Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Day After He Left

"Maybe returning to New York on the day after he left it had been a mistake."
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 3.

What does this opening sentence of Poul Anderson's Time Patrol novel mean? That Manse Everard has been away for a day but should have stayed away longer? No. He has spent weeks in Hiram's Tyre and could have returned to New York at any time, a split second before or after his departure or a full week after etc. Only a time traveler can exercise such complete control over when he returns from a journey.

The opening paragraph presents an evocative description of a a beautiful spring dusk with rain-cleared air, blossoms and greenery, lights and noises "...softened, turned riverlike." (ibid.) The Time Patrol series compares time to a river (e.g., Time Patrol, p. 17). Thus, the "riverlike" lights and noises are a subliminal reminder of that temporal river.

Page 4 informs us that Everard has returned from Tyre where he provided for Bronwen. Thus, we are indirectly informed that this novel is an immediate sequel to "Ivory, And Apes, And Peacocks," which is why the Time Patrol omnibus collection should end with that story and no other. When the Time Patrol installments have at last been published to be read in the order in which Everard experiences them, then it will be an even more rewarding experience for a reader to turn from Time Patrol to The Shield Of Time, continuing and completing Everard's pursuit of the Exaltationists and starting to learn of an even greater threat...

No comments: