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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.


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)


Tropes featured

  • Born in the Wrong Century: Everard derides such people in his own century while back in Dark Age Europe.
  • Briar Patching: Manse warns his Mongol captors that the modern distilled liquors he's carrying are too strong for them. They disagree and find out the hard way that he wasn't kidding.
  • 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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