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Pirates & Dinosaurs
Jonathan Vos Post
Draft 23.0 of 11:35-12:40, 17 Oct 2011, 145 pages (including
references), adding the 2,000 word Chapter 25: “Parlay” for 148 pp. =
41,500 words of story, of 222 pp. total

Table of Contents
2.    1. Six to Thirteen Strings
5.    2. Dinny
7.    3. Bach to the Future
13.    4. Gage and Assebraker
16.    5. Port of Amalfi, 6 August 1136
19.    6. Cretaceous
23.    7. Music of the Spheres
32.    8. Gregarious Behavior
36.    9. Yo Ho My Ass
41.    10. Desert Island
47.    11. Pillar Erect
52.    12. Sneutrinos
61.    13. Brain Overclaim
66.    14. Pterodactyls in the Loo
72.    15. Feconey Cuzzin
80.    16. Trireme?
86.    17. Carronades
95.    18. Butterfly Effect
99.    19. Redvalve
108.    20. TARDIS
120.    21. Time Travel for Beginners
128    22. Is Time an Illusion?”
133.    23. The Questing Beast
138.    24: Levels of Piracy
149.    25. Parlay
157.    26. References
222.    27. Versions metadata

25. Parlay

Captain Lazzaro, carrying a white flag, flanked by Manuel Psaila,
Niccolo Pisani, Benedict Bonacci, and some of the other Crusaders,
walked up to Profesor Gage, Dr. Assebraker, Scatty Vickerman, Feconey
Cuzzin, and interested spectators from the mid-21st century team and
the 1800 pirate ship.
It took a while to find a language in which to converse, and
translators as back up. They settled on Latin.
“I am Captain Lazzaro, speaking in the name of Our lord Jesus Christ,
and the noble city of Pisa.”
“I am pleased to meet you. I am Professor Phileus Gage. I am the
leader of this team, who came from your future. What year do you
think this is?
“This is the Year of Our Lord One Thousand One Hundred Thirty-six,”
said Lazzaro. “Specifically, today is 6 August 1136.”
Feconey Cuzzin let out a laugh, then covered his mouth, and apologized.
“I am Captain Scatty Vickerman, of the good ship Loyally Pap. With all
due respect, Captain Lazzaro, today is the second day of January, the
Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred.”
Lazzaro, Psaila, Pisani, and Bonacci huddled for a moment, and spoke
is whispers.
“Impossible,” said Captain Lazzaro. “Innocent II is Pope. Pisa is
right now allied with King Richard the Lionhearted in the conflict
against King Roger II of Sicily.”
“Pope Pius VI died on 29 August 1799,” said Scatty Vickerman. “There’s
been a Papal conclave since then.”
Assebraker looked down at her NotePad. “I am Doctor Astrid Antikythera
Assebraker. That conclave led to the selection as pope of Giorgio
Barnaba Luigi Chiaramonti, who will take the name Pius VII, on 14
March 1800. This conclave, the last conclave to take place outside
Rome, was held in Venice. This period was marked by uncertainty for
the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church following the invasion of the
Papal States and abduction of Pius VI under the French Directory.”
The Crusaders again conferred amongst themselves. Vickerman and his
First mate also whipered head to head.
“If, for the sake of argument,” said Captain Lazzaro, “you are correct
about today’s date, then how can you speak of what is yet to come, two
and a half months in the future?”
“Because,” said Gage, “as I aid, my team comes from further in the future.”
“If I believe that,” said Lazzaro, “for the sake of argument, then how
far in the future?”
“We come from about 250 years from now,” said Gage. “Let me explain.”
“First,” interrupted Assebraker, “I have a question. Where did you
come from, if I accept for the sake of argument that you came from
“Port of Amalfi,” said Lazzaro.
“Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno,” said Feconey
Cuzzin, “in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno.”
The Crusaders agreed.
“It is about 35kilometer southeast of Naples,” Assebraker told Gage,
consulting hr NotePad. “It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the
foot of Monte Cerreto (1,315 meters = 4,314 feet), surrounded by
dramatic cliffs, and coastal scenery. The town of Amalfi was the
capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, an
important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around
Everyone in the know agreed with these facts, though some expressed
puzzlement at their precision.
“Are you near Amalfi now?” asked Assebraker.
Lazzaro allowed Bonacci to speak. “Amalfi is first mentioned in the
6th century, and soon acquired importance as a maritime power, trading
grain of its neighbors, salt from Sardinia, and slaves from the
interior, and even timber, for the gold dinars minted in Egypt and
Syria, in order to buy the Byzantine silks that it resold in the West.
Grain-bearing Amalfi traders enjoyed privileged positions in the
Islamic ports, Fernand Braudel notes. The Amalfi tables (Tavole
Amalfitane) provide a maritime code that was widely used by the
Christian port cities. Merchants of Amalfi were using gold coins to
purchase land in the 9th century, while most of Italy worked in a
barter economy. In the 8th and 9th century, when Mediterranean trade
revived it shared with Gaeta the Italian trade with the East, while
Venice was in its infancy, and in 848 its fleet went to the assistance
of Pope Leo IV against the Saracens. Speaking of which, did Captain
Lazzaro mention that we are on Crusade against the heaten to free the
Holy Land?”
This led to more conversation, questions, counterquestions,
clarifications, and counter-clarifications.
“In summary the,” said gage, “The consensus is that, an independent
republic from the 7th century until 1075, Amalfi extracted itself from
Byzantine vassalage and first elected a duke in 958. It rivalled Pisa
and Genoa in its domestic prosperity and maritime importance, before
the rise of Venice. In spite of some devastating setbacks it had a
population of some 70,000, reaching a peak about the turn of the
millennium, during the reign of Duke Manso (966–1004). Under his line
of dukes, Amalfi remained independent, except for a brief period of
Salernitan dependency under Guaimar IV.”
“Then stuff happened,” said Assebraker. “In 1073 it fell to the Norman
countship of Apulia, but was granted many rights. A prey to the
Normans who encamped in the south of Italy, it became one of their
principal posts. However, in 1131, it was reduced by the
aforementioned King Roger II of Sicily, who had been refused the keys
to its citadel. The Holy Roman Emperor Lothair, fighting in favor of
Pope Innocent II, against Roger, who sided with the Antipope
Anacletus, took him prisoner in 1133, assisted by forty-six Pisan
ships. The city was sacked by the Pisans, commercial rivals of the
Amalfitani; Lothair claimed as part of the booty a copy of the
Pandects of Justinian which was found there.”
“Fine,” said Gage. “That takes care of that. But, sir, does this
island look like any that you know of in the vicinity of Amalfi?”
“No,” said Lazzaro. “Something strange did happen, which might have
some cause of this mystery. There was a strange sound from overhead,
and a flattened spherical glow in the sky above us, which descended to
our ship.”
“Ellipsoid!” shouted my son, who goes by the nickname Fibonacci, said
Benedict Bonacci. He was in the ship right to our starboard. I took
it to be some strange curse.”
“More like Mathematics,” said Assebraker. Then she spoke to Gage.
“Sure sounds like a snargoid field, but how? We went notime near
1136. Maybe a selectron echo?”
“I have two questions, if I may,” said Captain Lazzaro. “Since we all
seem to be Christians, and both ships at this island have similar
flags, presuming that we are somehow on the same side against the
Mohammedans, whatever year this may be, wherever we are, what is that
thing up on the hills,” and he pointed at Dinny.
“Or demon!” said Manuel Psaila.
“Or dragon,” said Niccolo Pisani
“Or the Questing Beast,” said Benedict Bonacci.
“”D, none of the above,” said Assebraker. “It is called a dinosaur.
We brought it from very very long ago, to this island. We are on the
One of the Crusaders agreed, telling Lazzaro that their location was
nowhere near Amalfi, according to their mariner’s compass.
“In medieval culture,” said Assebraker, “Amalfi was famous for its
flourishing schools of law and mathematics. Flavio Gioia, who is
traditionally considered the first to introduce the mariner’s compass
to Europe, is said to have been a native of Amalfi.”
“Ironic,” said Lazzaro. “How did you go back in time to get this
dinosaur, or to the year 1800?”
“In our age,” said Gage, “it has become, if not respectable, then
certainly fashionable in some quarters of the physics world, to
discuss travel through Time. Much of the blame can be laid at the door
of the astronomer Carl Sagan, who was writing a science fiction novel
in the summer of 1985, and asked the relativist Kip Thorne, of The
California Institute of Technology, to come up with some plausible
sounding scientific mumbo-jumbo to ‘explain’ the literary device of a
wormhole through space which could enable his characters to travel
between the stars. Encouraged to look at the equations of the General
Theory of Relativity in a new light, Thorne and his colleagues first
found that there is nothing in those equations to prevent the
existence of such wormholes, and then realised that any tunnel through
space is also, potentially, a tunnel through time. The laws of physics
do not forbid time travel.”
“The Crusaders interrupted. “I’ll get back to all that,” said Gage.
“This realization had two consequences. When Sagan’s novel, Contact,
appeared in 1986 it contained a passage that read like pure Science
Fiction hokum, but which was (although few readers realized it at the
time) a serious science factual description of a spacetime wormhole.
And as Thorne and his colleagues began to publish scientific papers
about time machines and time travel, the spreading ripples have
stimulated a cottage industry of similar studies.”
“Curiously,” said Assebraker, “this anecdote does not feature in Paul
Nahin’s otherwise remarkably comprehensive account of the fact and
fiction of time travel. Nahin was a professor of electrical
engineering at the University of New Hampshire, and the author of
several published science fiction stories, some dealing with the
puzzles and paradoxes of time travel. He tells us how he discovered,
and ‘devoured’ science fiction stories at the age of ten, and this
book is clearly a labor of love. The approach is scholarly, with 36
pages of footnotes, nine technical (but not overly mathematical)
appendices, and a no-holds-barred bibliography. Nahin’s style is
distinctly more sober than the material he deals with, but what he
lacks in sparkle he certainly makes up for in comprehensiveness.”
“Nahin’s approach,” said Gage, “in line with the author’s background,
is from the fiction and towards the fact. Old favorites, such as H. G.
Wells and Frank Tipler, make their expected appearances, as do less
familiar time travel fictions from the nineteenth century (comfortably
predating Albert Einstein’s theories) and more obscure scientists and
philosophers. And, of course, the familiar time travel paradoxes get a
thorough airing.”
“There are, though, two major weaknesses in Nahin’s treatment of the
science. The lesser is his discussion of black holes, which is weak
and sometimes a little confused. Much more importantly, though, he
fails to appreciate how the ‘many worlds’ interpretation of Quantum
Mechanics allows a time traveler to go back in time and alter the past
without producing problems such as the notorious grandfather paradox.
In the conventional version of the paradox, a traveler goes back and
murders his grandfather as a young boy, so the traveler could never
have been born, so grandfather never died -- and so on. But in the
many worlds version (championed by David Deutsch, of the University of
Oxford), the act of killing grandad creates a new reality, so that
when the traveler then goes forward in time he is no longer in his own
world, but in the universe ‘next door.’ This explained, for example,
some of the more subtle touches in the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy of
movies, which Nahin comments on while missing their point entirely.
But although the book is flawed, it was still welcome. It does not
lend itself to being read from front to back like a novel, but is
ideal to dip in to and hop around in, like a time traveler dipping in
to history. It is also a first class reference book for anyone
interested in the Science Fiction side of time travel, and one that
was welcomed by the fans. But we come from a time where this is fact,
not fiction.
“We can discuss this all,” said Gage. “Won’t you join us for dinner?”
The Crusaders from 1136, the pirates from 1800, and the Time Travelers
from the middle of the 21st century were soon scarfing down fish,
coconut, radiation-preserved salad vegetables, and wine.

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