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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

The Quincunx of Time

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The Quincunx of Time

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Author: James Blish
Publisher: Dell Publishing, 1973

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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Late in the 21st century, a device called the Dirac communicator [1] promises instantaneous communication across interstellar distances. This would allow Earth security, headed by one Robin Weinbaum, to keep the peace. Before one of the devices can even reach a far-away system, someone starts producing predictions that suggest they have advance knowledge of Dirac communications.

Eventually it is realized that the new technology incorporates a way of learning about future events. The result is a lengthy discussion of free will versus determinism.

A quincunx can mean a group of trees—and specifically a set of five trees arranged at the vertexes of a pentagon in the manner of the Academy of Plato in Ancient Greece. Robin Weinbaum compares the new technology to being able to look down on time as if it were a set of trees, and determine which one shall grow, and which one wither.


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