Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Wanda Tamberly And Nicholas Van Rijn
Wanda Tamberly reads Analog so she must have read about Nicholas van Rijn, for example in "Hiding Place," although not about the Time Patrol. That series was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Fictional characters are usually, though not always, fictions to each other.
In a "multiverse" (multiple universes) scenario, a character who is fictional in one universe may be real in another. However, Time Patrolmen inhabit not one universe in a greater multiverse but a single universe with a mutable timeline. Thus, van Rijn has access to the inter-universal Old Phoenix Inn whereas Patrol agents do not. The Sherlock Holmes who is seen in the Old Phoenix cannot be the same as the one who is real to the Time Patrol. Can there be different versions of Sherlock Holmes? Sure there are. We see them on screen all the time.
Neil Gaiman's equivalents of the Old Phoenix are "...the free houses that owe no allegiance to any one time or dominion," including the Inn of the Worlds' End and The Toad-Stone (The Wake, see below, p. 29, panel 2). One of the cleverest fiction-reality interfaces that I have read is this dialogue in panel 1, p. 62, of Gaiman's The Sandman: The Wake (New York, 1997):
Clark Kent: The one I hate is where I'm just an actor on a strange television version of my life. Have you ever had that dream?
The Batman: Doesn't everyone?
The Martian Manhunter: I don't.
However, the Manhunter has since appeared in the Smallville TV series. Alternative realities proliferate. All that an author needs is a blank sheet of paper or a computer screen as Poul Anderson continued to demonstrate until the end of a long career.