Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Cosmic Time Patrol

For me, if not for anyone else, reading about time travel, e.g., in SM Stirling's Nantucket Trilogy, leads to thinking about, therefore also rereading parts of, Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series. Thus, I am currently juggling Stirling's On The Oceans Of Eternity and the Time Patrol.

All the action of the Time Patrol series is confined to various periods of the Terrestrial past except for one passage set on the Moon in 2319. However, we are given many hints of other future periods. See here. Further, at the very end of The Shield Of Time, a Danellian reveals to Manse Everard and Wanda Tamberly that the Patrol's role is cosmic, not just Terrestrial:

"'In a reality forever liable to chaos, the Patrol is the stabilizing element...'" (see here)

Is it an exaggeration to suggest that the word "...reality..." implies a cosmic role? No, because, further down the same page, the Danellian asks:

"'Has the universe therefore brought forth sentience, in order to protect and give purpose to its own existence? That is not an answerable question.
"'But take heart. Reality is. You are among those who guard it...

Reality exists because it is guarded by entities who exist only as one small part of reality. But the Danellian's question is answerable. Reality cannot generate consciousness in order to fulfill any purpose because, before it can have a purpose, reality must first be conscious.

It is said that, if certain cosmological quantities had had even a slightly different value, then life would have been impossible in this universe. We must ask: would it have been possible for these quantities to have a different value? If yes and if it were possible for a random fluctuation in space-time energy to change these values, then the Patrol or the Danellians would have to intervene in the early universe to preserve the quantities, by what means I do not know.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I don't know, maybe the Danellian was right to say the question is unanswerable. One reason for thinking like that being that we only see the Time Patrol and time traveling with HUMANS. Wouldn't some non human races also have discovered time traveling? If other races have time travel, why haven't seen or heard from them? What is their role, if any, in protecting the existence of the universe? And many other questions can be thought of!


    1. Sean,
      Sure. I am not sure how those other questions affect the Danellian's question, though.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      These were some of the things I thought about due to your comments here. Also, I think even Poul Anderson would have found it very difficult to integrate non human travelers into his Time Patrol stories.