The Wrath Of Kubla Khan
Entry 285 posted in: b. Dirk Gently
This is another episode from my quest for the ultimate answer on the question: 'How Does Dirk Gently Really Ends?'
I may not have been the only gentle reader with this question and several answers have already been published on this site, some dating from 1995. But sorry mates, I cannot ‘believe’ these explanations. Let me explain, but before I forget…
S P O I L E R S A H E A D
Most of the book runs in an alternative timeline that has an extended Kubla Khan poem by Coleridge but has no knowledge of Johann Sebastian Bach. It is the top line from the figure underneath.
What happens in the novel is that Dirk Gently, a retired time lord and an extra-terrestrial ghost go back in time to a point of about 4 giga-years ago, just a few minutes before life on earth started. This is represented by the Ka-Boom branch on the time tree below.
The ghost starts walking towards the spaceship and from that moment on the timeline has already been changed. The only thing the ghost has to do is to to prevent the explosion that will cause life on earth. After that (non) event the timeline will change irreversibly into the bottom No Ka-Boom branch.
What Douglas Adams conceives is this: our heroes, who have realized their mistake, hurry back forward to Coleridge in 1797, protected by some space-time-warp-bubble inside the time machine and by changing the poem of Kubla Khan they not only change the future but also the past?!
This is simply not possible in a time travelling story where time has a linear structure, because when they arrive in 1797 they will find no Coleridge, no Cambridge, no United Kingdom. They will not find a single human soul alive simply because humankind will never have existed. All they will find in 1797 is an earth inhabited by intelligent tentacle things who took our planet as their holiday resort and who will go yummy yummy when they organize a big Dirk Gently barbecue.
If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Gentle Ghosts