Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Gorbachev In Other Timelines

When Manson Everard has completed his Time Patrol training at the Academy in the Oligocene and has returned to 1954:

"It was a peculiar feeling to read the headlines and know, more or less, what was coming next. It took the edge off, but added a sadness, for this was a tragic era."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 17.

And in 1987, Everard is told of:

"'...an early example of the glasnost that M. Gorbachev is proclaiming.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 75.

Everard's period of the Patrol is 1850-2000 so he would have known of Gorbachev back in 1954 although Poul Anderson did not as yet. (That story was originally published in 1955.) Gorbachev in the Time Patrol timeline does not do anything that he did not do in our timeline.

"The first attempts by the United States to form a CoDominium alliance were defeated by the failure of an attempted Communist Party coup and the consequent deposition of Gorbachev...When a new series of military and political coups resurrected the USSR, the United States was quick to join its former enemy in an alliance..."
-Jerry Pournelle and SM Stirling, The Prince (New York, 2002), pp. 865-866.

Thus, writing a new installment of a future history in which the US and the USSR form a CoDominium, the authors cleverly incorporate more recent events involving Gorbachev while saving the CoDominium timeline. Again, this Gorbachev does not do anything in that timeline that he did not do in ours.


  1. Paul:
    The novel *Free Flight* by Douglas Terman, published in 1980, mentioned in the prologue how Gorbachev's death in suspicious circumstances (he allegedly had a heart attack, and the narration comments on how physically fit he kept himself) enabled Soviet hard-liners to launch a nuclear strike against the U.S.

    The main story was set in Soviet-occupied North America, although the prologue made clear that we hit back HARD before going under.

    The author did GOOD research, since he mentioned Gorbachev and Chernenko (his predecessor as General Secretary of the CPSU) at a time that I suspect most Westerners had little or no idea those two existed. Mr. Terman knew enough about Gorbachev, at least, to make it a plot point that he opposed a first strike.

  2. Kaor, Paul!

    It seems to me that Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling could have "saved" the original CoDominium timeline by having it being set in an alternate universe. That way, they would not have needed to work so hard to fit real world events into GO TELL THE SPARTANS and PRINCE OF SPARTA.


    1. Sean,
      All future histories become alternative timelines eventually but it is clever to save a timeline as long as possible.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Hmmmm,I should have thought of that. And I can see how some authors can enjoy the challenge of fitting real world events into their works as skillfully as possible.

      Almost half way thru Allen Steele's ARKWRIGHT. Very much a page turner. Will definitely look up some of his earlier books. Steele is definitely an Andersonian writer in some ways!