Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

I am not an expert on how to role a conquered country, so I will refrain from criticising President Patton's policies concerning our Far Eastern Possessions. My dear friend and husband, Dr Jubal Harshaw, tells me (and the histories at Boondock confirm) that on his time line (code Neil Armstrong) the policies were utterly different - supportive rather than harsh to the conquered foe.

But both policies (both time lines) were disastrous for the United States.

In the years from 1952 to 1982 I never had any real occasion to use my study of Japanese language and writing. But twenty-four centuries later my knowledge of Japanese caused Jubal to ask me to accept an odd assignment, after I had shifted from rejuvenation apprentice to the Time Corps. The outcome of the long and bitter war between the United States and the Japanese Empire had been disastrous for both sides on all time lines supervised by the Circle of Ouroboros, both those in which the United States ‘won' and those in which the Japanese Empire ‘won' - such as time Tine seven (code Fairacres) in which the Emperor and the Reichsführer split the continent down the middle along the Mississippi River.

The Time Corps mathematicians, headed by Libby Long, and their bank of computer simulators, supervised by Mycroft Holmes (the computer who led the Lunar Revolution on time line three) attempted to determine whether or not a revised history could be created in which the Japanese-American war of 1941-45 never took place. If so, would that avoid the steady deterioration of planet Earth that had occurred after that war on all explored time lines?

To this end the Corps needed agents before 1941 in Japan and in the United States. Agents for the United States were no problem, as there were lavish records in Boondock of American language, history, and culture in the twentieth century Gregorian as well as residents of Tertius who had actually experienced that culture at or near the target dates: Lazarus Long, Maureen Johnson, Jubal Harshaw, Richard Campbell, Hazel Stone, Zeb Carter, Hilda Mae Burroughs, Deety Carter, Jake Burroughs, and others - most especially Anne, a Fair Witness. I know that she was sent. And probably others.

But residents of Tellus Tertius familiar with Japanese language and culture of the twentieth century Gregorian were between zero and non-existent. There were two residents of Chinese ancestry, Dong Xia and Marcy Choy-Mu, who were physically similar to Japanese norms but neither knew any Japanese or anything of Japanese culture.

I could not possibly pass for Japanese - red-haired Japanese are as common as for on fish - but I could speak and write Japanese, not like a native but like a foreigner who has studied it. So a reasonable decision was made: I would go as a tourist - an exceptional tourist, one who had taken the trouble to learn something of the Language, culture, and history of Nippon before going there.

A tourist who bothers to study these aspects of a country before visiting it will always be welcome, if he is polite by their rules of politeness, It is easy to say, glibly, that every tourist ought to do this, but in fact this is difficult, expensive in time and money. I have a knack for languages and enjoy studying them. So, by the age of seventy, I knew five modern languages including my own.

That left over a thousand languages I did not know and around three billion people with whom I had no common language. The task is too big - a labour of Tantalus.

But I was well equipped to be an inoffensive tourist in Japan for the decade preceding the great war of 1941-45. So I went, and was put down in Macao, a place where bribery is the norm and money will accomplish almost anything. I was armed with lavish amounts of money and three very sincere passports; one said that I was Canadian, another that I was American, and the third that I was British.

I went by ferry to Hong Kong, a place much more nearly honest but where nevertheless money is highly respected. By then I had learned that neither British nor Americans were well thought of in the Far East at that time but that Canadians had not yet inspired any special dislike, so I started using the passport that showed that I was born in British Columbia and lived in Vancouver. A Dutch ship, the MV Ruys, took me from Hong Kong to Yokohama.

I spent a lovely year, 1937-38, tramping around Japan, sleeping in native inns, feeding the tiny deer at Nara, being breathless at the sight of Fuji-San at dawn, cruising the Inland Sea in a dinky little steamer, relishing the beauties of one of the most beautiful countries and cultures in all histories - all the while gathering data that I recorded in an implanted, voice-operated recorder much like the one I am now using.

I was also wearing, internally, a finder such as I am wearing now, and the fact that I haven't been found indicates to me that Time Corps HQ does not know what planet I am on, as the equipment is supposed to be delicate enough to track down an agent who has missed a rendezvous no matter where he is, as long as he is on the planet of drop.

That's the bad news. Here is the good news. During that year in Japan I heard several times of another redheaded English (American Canadian) woman who was touring the Empire, studying Japanese gardens. She speaks Japanese and is said to look like me. .. although the latter means little; we round-eyes all look alike to them, except that red hair would always be noticed, and speaking Japanese is decidedly noticed.

Have I been (will I be) sent back on another visit to pre-war Japan? Am I time-looped on myself? The paradox does not bother me; Time agents are used to loops - I'm already looped for the gear 1937-38. I spent that year in Kansas City for the first time, except for two weeks in July following the birth of Priscilla and after Brian's bar exams; we celebrated both events with a trip to the Utah Canyons - Bryce, Cedar Breaks, North Rim.

If I am also looped on myself (tripled) in Japan in the year 1937-38, then the tripling will happen on my personal time line after my present now. .. which means that Pixel will carry the message and I will be rescued. There are no paradoxes in time; all apparent paradoxes can be untangled.

But it is a thin thread on which to hang my hope.

Tuesday, 5 August 1952, time line two, started as a sad day for Maureen. .. utterly alone for the first time in my life, alone with the tedious chore of cleaning out and closing up our old farmhouse and getting rid of it. But a glad day in one way. My married life had ended when Brian divorced me; my widowhood ended when Susan got married; this chore marked the start of my bachelorhood.

The difference between widowhood and bachelorhood? Please look at it historically. When I married, at the end of the nineteenth century, women were unmistakably second class citizens and everyone took it for granted. In most states a woman could not vote, or sign contracts, or own real estate, or sit on juries, or do any number of other mundane acts without the consent of some man - her father, her husband, or her eldest son. Most professions, trades, and occupations were closed to her. A woman lawyer, a woman doctor, a woman engineer aroused the same surprise as a waltzing bear.