A Fold in the Tent of the Sky

Dedication

For my parents, May and Albert Hale

. . . contaminate the probability wave, and compromise the state vector. In the end, the momentum of an expanding, unfolding universe would eradicate the damage potentially done. The system is economical and efficient; it would tend to “smooth over”—if I may continue the fabric analogy—the time traveler's incursion as best it could, thus conserving energy in a complex reconfiguring of subatomic interrelationships. Incursions into the past distort the timeline so much that, in the interests of time-flow preservation (it is, of course, a conservation-of-
energy
dynamic we're dealing with here), the event must be thrown into a state of causal suspended animation, an oscillating smudge state of
being/nonbeing
(the frequency of oscillation is directly proportional to the time traveler's temporal displacement), a feedback loop of reconfiguration “until” the universe “chooses” a temporal point of healing. For it is my belief that any willful interference with the temporal fabric is tantamount to poking a hole in the universe itself.

We can only speculate as to how a universe in crisis would deal with a barrage of such incursions into the past. It is much like the greenhouse effect, but in a temporal, causal sense, affecting the “climate” of the universe as a whole and threatening the ecology of history, if you will.

Would it hold together? It is hard to say. It could very well reach a point where even the concept of tracking change becomes irrelevant; for what is being compromised is the collective memory not just of a society, or species, or even an entire planet—it goes much further than that. It strikes at the very fabric of the universe itself.

And the universe hates tears, rips, holes; she will do everything in her power to set things straight, “to iron out the creases.”

—from Samuel Richfield, Ph.D.,

Harvard University Press, 2038

Pleated History: Evidence of

Anachronism in the Photographs

of Carl Ferdinand Stelzner

(1814–1846)

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