Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Our Fantastic Past

Fantastic events occurred long ago but were not recorded or are not understood. Marco Polo did not record his meetings with the Doctor (Doctor Who) because they would not be believed. A clever TV adaptation of The First Men In The Moon squared Cavor and Bedford with Armstrong and Aldrin.

In Poul Anderson's Works
Many events in the Time Patrol timeline are down to the presence of time travelers.

In another time travel scenario, an anachronistic galleon sailed near Atlantis but was destroyed.

In Poul and Karen Anderson's The King Of Ys
Julius Caesar did not record his visit to Ys.

Niall of the Nine Hostages felt obliged to destroy Ys in revenge for his son and fleet but was not proud of the underhand means that he had had to use so he forbade people to talk about it and poets to celebrate it. The flooding of Ys will become at most a folk tale without Niall's name attached to it. So it is.

We want fiction often to be fantastic and usually also to be consistent with the known facts.


David Birr said...

There was a book series called *TimeWars* from 1984 through '91, by Simon Hawke. The idea in the first story is that troops are infiltrated into various historical battles; their actions in these serve as proxy wars so nations of the future don't have to go to war in their present (26th Century, if memory serves) to settle disputes. Meanwhile, referees keep the time troops on both sides from doing well enough in battle to change history. "No, you CAN'T help Napoleon win at Waterloo!"

This went away or at least receded into the background after the first book, and the series became more or less a not-as-well-written counterpart to PA's *Time Patrol*. EXCEPT.

In the *TimeWars* universe, certain works of historical fiction were at least partly more true than in our timeline. In that world, there REALLY was a Wilfred of Ivanhoe (*The Ivanhoe Gambit*), a Rudolf Rassendyll (*The Zenda Vendetta*), a Gunga Din (*The Khyber Connection*). Jules Verne got the idea for *20,000 Leagues Under the Sea* after being kidnapped along with some time agents onto a Soviet nuclear submarine the villain had pirated and brought back to the 1860s or '70s. And so forth....

Paul Shackley said...

I have always been puzzled about TimeWars. Did Poul Anderson have some connection with it? Was there also an anthology called TimeWars that included "Delenda Est"?

Sean M. Brooks said...


Good science fiction and fantasy pleases me far more than most "mainstream" literature, which is often dreary and boring. I recommend to interested readers Mr. Wright's essay discussing precisely that in his blog.


Sean M. Brooks said...

David and Paul:

There's also TIME WARS (1986), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh. The collection includes both an Introduction by Poul Anderson and his short story "Delenda Est."