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Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol Series

 Dr. Paul Shackley

I suggest that Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol series is the single best work of time travel fiction. There are two qualifications to this statement. First, tastes differ. Some other works may arguably be at least as good though in different ways. One reply here would be that the Time Patrol is good in many ways, not just one. It develops, has characterization, historical veracity, vivid realization of many historical periods, informed discussion of historical processes, different kinds of stories and subtle treatment of causality paradoxes. Secondly, comparison is not always possible. The Time Machine is a single, original work. Can it be compared with a later, increasingly elaborate, series? And why compare them? Certainly, both works should be included in any list of the few best.

Time Patrol’s many good features deserve lengthy discussion. However, I hope that I have done this:

an article on fictitious treatments of time travel came to be called “Time Travel and Poul Anderson”;
an article on four series by Anderson (here) came to have a longer section on the Time Patrol;
an article on “Sacrifice and Resurrection in Faith and Fiction” discusses life, death and time travel in Anderson’s series.

There is scope for more than this but that is it for the time being.

(Added on 10/8/2011: Since writing the above, I have completed a Time Patrol Timeline (here), comments on the Timeline (here) and a discussion of the Nine (here)).


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