Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Further Digging

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), "Rough Sleepers," pp. 95-123.

"Rough sleepers" are homeless people, sleeping out of doors. Only on p. 109 did I begin to understand that one of them, Freddy, was time traveling:

"As he reached the entrance to the gardens he slowed down, knowing that if he were to get back to the place where she was waiting for him, further digging was required." (p. 109)

Digging? Rereading p. 106, I get a better understanding of what had happened earlier. Thorn hedge had grown where Georgie Bumble's office was. Freddy would have to "...get stuck in..." to this hedge in order to "...dig back to it." (p. 106) Back to what? To "...Georgie's time..." (p. 106), apparently. Freddy starts by pushing "...all the present stuff to one side..." (p. 106). This did sound odd the first time I read it. He shoves the hedge away like smoke, squashes and bends construction machinery like modelling clay and uncovers Georgie's door, then brushes smears of stale time from his coat! (He ate a magic mushroom before doing this.)

To get back to where Patsy awaits him, he "...shoulder[s] his way into all the rubbish piled up from the fifties." (p. 109) "...the fifties..." means the decade, the 1950s. Now we understand what Freddy meant by saying on p. 96 that he had just been "'...up there in the twenty fives...'" - 1925 - and why he learned that he was in 2006 by looking at a calendar. Continuing his journey to Patsy:

"He pushed through the glory days of Mary Jane and further still, back through the blackout and the sirens, folding pre-war washing lines and cockle-sellers to one side like reeds until the sudden stench and lack of visibility told Freddy that he'd reached his destination, back in the high twenties when somebody else's wife was waiting for him." (p. 109)

In case we still do not get it, we are told:

"Freddy began to walk across the patch of designated recreation area with its swings, its slide and Maypole, that extended where the central avenue of Bath Street flats had been moments before, or where it would be nearly eighty years from now, depending how you saw things." (p. 109)

OK. He really has traveled physically back in time. This is a fantasy or sf plot element - unless Freddy is just imagining it - but so far it does not as yet introduce the concept of Eternalism - unless, of course, it is argued that time travel implies Eternalism because how can someone travel from 2006 to the 1920s if the 1920s do not still exist?

Addendum: OK. I have misunderstood this. Freddy somehow merges with his younger self and relives an earlier experience. Or something.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Back In Timeline 1

What becomes of timeline 1 if a time traveler departs that timeline and enters timeline 2? Imagine two horizontal parallel straight lines, each extending from point A to point D with B and C as intermediate points:

the lower line represents timeline 1;
the higher line represents timeline 2;
C represents the moment when a time traveler departs timeline 1;
B represents the moment when he enters timeline 2.

Clearly there is no reason why timeline 1 should terminate at C. Indeed, we have already stipulated that timeline 1, like timeline 2, extends as far as D. The horizontal dimension represents a first temporal dimension whereas the vertical represents a second temporal dimension:

in the first temporal dimension, timeline 1 remains in existence until D;
in the second temporal dimension, the entire timeline 1, from A to D, ceases to exist when the entire timeline 2, from A to D, begins to exist;
inhabitants of timeline 2, familiar only with the events and history of their timeline, would say, if asked, that timeline 1 did not exist and had never existed;
anyone who did not understand that two temporal dimensions were involved might alternate between saying that timeline 1 has ceased to exist and that it had never existed.

The blurb on the back cover of SM Stirling's Dies The Fire (New York, 2005) informs us that the Change occurred after an electrical storm above Nantucket. After reading the Nantucket Trilogy, we are back in timeline 1.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Time Travel Synthesis

In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, the Danellians appear in different forms. At the beginning of his Patrol career, Manse Everard sees a blazing shape. Much later, he meets a benign humanoid being of indeterminate race, age or sex. In Doctor Who, the Time Lords periodically "regenerate." They are rejuvenated and their appearance changes, i.e., a different actor plays the part. Both groups are masters of time travel. Thus, could they be the same group? See here.

Is the Doctor's humanoid appearance a mere appearance? On TV, he once said that the TARDIS's appearance was here but that its real being was outside time. Another character commented, "Ah, you are a true philosopher!"

On its original publication in Tales Of The Knights Templar (New York, 1995), edited by Katherine Kurtz, the last Time Patrol story, "Death And The Knight," was doubly introduced by editor and author. Kurtz wrote that, if time is fluid and mutable, then we must hope that there are or will be Time Lords to perform policing tasks:

" make certain that crucial aspects of our past are not changed, so that all our yesterdays will unfold into our desired tomorrows...
"Poul Anderson writes of the Time Lords thus:..." (p. 273)

Anderson does not use the term "Time Lords" but, in this passage, he does not name the Danellians either. He writes of "...the superhumans who dwell in the ages beyond..." (p. 274)

There is much scope here for creative sequels.

The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly — and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
-copied from here.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Future Histories And Time Travel

(Most of today so far has been spent driving back to Lancaster.)

Robert Heinlein
Heinlein's Future History was complete in five volumes but unfortunately he added three or four inauthentic novels. The first of these, Time Enough For Love, concludes with a time travel section, "Da Capo," that includes an ingenious passage on how Lazarus Long sends messages home from the early twentieth century but otherwise is appalling drivel. (I go further and add that at times Heinlein's later obsession with sex became frankly offensive.)

Isaac Asimov
Asimov's The End Of Eternity is an incoherent time travel novel (see here) that concludes by initiating the timeline of his Galactic Empire future history.

Poul Anderson
Anderson did not connect the Time Patrol to the Technic History but did connect There Will Be Time to the Maurai History.

However, in the Technic History, two characters present the germ of a time travel story. See here. Let us expand it:

the Marchwardens of the Lauran System have reason to expect an attack from the future and prepare defenses;
the attack arrives and is defeated;
five centuries later, the Merseians have a time machine and consider attacking the Lauran System five centuries earlier;
however, historical records inform them that that attack arrived and was defeated;
therefore, they do not launch the attack.

By the Time Patrol rules of time travel, this could happen. The cancellation of the launch of the attack cannot prevent the earlier arrival of the attack.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Time Travel Villains

Copied from here.

First, see here.

The Master's problem is how to disrupt and rule history without being stopped by extratemporal counterintervention. To get help, he travels in his TARDIS and rescues Merau Varagan, Raor and some Neldorian thugs from the exile planet. Seeking military intelligence, the Three (The Master and the two Exaltationists), helped by the Neldorians, abduct Manson Everard from his New York apartment, the Doctor from UNIT HQ and Captain Jack from Torchwood.

The Time Traveler has redesigned his Time Machine so that it can travel in any direction of space or time as originally intended. He spies on UNIT by traveling through its space-time in order to learn about the mysterious time traveler called the Doctor. Thus, he witnesses the appearance of the Master's TARDIS, the abduction of the Doctor and the TARDIS's disappearance. Traveling back in time and forward in space, the Time Traveler enters the TARDIS. He must now rescue the captives and help them to overcome the Three. He can travel through the space and time within the TARDIS as it travels through external space-time.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Time Lords, Time Patrol And Time Machine

I am conceptualizing a composite time travel scenario that would incorporate:

HG Wells' The Time Machine;
Poul Anderson's Time Patrol;
an adaptation of Doctor Who;
a few other works.

I think that three popular sf series would benefit from some revision:

in Superman, there should be some explanation of why Kryptonians exactly resemble white North Americans (see here);

in Star Trek, Vulcans should be descendants of human colonials, not aliens;

in Doctor Who, the Time Lords should be future humanity, not aliens.

There are two versions of Doctor Who: one TV series and two feature films. In the latter:

the Doctor, played by Peter Cushing, not by any of his TV actors, is not an alien Time Lord but an English inventor, like Wells' Time Traveler;
his surname really is "Who."

In my third version, the Doctor would be an absconding Time Lord as on TV but the Time Lords would be future Terrestrials identical with Anderson's Danellians. I thought of this merely because either Katherine Kurtz or Poul Anderson used the phrase "Time Lords" when discussing the Danellians in an Introduction to Anderson's Time Patrol story, "Death And The Knight," in Tales Of The Knights Templar.

I would like to consult my copy of this anthology but it is back home in Lancaster while I will be in Norfolk until Saturday. If I had a time machine, would I be able to travel forward to Saturday when I will be back home? Not exactly. If the time machine were only able to move through time and not also through space, then I would arrive in Norfolk, not in Lancaster, on Saturday whereas, if the machine were able to move through space, then I would be able to arrive home now and would have no reason to delay my arrival until Saturday.

In my proposed composite scenario, there are four kinds of time machines:

a Time Lord/Danellian time machine or TARDIS encloses its passengers, is disguised as some appropriate historical structure like a British police telephone box, is bigger inside than outside thanks to extra dimensions and travels through the Time Vortex instead of directly from one set of spatiotemporal coordinates to another;

Time Patrolmen use timecycles as described in Anderson's series;

civilian time travelers use shuttles that are boxes enclosing their passengers, in this respect similar to TARDIS's;

a single nineteenth century inventor constructs the Time Machine which resembles a timecycle in that the traveler sits on it although it takes time to traverse time instead of disappearing and reappearing without any subjective time lapse.

The Doctor steals a TARDIS and embarks on adventures through space and time. The Time Lords realize that he resolves several crises and therefore do not prevent his excursions. However, he must be prevented from changing events and thus coming into conflict with the Time Lords' human agents in the Time Patrol.

The invention of the Time Machine is an extremely improbable event that does not really fit into the Time Lord/Danellian timeline. Because it is so improbable, when the Time Traveler sets off into the future, he passes through a quantum fluctuation and arrives in the 802,701 AD of a timeline where mankind does not evolve into Danellians but devolves into Morlocks and Eloi as a long-term consequence of Victorian social divisions. However, his return journey reverses the quantum fluctuation so that he returns to the main timeline just when Manse Everard and Charlie Whitcomb are visiting the Patrol London office. Where/when did the Time Traveler go after that? Other quantum fluctuations could have taken him to 1984 or 2001. In 1984, the Party claims that the past exists only in memories and records but a Time Traveler from 1895 would disprove this.

Meanwhile, what happens elsewhere in the Solar System?

HG Wells' The War Of The Worlds has Martians invading Earth;
a film about Orson Welles' radio adaptation of The War Of The Worlds has Martians as a fiction within the fiction;
George Orwell's oppressors of humanity are entirely human;
Doctor Who has Ice Warriors on Mars;
Poul Anderson has several Martian races (see here), including one that invades Earth (see here), but does not tell us which, if any, exist in his Time Patrol universe.

(Wells, Orson Welles and Orwell!)

Addendum: For an earlier proposed sequel to The Time Machine, see here.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Circularity In The Corridors Of Time

Copied from here.

We appreciate the ingenuity of circular causality paradoxes in time travel fiction but usually forget the details. Here, I summarise the paradoxes in a 1965 novel by Poul Anderson. I have omitted some details because they do not bear directly on the paradoxes.

Rival regimes called "Wardens" and "Rangers" from two thousand years in our future wage war through time and are the real cause behind historical conflicts like Catholics and Protestants or Cavaliers and Roundheads. They cannot change their past but hope, by manipulating social trends and subtly altering the balance of forces, to influence their future from which they are barred by their successors.

The Warden, Storm, tries to lead an attack into the Ranger homeland by driving a new time corridor through from the twentieth century. However, the Ranger, Brann, already informed about the new corridor, leads a counterattack down the corridor. Storm escapes alone and hires a twentieth century man, Lockridge, to accompany her to 1827 BC and the Danish village of Avildaro where they can await a ship to Iberia and thence to the Warden base in Crete. When an Aryan war party approaches Avildaro, Lockridge persuades Storm to stay and defend the village with futuristic weapons. He and she become prisoners of Brann who leads the war party with superior weapons and captures the village.

Brann predicts that Lockridge will change sides because it was he who had informed Brann of the new corridor and the flight to Avildaro. Lockridge escapes and brings Wardens who capture Brann and free Storm. Lockridge must then travel to the era of Wardens and Rangers and pretend to defect to the Rangers in order to tell Brann about the new corridor and Avildaro. Threatened with painful interrogation to confirm his story, he escapes and returns to Avildaro where Storm plans to build a Warden base in Stone Age Northern Europe by supervising the intermarriage of Sea People, from villages like Avildaro, with the Aryans.

Lockridge cooperates despite the unhappiness of his friends among the Sea People. Wardens Storm and Hu fly on gravity belts to investigate a large fleet approaching from England. In their absence, Lockridge finds that Brann is still alive but being painfully interrogated by the Wardens. On their return, he confronts them and is held under guard but he and a group of villagers escape when the English fleet attacks. Before leaving, Lockridge frees Brann from the interrogation machine so that he will die quickly. Lockridge leads his people to England twenty five years earlier, builds a progressive federation that he already knew of and leads the fleet that attacks Avildaro. Lockridge's wife from Avildaro, who returns with him, sees their younger selves fleeing from the village. Storm, captured, is bound and confined in the house from which she had ruled where she is strangled by the dying Brann who has just been freed by the younger Lockridge. Lockridge's confederation builds Stonehenge of which, of course, Lockridge had known in the twentieth century.


How easy is it to "escape" when held captive? Lockridge does it three times. The third time makes sense because his captors are under attack. If he had not escaped from Brann in Avildaro, then Brann would not have known to attack Avildaro. If Lockridge had not escaped from the Rangers in their own era, then their "psychic probe" would have extracted the truth from him. In that case, the Brann who had counterattacked in the time corridor and who had captured Avildaro would have known that he was to be captured and would have ordered other Rangers to recapture Avildaro as soon as Lockridge had departed for the Wardens' and Rangers' era.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Through Time With Mark Twain, HG Wells And Their Successors...

...mainly including Poul Anderson, of course.

The anonymous "Missing One's Coach" presents a visit to a historical period that might be a dream.

Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee experiences instantaneous "transposition of epochs" to Arthurian Britain and returns to the nineteenth century by Merlinian suspended animation.

In The Time Machine by HG Wells, the Time Traveler and his dinner guests discuss "time travelling" before the Time Traveler demonstrates his model Time Machine which does not move anywhere but, remaining stationary on the Earth's surface, undergoes extreme time dilation in either temporal direction while also unaccountably becoming both invisible and intangible.

In "The Dark Tower" by CS Lewis, five men discuss "time travelling" and agree that it is impossible before one of their number demonstrates his chronoscope which displays scenes not, as they initially think, from the past or future but from an alternative timeline.

In the Time Patrol series by Poul Anderson, timecycles, resembling modenized Time Machines, instantaneously change their spatiotemporal coordinates, thus neither moving nor dilating but disappearing and appearing.

In The Corridors Of Time by Poul Anderson, "time travelers" really do travel through time because they walk or drive down corridors whose lengths extend along the temporal axis.

In The Dancer From Atlantis by Anderson, a space-time vehicle does not remain stationary on the Earth's surface but moves across it "...while traveling through time." (London, 1977, p. 32)

In There Will Be Time by Anderson, some mutants can "time travel"/dilate invisibly and intangibly without needing a time machine and one of their number gives Wells the time travel idea.

In The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, mutant time travel is instantaneous but involuntary.

In Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson and two Time novels by Jack Finney, travel to the past and back to the present is a learned skill.

In "The Flight of the Horse" by Larry Niven, time travel is scientifically impossible so it takes explorers into a fantasy past where they find not extinct species but mythical beasts.

This is not and cannot be a complete list of time travel fictions but it does cover most of the possibilities and presents a conceptual sequence:

time travel is possible with machines - but there are different kinds of machines;
time travel is possible without machines - but in different circumstances;
time travel is impossible but time viewing is possible with a machine;
time travel is impossible so it is fantasy, not sf.