Time Patrol by Poul Anderson
This book comprises nine stories of the Time Patrol.
The book is copyright 1991 by Poul Anderson although two of the stories
are credited earlier in 1988.
This I found perplexing. The prose reads significantly older than this.
It has the feeling of stories from the 'golden age'. That is to say the
1950's. Maybe the 1960's.
The stories tak us on a journey through space and time. they have the feel of
being well researched although I haven't taken the trouble to check any of the historical
facts presented here.
Imagine if you will, that time travel is possible. One aspect of time travel
which has been explored many times in the past is that of paradox. What happens
if you go back to the past and kill one of your ancestors ?
Anderson resolves this by positing that except for at certain nexus points
, the space time continuum is quite robust and will re converge on the 'correct' timestream.
So if you kill your own ancestor, that would be bad news for you, because you would never have existed.
However, if you were important for another reason, then you would have been born to other parents.
A stand in would have been found for the missing ancestor, whatever, a repair to space time will have
However, at the nexus points, a small change in history can have devastating effects.
A race from the far future, the Danellians, clearly have a vested interest in keeping
the timestram on track.
Once time travel is discovered, they initiate a program of protection for those nexus points by
inaugerating the Time Patrol.
These are the stories of Manse Everard. A 20th Century recruit to the Patrol who
becomes an unattached agent. A sort of time troubleshooter.
The stories are a good read, notwithstanding my earlier comment about the dated feel of the prose.
I fell a little let down by the failure to tackle some of the more important
paradoxes of time travel. the use of the timecycles to produce an almost
deus ex machina ending for some of the stories is also irritating.
It reminded me of a comment at a worldcon once about how Star Trek plots
were all about how to avoid using the matter transmitter to solve all of
such powerful technologies as time travel or matter transmission demand
that an author spend some time defending the choice of material and
maybe finding ways of creating stories around the deficiencies of the technology.
Anderson does not do this. What he does do though is take us on a whirlwind tour
of history, Mainly the Mediterranean/Asian cradle of civilisation.
This, while not making for compulsive reading, is hugely enjoyable in small doses.
Small doses is what the short story format provides.
Ultimately, I have no real beef about this book. It achives what it sets out to...
but no more.
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