Monday, 25 November 2013

Space Time Wars

Although a war fought throughout space and time sounds like a straightforward idea, it is anything but. Doctor Who would have us believe that the Doctor is the last surviving Time Lord with no access to fellow Time Lords since they all died in a Time War. However, if they all died at a particular time, then surely he is able to travel to before they died? And, before dying, some of them would surely have traveled into their future? Therefore, some may exist now or, failing that, will in a while? And, if, as its name suggests, the Time War is fought at various times, then some of it is happening now or will in the future? Thus, even if all the Time Lords are to die in that war, they need not be all dead yet and, even if they were, a time traveler could still have access to them?

I am reading John Brunner's Threshold Of Eternity and expect some surprises before the end. The blurb informs us that:

"...there was a war going on throughout space and time. A war fought by men of different epochs, on planets of different cultures..." (Threshold Of Eternity, New York, 1959, p. 1)

So far in the text, however, the war, in our future, is only against an alien enemy in space. The time element consists of the fact that a battling spaceship can suffer a "...temporal surge..." that scatters its crew throughout history although they have a mechanism by which they can instantly return to their present (pp. 10-11). I expect that there is going to be more to it than that but I wonder if the " of different epochs, on planets of different cultures..." exist only in the blurb? (I will soon find out.)

As always, Poul Anderson comes to the rescue. His time travelers move through real history, not through abstract "space and time." In his The Corridors Of Time, rival human powers on a future Earth dispatch agents throughout history and prehistory. Unable to change events, they nevertheless recruit supporters and try to influence long term historical tendencies in order to determine an outcome in their future from which both sides are barred by their successors who, we learn, have transcended the conflict.

That really is a war fought throughout space and time.

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