Friday, 30 September 2016

"Very Messed Up"

"In the case of a missing man, you were not required to search for him just because a record somewhere said you had done so. But how else would you stand a chance of finding him? You might possibly go back and thereby change events so that you did find him after all - in which case the report you filed would "always" have recorded your success and you alone would know the 'former' truth.
"It could get very messed up." (Time Patrol, pp. 61-62)

I'll say...

(i) A Patrolman should not consult the record before embarking on a mission.

(ii) Everard tells Carl Farness that it was he, Carl, who had appeared at a crucial battle and played the role of Wodan betraying his followers. Now Carl is required to travel back to enact the betrayal. If he does not do this, then the version of Carl who did enact the betrayal will arrive home and Carl will have unintentionally duplicated himself. This is not stated in the text but I think that it logically follows.

(iii) Records said that Keith did not return but, thanks to Everard, Keith does return. Did Records lie or did Everard change events? If the latter, then what would be the consequences? My thought processes are getting messed up.

12 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Point "(i)" makes sense to me! Don't consult the records before an agent has completed a mission.

    My thought, as I remember from reading "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" was that Carl HAD to betray his descendants because if he had not, a very different version of the Eddaic Scandinavian religion would have appeared. And THAT would have changed history, and even affect whether or not the Danellians would appear. So Everard was sent to warn Carl of what he HAD to do.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sean,
      I know that is what is said in the story. However, when Everard speaks to Carl, they are in a timeline where Carl DID appear and betray his followers and Eddaic religion did develop as we know it.
      Paul.

      Delete
    2. Kaor, Paul!

      It is difficult trying to talk sensibly about time traveling! We really do need a language like the Temporal used by the Patrol.

      Hmmm, but Everard could only speak to Carl at a time when he personally had not yet betrayed those followers. Despite him and Everard being in a timeline when he HAD already committed the betrayal.
      With that betrayal the idea was introduced that Odin was ambiguous, tricksy, even treacherous.

      Sean

      Delete
    3. Sean,
      Carl personally had not yet betrayed those followers but the betrayal had happened. If Carl refused to travel back to betray his followers, then he would be making a change in events. However, such a change affects only subsequent events, not earlier events. Therefore, this new change made by Carl would not prevent his having arrived in the past and betrayed his followers. Its consequence would be that the Carl who had refused to go back would be in his apartment when the Carl who had made the betrayal returned home. Thus, Carl would have duplicated himself.
      Paul.

      Delete
    4. Kaor, Paul!

      Ugh, I had to read this more than once before I could be sure I understood you. The problem is not you but the INHERENT difficulties and complexities of time traveling.

      Sean

      Delete
    5. Sean,
      Dard Kelm introduces this principal in initial training at the Academy. Elizabeth asks: if you prevented your parents from meeting, would you cease to exist? Answer: preventing your parents from meeting affects only the events subsequent to their (prevented) meeting. Thus, you would not be born, you would not grow up, you would not get onto a timecycle and depart into the past but you WOULD arrive in the past BEFORE you prevented their meeting.
      Paul.

      Delete
    6. Sean,
      Thus, by refusing to travel back to betray his followers, Carl would not prevent himself from having arrived in the past and betrayed his followers and the Carl who had betrayed his followers would return home.
      Paul.

      Delete
    7. Kaor, Paul!

      Yes, these two notes of yours does help to clarify the matter.

      Sean

      Delete
  2. Time travel plots, especially ones with recurrent time travel, are nightmares. They make your head hurt while you're writing and you can tie yourself into inescapable knots very easily.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Time travel plots, especially ones with recurrent time travel, are nightmares. They make your head hurt while you're writing and you can tie yourself into inescapable knots very easily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr Stirling,
      The readers sympathize! My Logic of Time Travel blog and many posts on Poul Anderson Appreciation are attempts to help by discussing and clarifying the issues as much as possible. My only credentials are that I have studied philosophy, including logic, and read a lot of sf - but I am uneducated about the maths and physics.
      Paul.

      Delete
    2. Kaor, Paul and Mr. Stirling!

      I certainly do sympathize with how writers and commentator try to make sense of time traveling! Which makes me all the more APPRECIATIVE of how well Poul Anderson and S.M. Stirling handled it.

      Sean

      Delete