Tuesday, 30 June 2015
The engineer must regard these plans as fantasies. Thus, engineering as fantasy! But it is not fantasy because the plans will be realized on the alternative Earth. And yet it is fantasy because we are reading about it in a science fiction novel. And, within the novel, this game has a debilitating effect. The engineer's daughter tells an investigator:
"'My father was used to doing real work, and seeing what came of it. I'm convinced that the...the futility of it all drove him to early retirement, and to dying before his time.'"
-SM Stirling, Conquistador (New York, 2003), pp. 47-48.
When Tom Christiansen invites Adrienne Rolfe out to dinner, she replies:
"'How about something Oriental?...I always...that is, I really like that.'" (p. 61)
She was about to say that she always has Oriental when she is on FirstSide, because they do not have it on her Earth. Tom notices oddities in her speech and that her family sound very out of date but none of this can possibly arouse suspicions of the truth. However, a smuggled condor genetically unrelated to any known condor is another matter. Tom thinks of and dismisses time travel.
How many alternative Earths are there? A physicist let in on the secret says that they must be infinite. Could Stirling write a novel linking all of his alternative timelines?
The physicist theorizes that the Big Bang was a quantum fluctuation and that there is "'...a standing waveform drawing on zero energy...'" (p. 96), which sounds a bit like the cosmological terminology in Poul Anderson's Starfarers.