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Literature / Time Patrol

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Time Patrol is a series of works, mostly short stories, by Poul Anderson. They take place in a universe where the resolution to the Grandfather Paradox is that you now exist without ever have had a father, and the Time Police relentlessly works to keep time nevertheless on the same path — while ruthlessly expurgating futures, filled with living beings, that do not conform to it. Doing this often requires the sacrifice of time travelers or those they love.

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Most of the stories feature Manse Everard, a 20th-century American and Unattached agent, as the main character, or as a secondary one. Many crucial incidents feature The Greatest History Never Told, such as the Punic Wars.


Works included

  • "Time Patrol" (1955)
  • "Brave to be a King" (1959)
  • "Gibraltar Falls" (1975)
  • "The Only Game in Town" (1960)
  • "Delenda Est" (1955)
  • "Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks" (1983)
  • "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" (1983)
  • "Star of the Sea" (1991)
  • The Year of the Ransom (1988)
  • The Shield of Time (1990)
  • "Death and the Knight" (1995)


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Tropes featured

  • Creepy Crows: "Delenda Est" has them flying over the battlefield.
  • For Want of a Nail: Carefully explained as not a problem — more major changes are needed.
  • The Greatest History Never Told: Some odd eras are used. Such as ancient Persia.
  • Home Sweet Home: Many members of the Patrol have more than a touch of this.
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  • In Harm's Way: All members of the Patrol have some of this.
  • Ontological Inertia: Temporal inertia makes it hard to change the past — including changing it back.
  • The Reveal: In "Delenda Est" that time was tampered with.
  • Thicker Than Water: In "Delenda Est", why the meddlers could take out both father and son.
  • Time Machine: The members of the Patrol use vehicles ranging from one- or two-person motorcycle-like "time scooters" to larger, multi-passenger time transports.
  • Tricked Out Time: Features such wonders and abuse of the self-consistency principle that when a man sees his lover falling off a cliff, he turns his head, so that he doesn't see her hit bottom and can come back and rescue her later.

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