Thursday, 3 December 2015

A Spatial Inconsistency?

(Warren St, Hudson, New York)

Poul Anderson, "Flight to Forever" IN Anderson, Past Times (New York, 1984), pp. 207-288.

We are used to finding temporal inconsistencies in time travel stories. At least, I am. Some people don't notice, then argue that it doesn't matter. Have I found a spatial inconsistency?

The house in 1973 is on a hill which is not miles high. When the time projector stops in 50,000 AD, Brontothor is "...a few miles off..." (p. 249) Later in 50,000 AD, the projector is moved - I thought into Brontothor. Yet, when it returns to 1973, it is half way up the hill, not several miles away. In 50,000 AD, it had been "...left...standing in a shed..." (p. 276), so was I mistaken to think that the shed was within the walls of Brontothor?

In some of the time travel stories collected in Past Times, Poul Anderson places limitations or restrictions on time travel. These have the welcome effect of counteracting paradoxes - but then he finds ways around the restrictions. In "Flight to Forever," a temporal vehicle can easily go forward but can only move about seventy years pastward. But a time traveler could try to change events within that seventy year period. Saunders could try to prevent the death of his friend, Sam Hull. Also, it becomes possible to access any period of the past by moving forward around the circle of time. The beings whom Saunders calls "The gods..." (p. 287) act like Danellians, intervening to prevent any human meddling in the past.

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