Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Points Of View In Time Travel Fiction II

In "The Sorrow Of Odin The Goth," the opening section, headed 372, begins:

"Wind gusted out of twilight as the door opened." (Time Patrol, p. 333)

This is as seen by everyone in the hall. There is no individual point of view. Carved images of gods seem to move in the shadows. The chief's mother claims that the family is descended from Wodan. So far, the narrative is historical fiction unless the divine descent is literally true in which case it is historical fantasy. The Wanderer himself enters the hall and reminds young Alawin that he is his great-grandfather. This seems to bear out the claim of divine descent.

The second section, headed 1935, begins:

"I didn't change clothes until my vehicle had brought me across space-time." (p. 341)

Here we have not only a point of view but even a first person narrator. The Wanderer has left the hall, mounted a timecycle and traveled to a Patrol base. He is not divine and the narrative is science fiction - as we already know because we are reading it in a Time Patrol collection. Nevertheless, Poul Anderson has immersed us in the fourth century before he has revealed how a Time Patrolman impacts on this particular narrative. This is time travel fiction that really does transport both its central character and the reader to an earlier period. And, as yet, Manse Everard and the guardian branch of the Patrol are nowhere to be seen.

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