist.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Resonance II

See here.

I suggested that a refusal by Carl Farness to complete a causal circle might have two consequences but now I doubt the second consequence.

We are imagining a timeline in which:

in 372 AD, Carl, in the role of Odin, appears on his timecycle, a metal-boned "...skeletal horse..." (Time Patrol, p. 454), and betrays his Gothic followers;

Manson Everard, roving the period from end to end, confirms that the Volsungasaga story of Odin betraying his followers originated specifically in this action by Carl;

in 1935, Everard tells Carl that he must travel to 372 to betray his followers.

Carl complies but the question is: what would have happened if he had refused?

1st Consequence
The Carl who had appeared and enacted the betrayal in 372 arrives in 1935, so Carl has duplicated himself. Patrol members have to avoid this kind of paradox.

2nd Consequence (which I now doubt)
Anyone traveling to a date earlier than 372 and returning futureward might arrive in a timeline in which history was different because the betrayal had not happened.

But I now think that, if someone travels pastward along a timeline in which the betrayal happened, then he should return futureward along that same timeline unless, while he is 372 or earlier, he does something (I don't know exactly what) to prevent Carl from making the betrayal. (Our hypothetical new time traveler might prevent Carl's/Odin's followers from attacking King Ermanaric so that they would not be present in Ermanaric's hall when Odin appeared in order to betray them?)

However, this is all speculative. What the Patrol definitely wants to do is, first, to prevent the paradox of Carl duplicating himself and, secondly, as far as possible, to prevent even the slightest possibility of a timeline in which the betrayal did not happen. Both these purposes are served by getting Carl to leave 1935 with the intention of appearing in 372 and betraying his followers. This completes the circle and prevents anything else from happening.

But this leads me back to the question; what does Everard mean by "...a resonance..."? (p. 449)

"Not Even Dreams"?

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on..."

"Life, what is it but a dream?"

"Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
"A bubble in a stream,
"A child's laugh, a phantasm, a dream."

Wanda Tamberly goes further:

"'If everything is random and causeless - if there is nothing out there, no firm reality, only a mathematical shadow show that for all we can tell keeps changing and changing and changing, with us not even dreams within it -'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 433.

Not even dreams? We are more than dreams. We are at least dreamers.

I think that there is a gap in our vocabulary. When someone is asleep, we say that he is unconscious and he is indeed not conscious of us or of his surroundings. However, dreams are sleeping experiences sometimes remembered when awake so we are "conscious" or "aware" of them when they happen? We experience them and I regard "to experience..." and "to be conscious of..." as synonyms.

An experience can be called "a dream" only if it is fleeting and is contrasted with something longer lasting before and after it. Thus, Shakespeare's:

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on
"And our little life is rounded with a sleep..."

- is apt because we are not conscious of anything before our births or (I believe) after our deaths yet we have evidence that the universe existed for a very long time before us and will continue to exist for a very long time after us. But to call the entire universe "a dream" would be meaningless because there would be nothing longer lasting to contrast it with.

(If I dream of meeting Hamlet, then I do not believe that the Hamlet in my dream is conscious of meeting me! - but, in the "dream" of life, the other "dreamers" are as conscious as I am.)

The Importance Of Tyre

The Exaltationists threaten to bomb Tyre during King Hiram's reign. How would this affect history?

(i) Tyrian power will outlast Hiram, already the most powerful Canaanite king.
(ii) Tyre will stand off the Assyrians.
(iii) Tyrian sea trade will reach as far as Britain.
(iv) Tyrian colonies will include Carthage (and from Carthage, Ys).
(v) The Tyrian fleet will attack Greece for the Persians.
(vi) The siege of Tyre will delay Alexander's progress.
(vii) Tyre will give the Greeks two important Phoenician ideas, the alphabet and certain deities, Aphrodite, Adonis, Herakles etc.
(viii) Tyrians will progress shipbuilding and seamanship. 
(ix) Their navigators will bring back knowledge of Europe, Africa and Asia.
(x) Greek democracy develops under Tyrian influence - the suffetes must approve Hiram's decisions and the Tryians idealize explorers and entrepreneurs, not god-kings.
(xi) Tyre was the main trading partner of, and civilizing influence on, the kingdom of David and his son, Solomon.
(xii) Tyrian skills and materials built Solomon's Temple.
(xiii) Tyrians and Hebrews conducted joint exploration and commerce.
(xiv) Tyrians lent heavily to Solomon.
(xv) He sacrificed to Phoenician gods.
(xvi) King Ahab of Israel married the Tyrian princess, Jezebel.
(xvii) Fury at Phoenician paganism inspired Hebrew prophetic monotheism.

Remove all that from history and see what is left!

Another Causal Loop

Manson Everard of the Time Patrol has Merau Varagan, the Exaltationist time criminal, at gunpoint. Varagan keeps Everard talking until his, Varagan's, older self appears above them on a timecycle, fires at Everard and rescues his younger self. One of Everard's colleagues comments:

"'...a causal loop of that sort...didn't he have any idea of the dangers?'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 281.

Everard replies:

"'Doubtless he did, including the possibility that he would make himself never have existed...'" (ibid.)

How could Varagan make himself never have existed? He and Everard are in Colombia, 1826. The Exaltationists are from the thirty-first millennium. If Varagan's self-rescue attempt fails, what might happen?

(i) Everard kills the arriving older Varagan and takes the unrescued younger Varagan into custody.
(ii) Everard kills both Varagans.
(iii) Something else?

None of this would prevent Varagan from being born up in the thirty-first millennium. And, in any case, he is unconcerned about preventing his own birth. Everard continues:

"'But then, he'd been quite prepared to wipe out an entire future, in favor of a history where he could have ridden high.'" (ibid.)

An Exaltationist's only concern is to survive into a timeline where his ego is ascendant and his will is unconfined (p. 279). It does not matter to him whether, in that timeline, he has an ancestry, birth or earlier life.


In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, we appreciate not only the details of the historical periods but also the subtleties of the temporal paradoxes. Other time travel novels, including three by Anderson, ingeniously present intricate circular causality paradoxes but the Time Patrol series is the subtlest presentation of the more difficult causality violation paradox and also a unique take on this topic.

"'An incipient causal loop is always dangerous...It can set up a resonance, and the changes of history that that produces can multiply catastrophically. The single way to make it safe is to close it. When the Worm Ouroboros is biting his own tail, he can't devour anything else.'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 449.

"An incipient causal loop..." must mean a potential causal circle that needs action by the Time Patrol to complete it but what is a resonance? Carl Farness visiting the fourth century Goths has been mistaken by them for Odin. Their literature relates that Odin appeared in a battle and betrayed his followers. In the twentieth century, Everard tells Carl that he must travel back once more to enact that betrayal.

If Carl refuses, then history cannot and will not retroactively change because of his refusal. He and Everard are conversing in a timeline where the betrayal did happen and was recorded in literature. However, the first consequence of his refusal would be that the Carl who did perform the betrayal will return to the twentieth century. To prevent that duplication of himself, the Carl who is talking to Everard must travel back to the fourth century in order to be the Carl who appeared and betrayed his followers.

The second consequence might be that anyone returning from a period earlier than the fourth century could arrive in an altered timeline where the betrayal had not happened. Is this potential double consequence what is meant by "a resonance"?

Causality Vortex

Manson Everard of the Time Patrol must intervene in the Battle of Rignano, 1137, in order to prevent Lorenzo de Conti from killing King Roger of Sicily. One of Everard's fellow Patrolmen, present with him on the battlefield, says:

"'We are the reserves, here on the ground, if things go badly.' He left unspoken that in that case the causality vortex would probably have grown irredeemably great."
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 341.

What is a causality vortex? The Patrol guards a single sequence of causally related events. It is possible, though difficult, for a time traveler to deflect that sequence. If one event is changed, others change to compensate so that the overall course of history remains the same. As long as Roger loses but survives this battle, the details of the skirmishes during the battle do not matter.

However, some events are pivotal. If a pivotal event has a different outcome, then the entire subsequent course of history may also differ. Lorenzo de Conti's world-line interacts with the world-lines of so many influential figures that a small change in one of his actions can change history. Because of a random fluctuation in space-time energy, a timeline in which de Conti was merely present, no doubt fighting well, at the Battle of Rignano becomes instead a timeline in which he attacks and kills Roger, thus upsetting the balance of the medieval church-state conflict. Only if this conflict remains indecisive, each side wearing the other out, will democracy and science emerge in later centuries. An unopposed Church or Empire will prevent both.

If Everard prevents de Conti from killing Roger, then, it is hoped, the preferred timeline will be restored. But, if he fails, and maybe even dies in battle, then the course of events will rapidly become so different that it may be impossible for the few surviving Patrol members to rectify it. Going back yet again with even fewer resources to try to save both Roger and Everard might even make things worse. If the intervention is noticed and regarded as miraculous, thus changing history even further, then the Patrol's cause will certainly be lost.

I think that "a causal vortex" means a course of events immediately following an altered pivotal event in which causes and effects so rapidly diverge from the original timeline that the changes to history multiply instead of damping out. In that case, the usual inertia of events is overthrown and it becomes impossible for time travelers to counteract the changes. They are caught in a vortex.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bactria, 209 AD

Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), pp. 17-25.

Economic assessment: the stone houses are small but many so the country is rich.

The capital city, Bactra:

smoke and noise from behind tall, turreted, seven mile perimeter walls above river docks;
settlements in land kept clear for defense;
traffic entering and leaving through great, guarded gates;
a Scythian Gate, a Sacred Way and a temple of Anaitis, that goddess identified with Aphrodite Ourania;
Iranian and Greek inhabitants;
crowded streets between vividly painted buildings;
Anderson, as ever, lengthily lists people, sounds, smells, public buildings and market stalls;
sidewalks and stepping stones as signs of Greek civilization.

And now we are given a time traveler's perspective:

"To Everard the scene was eerily half-familiar. He had witnessed its like in a score of different lands, in as many different centuries. Each was unique, but a prehistorically ancient kinship vibrated in them all." (p. 24)

I did not know that Everard was quite that widely traveled. We have missed a lot of his career. It rings true that ancient cities would have much in common but not every writer would realize that. How many cities, ancient, modern and alternative, does the Time Patrol series describe?

New York, London, Pasargadae, Bactra, Tyre, Amsterdam, Paris...

Reviewing The Time Patrol

I have just reread the posts for this month about the Time Patrol and, thank the gods, they make sense. I would welcome discussion from two groups of people: sf fans who share my fascination with time travel and any authors who might find this sort of analysis helpful before planning new works.

Time travel need not be combined with history. The Time Traveler went to 802,701 AD and beyond. Heinlein's time travelers also went futurewards. However, Poul Anderson expertly combined time travel with history.

We are surrounded by history. I live in "the historic city of Lancaster," which was a Roman base and, later, contended for the Crown. We have just visited tri-lingual Belgium ruled in the past by diverse European powers, then ruling in Africa, now the setting for a European Parliament, with large immigrant and Muslim populations.

If Poul Anderson were to visit Lancaster, Brussels etc, then entire new Time Patrol series and historical time travel novels would be generated.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Wider Picture

We have established that a single writer, Poul Anderson, deserves a blog unto himself. However, I also like to refer to the bigger picture. For brief remarks on literature from the Bible and Homer to some modern sf, see here, here and here.

Two SF Series

(i) Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization is collected in seven omnibus volumes whereas his Time Patrol series is complete as one omnibus collection and one long novel.

(ii) The Technic History is a history whereas the Time Patrol guards history.

(iii) Both series are science fiction because the Technic History is a future history and the Time Patrollers time travel.

(iv) Thus, the Technic History moves into the future whereas Time Patrollers move in three temporal directions, pastward, futureward and one other.

(v) The Time Patrol guards the entire Terrestrial history of the human race whereas the Technic History recounts the interstellar history of several races from 2055 to 7100 AD.

(vi) The central character of the Time Patrol series was born in 1925 but roves through centuries and millennia whereas Technic History characters are born in and remain in successive future centuries.

(vii) The two series present different fictitious futures but the Time Patrol also presents several authentic historical and prehistorical periods - except that, in its timeline, Sherlock Holmes was a real person.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Last Exaltationists

(i) Raor. Bactrian identity: Theonis, courtesan. Her clients include Zoilus, a well-connected minister of the treasury, who will tell her the details of King Euthydemus' plan to sally out against the Syrian invaders.

(ii) Sauvo. Bactrian identity: Xeniades, chief of Raor's household staff.

(iii) Draganizu. Bactrian identity: Nichomachus, Theonis' kinsman and a priest of Poseidon, authorized, even during the siege, to visit a small temple endowed by Theonis outside the city.

(iv) Buleni. Syrian identity: Polydorus, aide to the Syrian King Antiochus and devotee of Poseidon. When the pickets inform him that the priest from the city approaches the temple, he will go there to make an offering. Thus, he and Draganizu will exchange military intelligence, eventually to include Euthydemus' battle plan.

Buleni and his "kinsmen" from within Bactra plan to control the court of a victorious Antiochus in a changed history. Subtle but deadly.

Cover Story

Manson Everard feeds Benegal Dass, the Time Patrol researcher in Bactra, an elaborate cover story. Concealing his own Unattached status in the Patrol, Everard claims to be Specialist Jack Holbrook, born Toronto, 1975, a researcher in military history, whose present task is merely to relay information gathered by Dass in his role as Indian seeker of enlightenment, Chandrakumar.

The supposed plot is for a usurper to overthrow King Arsaces of Parthia, denounce Arsaces' peace treaty with the Seleucid ruler Antiochus, attack Antiochus' army on its return from India, killing Antiochus in the process, then establish an earlier version of the Sassanian dynasty. "Holbrook" will, according to Everard's story, join the army of the Syrian invaders, accompany them to India, relay Chandrakumar's information to another Patrol agent and try to protect Antiochus with an energy weapon. In reality, Everard will remain in Bactra and use any information about strange visitors to the city to try to track down any Exaltationists that may be there.

Elaborating his story, he suggests that "'...a small band of fanatics...'" with stolen time vehicles may want "To lay a groundwork for Mohammed and the ayatollahs to take over the world?'" -Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 55. Surely changing history that much would prevent the birth of Mohammed but maybe "fanatics" would not realize that? Or maybe they would be able to start something like Islam at about the right time out of the same social conditions.

L Sprague de Camp's Martin Padway, changing history during the later Roman Empire, predicts the birth of a heretical teacher called Mohammed. Again, Padway's changes would prevent that birth but then that is what he is trying to do, with no Time Patrol to stop him, to preserve a unified civilization - with Christianity as its belief system because that set of doctrines was already in place before he arrived.

The "Holbrook" story misleads the Exaltationists when one of them is able to interrogate Dass after his arrest.

In 209 BC

Alexander's generals, including Seleucus, divided his conquests, including the Persian Empire, between them. In 209 BC, the Seleucid Antiochus III rules "Syria," comprising Syria, Persia, Mesopotamia and parts of Turkey and the Mediterranean seaboard. Sixty years previously, Parthia (northeastern Persia) and Bactria (in northern Afghanistan) had declared themselves independent kingdoms. Antiochus has reconquered Parthia and now besieges Bactra, the city of Euthydemus, King of Bactria.

Thus the history. Manson Everard, Unattached agent of the Time Patrol, must enter Bactra just before the siege starts because he hopes that the Exaltationist time criminals have followed planted evidence that, by changing the outcome of a battle outside Bactra, they can gain control of subsequent history. Everard hopes to arrest the last of the Exaltationists.

Yet again, Poul Anderson seamlessly melds historical fiction with science fiction.

Historical Science Fiction

Pages 17-25 of Poul Anderson's The Shield of Time (New York, 1991), with the heading "209 B. C.," are a perfect blend of historical fiction and science fiction. The opening paragraph describes a highway beside the River Bactrus where travelers welcome river breezes and shady trees as the cloudless summer heat bleaches wheat, barley, orchards, vineyards, poppies and thistles. At the end of the paragraph, we recognize the name of Manse Everard who, we are told, knows that the long peace of this rich land is about to end. Time travelers know the future.

They also know many current details if they are helped by surveillance from space. That morning, an unmanned spacecraft had tracked Hipponicus' caravan entering Bactra at a time that would suit Everard. Therefore, he had joined the caravan earlier at:

"...Alexandria Eschates on the River Jaxartes, last and loneliest of those cities the Conqueror founded and named for himself..." (p. 19)

Thus, Anderson presents historical information and geography seamlessly blended with the application of future technology by an organization of time travelers who are able to operate in the second century BC completely unsuspected by the merchants with whom Everard travels as Meander the Illyrian.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Lives Of Time Patrol Members

Time Patrol members die only by accident or violence? But most are in posts where they are in no danger of violence and those who do survive for decades in the field eventually progress to roles that are more administrative/managerial/coordinating etc so that then, after that, accident becomes their only possible cause of death.

It may be statistically true that an accident must happen eventually even to those living in safe and comfortable circumstances but this could take a very long time and, if there is an average age of death, then some will live to way beyond that average.

In the period 1850-2000, three milieus, Western, Russian and Asian, each have a headquarters that exists only from 1890 until 1910, plus branch offices in other years. The Patrol also has electronic means of imprinting languages on brains. Thus, a Patrol agent living for centuries or millennia could easily serve for the entire twenty years in all three headquarters and all the branch offices.

Communicating with headquarters offices in other periods, he might well exchange message capsules with his older self who has moved on from the 1850-1910 milieus. Obviously, offices are located in decades when it is known that they should be physically safe. For example, for London (Western milieu),1890-1910 is a different proposition from 1930-1950.

In Part Six of The Shield Of Time, Everard would, other things being equal, have returned from the Pleistocene Lodge to his New York apartment at some time in the closing decades of the twentieth century. Instead, using the Lodge as a base, he must spend as much of his personal lifespan as necessary to delete an invasive timeline, then a second that follows directly on the heels of the first. When these tasks have been completed, then he returns to his New York apartment on exactly the same date as he would otherwise have done although, in this case, he is physically older and has experienced events that are not part of the current timeline. Yet the career stretching ahead of him remains unchanged in duration - although maybe that accidental or violent death has been brought nearer, statistically speaking?

Do some Unattached agents remain active until they drop and, if so, what is the highest age attained?

People From The Past II

(i) Benegal Dass, a Hindu recruited by the Time Patrol in the nineteenth century because of his thesis on Indo-Bactrian society, spends decades in different identities sometimes separated by lifespans studying from within the entire history of the city of Bactra. For example, as Rajneesh, he works in a silk dealership. Later, as Rajneesh's cousin, Chandrakumar, he is a seeker of enlightenment who has come to learn about Greek philosophy and stays in a Buddhist vihara.

(ii) Helen Tamberly, born in Cambridge, 1856, lives in London in 1885 with her husband, Stephen, from the following century, whom she met at the Academy. She studies the Ionian colonies in the seventh and sixth centuries BC and they holiday in ancient Japan. Next, they might spend several decades as a sixteenth century Spanish colonial couple because of Stephen's work in that period.

Patrol members do not age, die of old age, die of any illness or retire. They holiday in other periods and return to work a moment after they have left it. Thus, the twenty year existence of milieu headquarters must be a very small part of any Patroller's career. Quite apart from the obviously important time travel, we really are talking about a very different way of experiencing both life and work.

People From The Past

Warning: this lap top is at the end of its life and there will be a delay before getting another, especially since I will be away all next week.

Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series is two long volumes on time travel whereas his History of Technic Civilization is seven long volumes on interstellar civilization: two lengths, long and longer, and two basic sf themes.

People From The Past In The Time Patrol

(i) Babylonians at the Time Patrol Academy have to be given a battle of the gods routine.
(ii) A Roman from Caesar's time never learns that machines cannot be treated like horses.
(iii) Pummairam of Tyre discerns that his temporary employer Everard will battle wizards in a strange realm. Pum is recruited to the Patrol.
(iv) Jack Hall, a cowboy recruited in 1875, works in his own period and time travels only to holiday in the Pleistocene.

There will be more. We only ever scratch the surface of the Time Patrol. The phrase "causality vortex," used a few times but never really explained, is applied to the random space-time-energy change in medieval Europe counteracted by the Patrol in Part Six of The Shield Of Time

When Do Time Criminals Come From?

In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, the discovery of time travel in 19352 AD makes possible a new kind of crime - we might call it "time crime," although that phrase is not used -, any deliberate attempt to "change the past." Who declares that such activity is a crime and on what authority? ("How and with reference to what do the Venerable Ones so declare?" - as the Buddha asked about philosophers that he disagreed with.)

Well, the government of any society that has time travel has the right to make laws about how it should be used. However, this law is enforced not by any government agency but by the Time Patrol which is independent of governments, can act against them in the interests of history and is not answerable to any human being. On the other hand, the Patrol, which operates in secret before the discovery of time travel, can function and recruit openly after that date. It will then liaise with governments for as long as such institutions continue to exist.

We might think that time criminals, like any time travelers, must originate after 19352 and indeed the Neldorian time bandits are from the 204,000's. However, all that any time criminal needs is access to a temporal vehicle and, by their very nature, such devices are to be found before their invention. We know of four cases of such vehicles being stolen or misused at earlier dates:

Rozher Schtein from 2987 steals an Ing time shuttle, then tries to change events in post-Roman Britain;
Charles Whitcomb from 1947 retrieves the shuttle but uses it to try to change events in World War II Britain;
a Conquistador from 1533 steals a timecycle in1610 and tries to change the history of the Conquest;
the Exaltationists, said to be from a period before the development of time machines, steal several timecycles and become dangerous time criminals.

However, since the Exaltationists are said to be from the 30,000's, we have a contradiction. I suggest that time travel was discovered in 19352 but that its existence was not made public until some time during or after the 31st millennium.

People From The Future V

In the early fourth century, Carl Farness of the Time Patrol, known only as "Carl," takes Jorith of the Goths as a leman. When she has a seizure immediately after bearing a son, Carl goes to the locked room that conceals his timecycle and jumps to the Patrol base in 1930's New York where he gets the duty officer to make an emergency call for a doctor. Kwei-fei Mendoza arrives from 2319 and accompanies Carl on his timecycle back to Gothland but is unable to save Jorith because her difficult childbirth had ruptured an aneurysm of the anterior cerebral artery. I had to google the word "primiparous."

This time, we do learn more about the futurian, Mendoza, because, after the event, she interviews Carl in her hospital on the Moon:

artificial gravity;
air tinged with roses and new-mown hay;
deep violet carpet with twinkling starpoints;
subtle swirling wall colors;
a large window or screen showing lunar mountains and craters and a black sky with a full Earth.

When Carl explains that he and his wife had been young during the 1960's and '70's, "'...a period of revolution in sexual mores...,'" Mendoza replies, "'Fashions come and go.'" -Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 375.

But she does not say what the "fashion" is in her time. Anderson keeps this vague. We are surprised to be told as much as we are about a Lunar base in the twenty fourth century. This glimpse of the future is unique in the series.

Carl asks whether he and Mendoza could not travel to before Jorith's pregnancy, bring her to 2319, fix her artery, blank her memories and return her to Gothland. Mendoza states the usual reason why not:

"'The Patrol does not change what has been. It preserves it.'" (p. 376)

But there is another reason. The Carl who took Jorith to and from 2319 would be different from the younger Carl who would then attend a birth that was not followed by the mother's death so Carl would thus have duplicated himself -

- unless the younger self who attended the birth is deleted with that deleted section of the timeline and thus also from any later sections of the timeline that he would have traveled to so that he can be replaced without duplication by the older self who took Jorith to and from 2319? The Patrol theory of time travel is not fully clear on all such points.

People From The Future IV

I am now scouring Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series for Everard's interactions with Patrol members from periods later than his own. Here is a good one. The timeline has been changed. Hannibal has sacked Rome and the Carthaginians have won the Second Punic War. Patrolmen have met in the Pleistocene lodge.

"A man from the Scientific Renaissance had another point to make. Granted, the survivors' plain duty was to restore the 'original' time track. But they had a duty to knowledge as well. Here was a unique chance to study a whole new phase of mankind. Several years' anthropological work should be done before - Everard slapped him down with difficulty. There weren't so many Patrolmen left that they could take the risk."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 220-221.

With difficulty? Might the Patrol have records of other timelines that were systematically studied for years before deletion? Keith Denison, having spent four years as a prisoner in an altered timeline, says:

"'In due course I may write a book or two.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 365.

- to which Wanda Tamberly replies:

"'We need that...We'll learn things about ourselves we never would otherwise.'" (ibid.)

Everard having to argue his case in a meeting of Patrol members reminds me of the King of Ys having to argue his case in the Council of Suffetes. Meanwhile, we are not told when the Scientific Renaissance is or anything more about that troublesome Patrolman.

Friday, 18 July 2014

People From The Future III

In Poul Anderson's Guardians Of Time, Everard's first three companions are his contemporaries but the fourth is Piet Van Sarawak from twenty fourth century Venus, of Dutch-Indonesian descent. Anderson tells us nothing about this version of Venus although SM Stirling has contributed several colorful details this very year.

Julio Vasquez, "...almost pure native Andean, though born in the twenty-second century..." (Time Patrol, p. 677), looks out of place in London, 1885. However:

"...this neighborhood had doubtless grown somewhat accustomed to exotic visitors. Not only was London the center of a planet-wide Empire, York Place divided Baker Street." (ibid.)

Again, we get the sense of the future being born in the past:

a reference to Earth as a planet;
the British Empire will not last but will have historical consequences;
London will remain a financial center;
another author will tell us of irregular visitors to Baker St.

It is all happening here and now - or there and then.

People From The Future II

Epsilon Korten, director of Jerusalem Base, man of action and scholar of profundity, responsible for temporal activities between the birth of David and the fall of Judah, born in twenty ninth century New Edom on Mars, was recruited by the Time Patrol both because of his computer analyses of early Semitic texts and because of his exploits as a spaceman during the Second Asteroid War. Potentially, a very complicated future history emerges from such scattered hints in the Time Patrol texts.

In Harfleur, chief seaport of northwestern France, 1307, the resident Patrol agent is Boniface Reynaud from nine hundred years later but we are told nothing about his home period. However, Harfleur is fascinating, a "...rookery of merchant adventurers. From harbors like this, a few life-times hence, men would set sail for the New World."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 754.

The future is being made in the past.

People From The Future

In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, Manson Everard and colleagues from the twentieth century visit various historical, and sometimes prehistorical, periods. However, the rationale for the series is that time travel will be discovered and the Time Patrol founded in our future. Thus, Everard meets several futurians.

The recruitment officer, Mr Gordon, has dark beardless skin and Mongolian eyes over a Caucasian nose but we are not told when he is from. His white-skinned hairless assistant may be from the thirty second century, as I said in the previous post.

Dard Kelm, the instructor for Everard's group of recruits, is from 9573 AD but we learn nothing about that period. A fellow recruit is from 1972, eighteen years after Everard's recruitment date. A veteran of the Martian war of 3890 teaches Everard how to handle spaceships. This instructor tells Everard that, when he was shot up off Jupiter, the Patrol built him a new body and that he preferred a permanent post at their Academy in the Oligocene rather than returning home to live under the Guidance Corps. He adds that he takes vacations in many eras, including the decadent stage of the Third Matriarchy.

Thus, although the focus of the series is historical fiction, future periods are matter-of-factly referred as if they were equally real.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Thirty Second Century

Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series is complete in two volumes, an omnibus collection, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), and a long tripartite novel, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), although I have expressed disagreement with the order in which the works are presented. For example, the last story in the collection should instead be published at the end of the novel.

I have now found a possible link between the very first short story, "Time Patrol," and Part Six of the novel which is the third main part because the very short Parts One, Three and Five are a prelude and two interludes.

"...the assistant - a white-skinned, completely hairless man of indeterminate age, with a heavy accent and no facial expression..." (...Patrol, p. 4).

Does "white" mean white or pink, paper white or just very pale pink? If the former, then the assistant may be from Saturnian orbit in the thirty second century:

"...the pianist tonight was born in the thirty-second century Anno Domini, in orbit around Saturn...The hairless alabaster-white head - not albino; a healthy product of genetic technology..." (...Shield..., p. 296).

This possible link helps to establish the unity and integrity of the timeline guarded by the Patrol.

Is There A Reality Patrol?

Does the Time Patrol guard the history of only a single planet? I thought so but maybe not. We are told that Earth will always be the human planet and that the Danellians are the evolutionary successors of humanity but, on the other hand, time travel will be discovered in a galactic era, the Danellians are not necessarily confined to Earth and the chaos that the Patrol guards against is a cosmic phenomenon.

I am fairly certain that the temporal vehicles used on Earth have access only to the history of Earth - they can hardly have or need a cosmic range - but the Patrol must be active wherever humanity is, which is on a galactic scale in some eras. The role of extraterrestrials is not mentioned. Do the Danellians cooperate with the evolutionary descendants of other races?

SM Stirling's "A Slip in Time" is the first story in which we see a timecycle make an interplanetary crossing but that is only between a human colony on Venus in the twenty fourth century and Earth of the twentieth century. Although surprising, it falls well short of a cosmic range.


 Poul Anderson's understanding of what the Time Patrol has to guard against became more subtle. Originally, it was simply that well established science fiction time travel scenario: can time travelers change the past? In later formulations, the time travelers do not seem to matter:

"...reality is conditional. It is like a wave pattern on a sea. Let the waves - the probability-waves of ultimate underlying quantum chaos - change their rhythm, and abruptly that tracery of ripples and foam-swirls will be gone, transformed into another."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 671.

In this case, Anderson does go on to say that, although twentieth century physicists already had a glimmering of quantum chaos, it was time travel that made it impact on human lives. However:

"...all the life that pulsed in the city today and in past and future, everything that begot and nourished it...he knew their whole reality for a spectral flickering, diffraction rings across abstract, unstable space-time, a manifold brightness that at any instant could not only cease to be but cease ever having been.

"The cloud-capp'd towers..." (p. 480)

I have problems with the phrase "...cease ever having been..." but my point here is that in this passage time travel is not mentioned.

A Danellian confirms:

"'Think, if you wish, of diffraction, waves reinforcing here and canceling there to make rainbow rings. It is incessant, but normally on the human level it is imperceptible. When it chanced to converge powerfully on Lorenzo de Conti, yes, then that became like a kind of fate.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 434.

Diffraction is mentioned again. And, this time, although the Patrol needs time travel to fix de Conti, no time travel was involved in the convergence on de Conti.

"'In a reality forever liable to chaos, the Patrol is the stabilizing element, holding time to a single course...left untended, events would inevitably move toward the worse. A cosmos of random changes must be senseless, ultimately self-destructive. In it could be no freedom.'" (p. 435)

And this is "'...the meaning...'" (ibid.) The Patrol was founded not to catch criminals but to counteract chaos.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Wanderer

Carl Farness:

born in 1934;
recruited to the Time Patrol in 1980;
attends the Patrol Academy in the Oligocene Period;
is supervised by Unattached Agent Manson Everard, based in New York, 1980;
relocates with his wife to 1930's New York; 
visits and studies four generations of Goths, 300-372;
fetches a doctor from the Moon, 2319, to 302;
meets the Christian missionary, Ulfilas, on a journey lasting from 341 to 344; 
reports to Herbert Ganz in Berlin, 1858;
plays the role of Odin in the Volsungasaga in 372;
recuperates in the Patrol's Hawaiian Lodge in 43.

And, unfortunately, that is all that we know of Carl. This part of his career is spread across the first, fourth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty fourth centuries.

Supporting Characters

A regularity established early in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series was that each story featured Manson Everard as the viewpoint character accompanied by one other Time Patrolman but a different one each time:

Charles Whitcomb;
Keith Denison;
Jack Sandoval;
Piet Van Sarawak.

When a fifth story was added a decade and a half later, we again saw Everard with one other Patrolman but this time Tom Namura was both viewpoint character and central character.

When a second collection, Time Patrolman, was published, it differed in that:

it contained two new longer works as against four or five previously published shorter stories;
in Tyre, although Everard consults two resident agents, he works alone except for his local guide, Pummairam, whom he then recruits to the Patrol;
in the second story, Carl Farness is not only the viewpoint character but also the first person narrator and Everard becomes a supporting character albeit with "senior statesman" status. (Carl narrates when he is with his wife or colleagues in the first, nineteenth, twentieth or twenty fourth centuries but becomes a mysterious third person figure, mistaken for Odin, when interacting with Goths in his study period, 300-372.)

Like Pummairam, Wanda Tamberly is recruited to the Patrol by Everard at the end of a story but, unlike Pum, becomes a continuing character. In "The Year of the Ransom," she narrates when she is the viewpoint character but not otherwise. Thereafter, she and Everard, alternating or together, are the main series characters, although Keith Denison also reappears. The middle section of The Shield Of Time has Wanda with Ralph Corwin.

"Star of the Sea," written later but set before Everard's first meeting with Wanda, features Everard with Janne Floris. "Death and the Knight," following The Shield Of Time, features Everard rescuing Hugh Marlow.

Thus, the full list of main supporting characters becomes:

Charles Whitcomb;
Keith Denison;
Jack Sandoval;
Piet Van Sarawak;
Manson Everard;
Wanda Tamberly;
Ralph Corwin;
Janne Floris;
Hugh Marlow.

Flying Men

Poul Anderson presents two intelligent flying species, Diomedeans and Ythrians. Readers of Anderson might discern interesting parallels with Olaf Stapledon's small, bat-like Seventh Men. Earlier, I compared Stapledon's Great Brains with Anderson's Artificial Intelligences: two cases of enhanced but abstracted intellect. Ythrians and Seventh Men are two cases of experience enriched by the power and physiology of flight.

With Earth about to be rendered uninhabitable by a falling Moon, the Fifth Men partly terraform Venus, incidentally exterminating Venerians, and partly adapt humanity to the new planet. Since the Venerian land surface is a few islands in a planetary ocean, some human beings become aquatic whereas others become aerial.

The Sixth Men, not fliers but fascinated by flight and living on Venus, worship not a god-man but a god-bird that is conceived in various forms:

the divine sea-eagle, winged with power;
the giant swift, winged with mercy;
a disembodied air spirit;
a bird-god that became man to give men physical and spiritual flight.

The Seventh Men, an artificially produced species:

have feathers, a leathery membrane, hollow bones, internal surfaces functioning as supplementary lungs to maintain high oxidation, hearts that beat more powerfully in flight and a normally feverish state;
experience more vividly and live more richly when flying;
hunt birds and fish and browse an artificially produced food plant that drifts in the upper air;
perform elaborate air dances;
eventually opt to fly together and commit mass suicide when persecuted by their successors, the avian but flightless giant Eighth Men.

This summary suggests the extent to which Anderson is a successor of Stapledon.

Venus And Prosperity

Many fictional Venuses, including Burroughs', Kline's, Heinlein's and Lewis', are humanly habitable;

in Poul Anderson's "Delenda Est," Venus, presumably habitable, has been colonized;

in Anderson's "The Big Rain," a desert Venus has been colonized but has yet to be terraformed;

in his "Sister Planet," an oceanic Venus has yet to be terraformed and colonized;

in his Technic History, Venus has been colonized despite incomplete terraforming;

in SM Stirling's "A Slip in Time," we retroactively learn that the colonized Venus of "Delenda Est" had been paradisally terraformed - lawns, gardens, vines, flowers, trees, a canal, bioengineered colorful singing birds and a cat-dog-chimp hybrid companion-nurse.

Surely a civilization with the power and wealth to effect this transformation would be able to solve all socioeconomic problems? Despite this, conflicts and wars continue for many millennia - although not indefinitely.

In "Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks," we learn that the Time Patrol suppresses the Trazon matter transmuter, able to transform any material object into any other...


This was how it all started:

"MEN WANTED - 21-40, pref. single, mil. or tech. exp., good physique, for high-pay work with foreign travel. Engineering Studies Co., 305 E. 45, 9-12 & 2-6."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 1.

We probably skip past the ad whenever we reread the sacred texts of the Time Patrol. Foreign travel indeed! Does anyone out there know what all those numbers mean? Someone commented that the ad does not include any contact number or address but maybe they are hidden in there somewhere?

I have commented on short stories in Multiverse. A Time Patrol story required more commentary because of its complexities. This has led back to some reflections on the Time Patrol series itself. Another way forward from Multiverse might be to read some Greg Bear novels influenced by Poul Anderson. Who knows what will happen next?

Undated SF

Science fiction can become dated but remain worth reading, e.g., The Time Machine and The War Of The Worlds. It is good when a science fiction writer sometimes gets part of the future right. Heinlein had mobile phones, water beds and waldos. The last are named from Heinlein's novel.

Skillful sf writers can also avoid writing texts that date too quickly. Although Poul Anderson wrote his Time Patrol series from 1955 to 1995, he carefully avoided describing the near future. Gorbachev is mentioned in a novel dated 1991 but no political leader of the 1990's had been named before then. In the opening story, an instructor at the Time Patrol Academy in the Oligocene demonstrates:

"...the gadgets in a typical room. They were the sort you would have expected by, say, A.D. 2000: unobtrusive furniture readily adjusted to a perfect fit, refresher cabinets, screens which could draw on a huge library of recorded sight and sound for entertainment. Nothing too advanced, as yet."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 8.

Indeed. This group of cadets has been recruited from 1850-2000. Some of them will already be familiar with these domestic gadgets. The others can be introduced to them. Whitcomb from 1947 and Everard from 1954 will have less difficulty than their colleagues from the 1850's. One girl with "...iridescent, close-fitting lipstick...fantastically waved yellow hair..." (p. 6) sounds familiar from later in the century. Is she "...the girl from 1972...a rising young physicist in her own period..." (p. 9) who speaks up later?

In Anderson's "Delenda Est" (1955), Piet Van Sarawak is from Venus whereas, in SM Stirling's "A Slip in Time" (2014), he is from a terraformed Venus, not contradicting but completing Anderson. In a timeline without the terraforming, the acidic Venerian environment would boil lead.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Three Millennia

Manson Everard, an Unattached Agent of the Time Patrol based in the second half of the twentieth century, has:

"'...become one of the more important agents operating within the past three millennia.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 191), p. 263.

Anderson wrote historical science fiction about Everard's missions to many periods, e.g., historical fiction and science fiction were perfectly blended when a twentieth century man played the known historical role of Cyrus the Great.

There could be an entire second Time Patrol series about an Unattached Agent based in the eightieth century and operating mainly in the period 5001-8000 although also visiting other eras. The author would be obliged first to write a fictitious history of those three millennia in order then to describe this agent's missions.

Anderson did write future histories. An eightieth century Time Patrol series, if written, would synthesize two kinds of science fiction, future history fiction and time travel fiction. The time travelers in Anderson's There Will Be Time visit several future periods, including that of the same author's Maurai future history. However, this is not a full synthesis of the two kinds of sf. Our Time Patrol agent would have to intervene in several periods of a history already known to us, perhaps as laid out in a fictitious historical text book modeled on HG Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come.

Another kind of work that I would like to read is a historical novel in which we recognize one of the characters as a disguised time traveler but only if we have read other volumes in the series.

Progressing The Time Patrol

(The publisher is printing a copy of Eon in response to my order. It will arrive in about a week, while I am away for a week.) 

As Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series progresses, gaps between installments decrease. For Everard:

"Star of the Sea"
"The Year of the Ransom"
"Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks"
The Shield Of Time (three consecutive stories) and
"Death and the Knight"

- occur in fairly quick succession, with little or nothing happening between them, whereas the earlier six stories are more widely spaced and there is some mention of other assignments that are not described, like one in Scandinavia.

In "Christmas in Godwanaland" (see recent posts), Robert Silverberg adds several other miscellaneous cases, in:

Kubla Khan's Peking;
San Francisco, '06;
Sarajevo, '14;
the 80th century;
the Cambrian Period.

In fact, "...hundreds of other missions..." -Bear, Dozois, Eds, Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014), p. 218.

I would prefer a story that progressed Everard's career after "Death and the Knight." The Time Patrol's organizational "milieus" for Everard's period will end in 2000 (I think) and, in any case, he himself must soon relocate after decades without aging in a New York apartment. I suspect that, like the Farnesses, he will move to somewhen like 1930's New York, thus staying in the same, Western, milieu. On that basis, the series could be prolonged for a comparable number of episodes without too disruptive a change of scene.

Stirling And Bear On Anderson

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

The King of Ys anticipates the Dark Ages, but we know what comes after that.
Dominic Flandry anticipates the Long Night, but we know what comes after that.
The Time Patrol will oversee another million years of human history, but we know that something good will come after that.

The two themes are doom and hope. As SM Stirling writes, "...hope and tragic stoicism..." (p. 91).

Greg Bear writes:

"For both Eon and The Forge of God, Poul helped me design the right orbits for astronomical objects. Karen supplied me with tips on history and various Greek usages and words." (p. 10)


"The Broken Sword strongly influenced my vision of the Sidhe in Songs of Earth and Power." (p. 11)

Hard sf, informed by history and Greek, and fantasy. Orbits and the Sidhe. Would I be wandering too far off the reservation if I acquired these three works by Greg Bear and posted about them here? While appreciating Bear's novels on their own merits, I would also be looking out for any Anderson influences, comparisons or parallels because the blog is and remains Poul Anderson Appreciation.

There will be delay. The immediate future comprises:

driving friends and family where they need to go;
a funeral on Friday afternoon;
a meditation day and evening moot on Saturday;
Bruges, Monday to Friday;
a family visit with a barbeque, a trip to the Lake District and an evening pub meal, Saturday to Saturday.

Meanwhile, I will try to get one or two of those books.