Friday, 18 November 2016

Moments Of Realization In 13,211 BC And 11 AE

"...I'll hop elsewhere as well as elsewhen, way away to the seashore or out on the steppe or -
"Or.
"She gasped."
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), p. 238.

This is a moment of realization. Wanda can travel into the recent past. Thus, she can subtly help her friends without breaking the Time Patrol law against changing the course of events. It is already known that the invaders will not settle but will continue to migrate south. Thus, Wanda can cause that continued migration without having to change anything. She has just realized how she will be able do this. But her scheme will not be explained to the readers until we see her doing it.

"A suspicion moved below the surface of his mind. No. Not here."
-SM Stirling, On The Oceans Of Eternity (New York, 2000), Chapter Five, p. 98.

Yes, here. Giernas is beginning to realize that a Native American village observed through binoculars is quiet and still because its inhabitants have been killed by smallpox. We gradually realize what is happening as Giernas leaves his companions at a safe distance, enters the village accompanied only by his dog, finds only dead bodies, then methodically burns everything, including his own clothes. Where has the smallpox come from?

These are two moments of realization. As it happens, each of these pov characters is a time traveler to prehistoric North America but how different the narratives are and many such narratives can potentially be generated from the same premises of time travel and alternative timelines.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Peter Giernas burned his clothes because smallpox pathogens can survive for years at room temperatures on clothes and blankets.

    I'm reminded of how William Prescott described how devastating smallpox was for the Aztecs in his HISTORY OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO. And the Spanish leader, Hernando Cortez, TRIED to prevent smallpox from spreading to the Indians. But it only needed one person or even just a blanket to infect the Indians. Result: a virgin field epidemic.

    Sean

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