The world is on the cusp of the First World War, so what do the protagonists do next? Try to prevent the disaster that is the maiden voyage of the R. M. S. Titanic.

I… am actually kind of impressed. They are actually doing something that won’t involve killing for a change. Unfortunately, considering that the year is now 1913, they’re a bit late for that. The ship has already sunk. This is what happens, Rummel, when you skip over so many years. You miss vital things.

Thanks to some authorial magic, the year gets reset to 1912, and the story continues as though no messing around with the time-space continuum1 had occurred. But consider that last chapter’s escapade in China happened in February of 1912, and our nominal heroes stayed there for more than a month. Add in the fact that travel across the ocean in those days could take up to two weeks, and it is late March or early April before they could do anything at all. The Titanic sunk on the fifteenth of April.

Even though everyone and their brother knows the story of the Titanic, Rummel feels the need to begin this chapter with yet another newspaper excerpt. This is really getting tiresome.

After the unnecessary fluff, the chapter opens with this line:

Yes, she was a murderess. But a compassionate one. (page 277)

BULL. SHIT. Joy is the antithesis of compassionate. If one were to look up the word in a thesaurus, one would find her name listed under the antonyms. She kills in cold blood, feels naked without her semiautomatic weapons, and thinks that martial arts are meant to be used to clobber people. If she was not born a sociopath, then she has certainly lost her ability to empathize with others long before the story begins. So the claim that Joy is “compassionate” or that the sinking of the Titanic is a subject “near and dear to her heart”2 is just character shilling at its finest.

After I turned my Sue-dometer off because its incessant beeping was giving me a migraine, John contacts the president of the British Seafarers’ Union and tells him that he has long been a supporter of the union, and that the White Star Line plans to hire non-union workers in violation of their contract.

Leaving alone for the moment the fact that it’s ludicrous to believe that John Conservative-Darling Banks is ever a union supporter, this is a lie and he knows it. The lie is rather transparent too, since in his telegram John claims to have supported the British Seafarer’s Union for a long time. In actual fact, this particular union had only been formed the previous year. It broke away from the much larger National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union, accusing it of selling out. The president of the BSU should have known that something was up. It also proves that Rummel did not do even cursory research.

John anticipates this, and so, playing on society’s racism, hires a dozen people of African or Indian descent to stroll around the shipyard pretending to work there. A white person who did this would get fined at the very least; non-white people caught loitering would probably have gotten arrested. Stay classy, Rummel. The union is pissed off and calls for a strike against the White Star Line, even though all their evidence is fabricated and in those days corporations employed government help to crush strikes. A manager of the White Star Line later convinces the union that they were hoodwinked, but not before the launch date of the Titanic is postponed… by a whopping five days. Before people start getting suspicious, John sends a letter apologizing for his “mistake” and sends another five thousand (U.S.) dollars, “to show his sincerity”.3 But he isn’t sincere at all, and is so rich that five thousand bucks is nothing to him.

Of course, all this is a moot point if the White Star Line did not care about unions in the first place. Remember, this is the same company that cut costs on construction by skimping on lifeboats.

Speaking of that…

Despite the short delay, the Titanic makes her scheduled voyage without sinking, and everyone is happy. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how John averted the disaster. The ship still made her voyage through the same waters, at roughly the same time of year. There are always going to be icebergs in the North Atlantic. The Titanic had the same captain, Edward Smith, whose incompetence played a great part in the sinking. She still had a deficient number of lifeboats. The White Star Line is still under the delusion that their biggest ship cannot be sunk. Realistically, all John did was let the would-be victims live one week longer. From this, it is clear that Rummel does not actually know what caused the disaster.

Considering the actions taken later in the novel, one would expect our so-called heroes to get Captain Smith fired, or even offer to pay for the construction of the extra lifeboats themselves. They certainly have the money.4 Instead, they do no such thing.

Furthermore, the aftermath of the disaster caused the formation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which established safety regulations intended to ensure that an event such as the sinking of the Titanic could never happen again. Without that tragedy, there will be no incentive in the novel’s new universe to push through those reforms, meaning that it is only a matter of time before some idiots who run a shipping line repeat the mistake of the Titanic. In the end, it would be all for naught, and the New Universe would not necessarily be better than the old one, because people died in it who did not die “the first time around”.

So my question is, how on Earth did John and Joy push through such safety reforms, when the major shipping lines were enough opposed to them that it took a tragedy for ocean liners to be required to have enough lifeboats?5

With our alleged heroes celebrating enough to get drunk, the chapter ends. All in all, it was nothing more than filler.


1 At least, no more than the protagonists have already engendered with their time travel

2 page 277

3 page 278

4 Which is another thing. They have all that money, yet do not take any efforts to use that money for constructive purposes. It just goes to waste, only there when Rummel wants to remind us how rich his Self-Insert and his @#$%-buddy are when they plop down millions of dollars as a bribe.

5 Spoiler alert, this question is never answered.

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  1. swenson on 6 May 2013, 10:59 said:

    Just when you think the book can’t get any worse…

    Avert a war? Sure! Avert multiple wars? Why not! Hey, let’s stop the Titanic from sinking while we’re at it!

    When your protagonists can avert the sinking of the Titanic in a single chapter, that is a problem. (Unless you’re playing it for laughs and they averted the disaster completely by accident or something.) There’s got to be some struggle. And you’re right about the money—what about setting up social welfare programs? Oh wait, that sounds like evil communism. What about setting up programs to train people for jobs? Or some sort of a venue where companies needing workers and people looking for jobs can be matched? Or supporting education or art or something other than killing bad people?

    I just fail to see how they’re doing much good. The real problems in the world are not caused because one person did some bad stuff one time. There are a lot of things that build up together. Like killing Hitler probably wouldn’t have averted World War II. Maybe it’d avert the Holocaust, because maybe some other radical politician wouldn’t have come up with the “blame everything on the Jews” excuse, but the war itself was a result of a huge number of factors, starting with historic antagonism between France and Germany, not to mention the staggering reparations Germany had to pay after WWI and the Great Depression.

    tl;dr: Rommel has a ludicrously over-simplified view of history and has a very different set of priorities than I do.

  2. Juracan on 6 May 2013, 11:16 said:

    Building off of swenson’s point, sort of, does anyone have records of what history was like before the changes? Because while many of these things were terrible, the fact of the matter is that every horrifying thing that happened in history can be learned from. The sinking of the Titanic taught us how stupid it is to presume that nothing will go on.

    In short, not only do the characters not prevent someone else from making the exact same mistake at that point in history, but from people in the present and future. So if the Titanic didn’t sink, it might take a while before people wise up to making proper preventative measures on cruises. Heaven knows how that affects things like wars and politics.

  3. Apep on 6 May 2013, 11:32 said:

    Wait, if this entire issue was solved via telegrams, why did they even have to leave China? That just seems like a waste of time.

    Leaving alone for the moment the fact that it’s ludicrous to believe that John Conservative-Darling Banks is ever a union supporter

    Oh, the research fail. So Rummel is just going to ignore the fact that unions tend towards the Liberal side of politics, even today, and in the early 20th century, that meant Communism.

    in those days corporations employed government help to crush strikes

    That’s if they bothered to work with their governments, instead of just using hired muscle to break the strike. And “break” in this context means anything from “beating the strikers” to “opening fire on the workers.” Yeah, being in a union could be dangerous.

    Despite the short delay, the Titanic makes her scheduled voyage without sinking, and everyone is happy.

    Wait, what? So Rummel’s saying that his characters somehow managed to prevent this disaster, yet didn’t really change all that much? Did this guy put any thought into what he wrote?

    he aftermath of the disaster caused the formation of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which established safety regulations intended to ensure that an event such as the sinking of the Titanic could never happen again.

    And this is the real problem with “fixing” history. Yes, these events were terrible – so much so that afterwards, laws got passes to prevent these kinds of things. The same is going to go for WWI – we don’t use mustard gas or biological weapons, shell shock/battle fatigue/PTSD is acknowledged as a serious issue, and a bunch of other things I can’t remember. And that doesn’t even get into the political ramifications.

    Whatever. I’ll try to hold off until we actually get to the war.

  4. Brendan Rizzo on 6 May 2013, 11:52 said:

    Did this guy put any thought into what he wrote?

    If he did, would I be sporking it?

    Whatever. I’ll try to hold off until we actually get to the war.

    You don’t have to wait long. All that stuff happens in the very next chapter.

  5. Tim on 6 May 2013, 14:31 said:

    Maybe it’d avert the Holocaust, because maybe some other radical politician wouldn’t have come up with the “blame everything on the Jews” excuse

    Well, blaming everything on the Jews is more or less the default state of Europe for the preceding…well, the entire history of Europe. There’s woodcuts from the time of the Black Death showing people burning Jews for causing it. If anything the Holocaust made blaming the Jews for everything the position of only lunatics and racists rather than the default state of most of the Western world.

    So yay, we can look forward to a 2013 where it’s still cool to show Oliver Twist Fagin-like caricatures of scheming Jews with hooked noses in mainstream entertainment, all thanks to our heroes. And given there was no WW1 to get women into the factories you might even not have universal suffrage, let alone how having no Blacks in the army would have set back the cause of the Civil Rights movement (since a big issue was being able to die for a government you couldn’t vote for). So welcome to Rummel’s ideal future, where it’s 1900.


  6. Apep on 6 May 2013, 21:29 said:

    having no Blacks in the army

    African-Americans did serve in the military. They just got the really sucky jobs/served in all-black units. In fact, of the three main branches (Army, Navy, Air Force), the army was the most resistant to integration.

    But yeah, Rummel doesn’t seem to know anything about history. It’s like he just assumed that everyone always secretly believed his socio-political philosophy, and just needed someone to explain it to them.

  7. Tim on 6 May 2013, 23:37 said:

    African-Americans did serve in the military.

    Yeah, but I mean here there were no conflicts for them to serve in the military in. The fact that they served in WW2 and Vietnam was one of the points the Civil Rights movement made their case with, that a man could shed his blood for the country that wouldn’t let him sit on the same bus as his countrymen.

  8. Epke on 7 May 2013, 07:28 said:

    Considering Rummel’s grasp (or lack thereof) on history, I fully expected Joy to murder a street urchin named Jack and some rich lady called Rose, because they somehow caused the collision.

    I wonder if Rummel realises that many tragedies in our modern history has led to something better, some improvement of life: the removal of bio-weapons, women’s rights, technology, safety, equal rights… Not a direct result, but often the root or a large part of what lead to it.

    So welcome to Rummel’s ideal future, where it’s 1900.

    <hikes up his skirts and makes a run for it>

  9. swenson on 7 May 2013, 08:17 said:

    This is why I think these two should be doing more than stopping bad things. Even the worst thing can lead to something better, even if it’s just everybody getting together and agreeing never to do the bad thing again. But when you remove that bad experience that taught us a lesson, we’ve got to learn the lesson somehow. Which is where the social influence comes in.

    Yeah, but I mean here there were no conflicts for them to serve in the military in.

    And the simple fact that even if they served in different units, black men and white men die pretty much the same in a war. When you’re fighting for your life, you suddenly stop caring if the guy who saves your life is black or white.

  10. Brendan Rizzo on 7 May 2013, 08:25 said:

    So welcome to Rummel’s ideal world where it’s 1900.


    Which just proves my original point, that John and Joy did not travel back in time far enough. If they truly want to create a better universe, then they would need to prevent the root causes of discrimination to begin with. Even though you would think they could afford it, the narration never once shows our “heroes” giving support to the suffragists or the NAACP. Rummel seems to believe that those movements would have just gained support on their own. While I do think that women’s suffrage was pretty inevitable by the time period of the novels, the rest of women’s liberation may never have happened without women taking on necessary manufacturing jobs in the war. But John and Joy have pretty much killed the Civil Rights Movement dead in the water (at least until the mapping of the human genome, by which point it’s too late) unless they make some peaceful interventions, which they are not shown to ever do.

  11. Tim on 7 May 2013, 11:28 said:

    Yeah, I mean it was association with Hitler and Stalin that killed off “scientific” racism and the until-then quite popular pseudoscience of eugenics. So your 2013 Rummel-verse would need something pretty incredible to not still be writing texts about how Aborigines are a stage between apes and actual humans (I’ve seen an actual text from the 30s or so USA which said that), let alone having anything resembling equal rights.

  12. swenson on 7 May 2013, 11:35 said:

    On a semi-related note, very old atlases and biology books are hilarious when they’re not being unbelievably horrible. My sister has an atlas from the 1800s… it has some interesting opinions on certain corners of the world. Suffice to say that attitudes have changed considerably in just the past one or two hundred years.

  13. Brendan Rizzo on 7 May 2013, 14:19 said:

    Can you repeat what those atlases say Swenson, or would doing so require you to have N Word Priveleges?

  14. swenson on 7 May 2013, 15:11 said:

    Unfortunately I don’t have access to them right now… I’ll see if I can get my sister to dig them up, though. IIRC, it’s not so much specific slurs as it is the general attitude, but I could be misremembering.

  15. Tim on 7 May 2013, 16:58 said:

    To be honest, given the incomprehensible nature of the knock-on consequences of any action, you could alter the entirety of history by travelling back in time, having dinner at a fancy restaurant and giving the waiter a generous tip. Much easier than all of this nonsense and just as likely to have the desired consequences. It would be kind of hilarious to have a story that was just about some time-traveller going back and forth until he finds the right restaurant to bring about his preferred future.

    <Arrives in nuclear wasteland> “No, no, I knew I should have picked the salmon!” <jumps back into time machine>

  16. Maxie on 14 June 2013, 01:11 said:

    Wait, was it ever really explained how John and Joy were able to travel from 1913 to 1912? They don’t have the time machine any more, right?

  17. Brendan Rizzo on 14 June 2013, 08:32 said:

    They don’t actually go from 1913 to 1912. That was a joke on my part about Rummel’s clumsy scene transitions, in that he seemed to forget that he mentioned the year 1913 in the chapter before this one.

  18. Maxie on 2 July 2019, 10:54 said:

    @Brendan Rizzo

    Thanks, that makes some amount of sense, I guess. Honestly it might have been smart for them to have the time machine with them, if it hadn’t been destroyed by Tor’s team. Having to wait through the history to see if things go alright seems risky, since if they make a mistake there’s no way to fix it.