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Vaevictis Asmadi writes...

I read "All You Zombies" by Heinlein a while ago, based on your recommendation that it demonstrated working paradoxes in time travel, and although it was not recent I decided to finally type up and share what I thought from reading it. First of all, the story creeped me out!

But what I'm writing to you about is free will. Did the main character of that story have free will? On the surface at least, it appears to me that he did not for much of the story. He clearly remembered everything that had happened to him, yet he did not have to option not to seduce himself, or not to catch take past self back in the time machine, nor could he choose to change what he said and did in that bar when he was the bartender. When interacting with his past self, I think he had no choice but to say and do exactly what he remembered seeing his future self doing and hearing his future self saying.

He did have options regarding abducting the baby, mainly because he didn't remember being abducted, but one way or another he had to abduct that baby or get someone else to abduct her: he only had options in how he did it. This is comparable to Goliath time-travelling with Griff in M.I.A. Goliath could not possibly get Griff back to his clan in the 1940s, but he had plenty of options of what he could do instead. In that situation Goliath had far more options than the character in "All You Zombies" had when abducting the baby, but still this is a situation with free will.

But what options does a character really have when meeting their past self, if they DO remember the entire encounter? This is apparently what happened to Demona in Vows. She remembered Goliath's "little speech" (or maybe she was lying to him or to herself, but let's assume she was telling the truth this time) and so she must have remembered what her future self said and did. Does that mean she had no free will to change the encounter with her past self when she went back in time? For example, did she really have free will to change what words she said, or not to kick Goliath? It appears to me that this is a situation where she didn't have free will. When the Archmage(+) told his past self that the future is a place of science, not superstition, and that Demona and Macbeth were only "cannon fodder" he couldn't even have understood what he was saying, let alone invented it himself. In fact his entire bizarre mini-timedance seems to abrogate his free will, because as he said "I should (know what to do), I watched you do it."

Demona's PAST self certainly had free will in Vows, since she did not yet remember the encounter. Likewise, the Archmage clearly had free will during his first pass through his time loop. I would think that any time a character is in a stable time loop, they have free will as long as they are unaware of what "already happened." But when they do remember what happened because their past self is there at the scene, they don't have the option to change what already happened. They already KNOW what happened. If they already know what words they spoke to their past self, then those words are something they remember, not something they are thinking up freely, and they don’t have the option of saying anything different from what they remember.

Am I missing something?

Greg responds...

I tend to disagree with you about the free will thing. Heinlein's character could have chosen NOT to cooperate with his memories. Either because he liked the end result or because he felt oppressed by the inevitability of it all (or some other reason I can't think of at this moment), he CHOSE to play along.

Again, Free Will doesn't mean you get to live the life you want to lead. It means that at best you have the option of STRIVING for the life you want to lead. But some people use their free will to conform. Doesn't mean it's not a choice.

Now, that raises the obvious question: what would have happened to Heinlein's character, to Demona, to the Archmage had they chosen NOT to play along. We'll never know.

Response recorded on September 17, 2010

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Brian Bartoccini writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman it is me again; 3 days ago I saw Avalon, they are very exiting and interesting episodes but I don't understand how the Archmage survived after the battle in "Long away to morning", can you explain that to me in detail?
Well, I hope again my english it is understandable.
Goodbye Mr. Weisman

Greg responds...

This is in the archives, but BRIEFLY, he was rescued by his future self, who caught him before he hit bottom.

What else do you need to know?

Response recorded on August 18, 2010

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Anonymous writes...

Would you be willing to explain the events that led to the Archmage's falling out with Prince Malcolm?

Greg responds...

Sure. Someday. In a story.

Response recorded on December 02, 2009

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Thorgrimur writes...

I just rewatched "Avalon", and while I didn't have any trouble understanding the time loop, there were several things about the Archmage's behaviour that I began to find slightly confusing, most of them because from the Archmage's perspective, only about one day seems to have passed since he was the "one-shot villain" from "Long Way to Morning". So I'd like to ask these questions:

1. Did the Archmage ever actually find out that the Magus managed to cure Prince Malcolm's poisoning? If so, did he get that information from Demona?
2. Why does the Archmage feel his revenge won't be complete without Goliath? As far as the Archmage seemingly knows, Hudson is the leader of the gargoyles, and Hudson was the one who decided to go after him and get the Grimorum, resulting in his "death". It just seems to me that someone as arrogant as the Archmage would consider Goliath in 984 an unimportant pawn. Did Goliath do something to the Archmage prior to their encounter in "Long Way to Morning" that would make him hate Goliath more than Hudson and Prince Malcolm?
3. Did the Archmage ever find out the details about how Goliath survived into the 20th century?

Of course, I guess NONE of the plotting in "Avalon" was really the Archmage's idea, since he was merely instructed by his future self and probably didn't want to alter the plan by adding Malcolm or Hudson onto his black list.

Greg responds...

1. Probably not, but it doesn't matter. As you noted, he was, by this time, following the plan laid out by his empowered self. His vengeance on Malcolm was no longer relevant.

2. Rewatch "Long Way to Morning". Goliath was the IMMEDIATE cause of his "death".

3. Probably not, but it doesn't matter.

Response recorded on August 11, 2009

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Kevin Shane writes...

Why is Prince Malcolm unintelligent enough not to see the threat from the Archmage and to not see the bad effect of him telling his daughter to be afraid of gargoyles?

Greg responds...

I wouldn't call him unintelligent. You don't know the history, Mr. Judgemental. The Archmage was an invaluable ally for years.

Response recorded on September 16, 2008

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DECEMBER 30

This day in Gargoyles' Universe History....

December 30th...

1995
Macbeth and Demona attack the humans and gargoyles at Oberon's Palace, while the Magus faces off against the Weird Sisters at the Hollow Hill, and Goliath and Angela seek out the Archmage at the Grotto. At first things look grim, but Princess Katharine defeats Demona with help from Ophelia, the Guardian, Elisa Maza, Gabriel, Bronx and Boudicca. King Arthur Pendragon also defeats Macbeth, and the Magus captures the Weird Sisters, though it fatally weakens him. Goliath battles the Archmage, who uses the Phoenix Gate to bounce them around through Time and Space. But the Archmage cannot shake Goliath, and returns to the present, where Goliath succeeds in removing the Eye of Odin from his brow. Without the Eye, the energy from the Grimorum Arcanorum burns the Archmage to death from the inside out. The battle is over.


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DECEMBER 29

This day in Gargoyles' Universe History....

December 29th...

1995
Goliath, Angela and Gabriel attempt to steal the Eye of Odin and the Phoenix Gate from the Archmage. They fail. Meanwhile, Elisa Maza and the Magus succeed in waking the Sleeping King, Arthur Pendragon.


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DECEMBER 28

This day in Gargoyles' Universe History....

December 28th...

1065
Westminster Abbey, built by Edward the Confessor, is consecrated.

1994
David Xanatos, who is scheduled to be released from jail in one week, is contacted by Macbeth, who offers to rid the castle of gargoyles.

1995
Goliath and Tom the Guardian meet at Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Together with Elisa Maza and Bronx, they depart for Avalon, where they are introduced to the grown hatchlings of the Wyvern Clan, including Angela, Gabriel and Boudicca, and reunited with the Magus and Princess Katharine. Meanwhile, a recently transformed Archmage travels back in time...


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DECEMBER 22

This day in Gargoyles' Universe History....

December 22nd...

1995
Just before dawn, the gargoyles are attacked by "Macbeth". After sunrise, David Xanatos kidnaps Hudson's sleeping body and replaces it with a stone statue. At sundown, the other gargoyles awaken and believe that Macbeth has used sorcery to keep Hudson asleep. Goliath & Lexington search for a cure, while Brooklyn & Broadway protect the statue from "Macbeth". Meanwhile, Xanatos reveals that in his bid for immortality, he plans to use Hudson to test the Cauldron of Life. And on Avalon, the Archmages and their allies launch their attack on the Avalon Clan.


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TiniTinyTony writes...

Questions concerning Avalon Parts 1 - 3:

1) Will we see the adventures of Tom in any of the Gargoyles Spinoffs or main comic?
2) Will there be any repercussions for waking up King Arthur "early" and will we see those repercussions in the comics? If so, which comic?
3) Who's face is represented on the front of the Avalon boats?
4) Who's face is represented at the watery gateway to Avalon, where Magus turned the Weird Sisters into owls?
5) Do all 36 Avalon Gargoyles survive the Archmage's assault?
6) Any chance the magic in the sleeping hill will one day revive Magus or is he dead and gone forever?

Greg responds...

1. Yes, eventually.

2. Yes. Pendragon, among others.

3. Not revealing that at this time.

4. Ditto.

5. Yes.

6. Who am I to kill hope? Hope lives eternal. The Magus, on the other hand, is dead.

Response recorded on December 20, 2007


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