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"Second" chances

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
"Second" chances
Post by Salisria   » Sat Jun 04, 2022 6:29 pm

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The Safehold system of timekeeping has always seemed odd to me given Langhorne's intent of severing humanity from its past and its technology. Keeping the second makes clockmaking more intricate than it needed to be and keeps a link to past standards of metrology. Abandoning the second means there's no need for a short compensate hour. It makes me wonder if someone who kept hidden his opposition to Langhorne's plan might have appealed to Langhorne's vanity by naming compensate after him to keep the second alive.

Similarly, keeping month and day names rather than replacing them with Archangel names or something else makes little sense internally. I realize that doing so as a convenience for the reader is the probable external reason for this. However, if Langhorne and/or Chihiro planned all along to make Shan Wei into a Lucifer figure, it would make reasonable the decision to not name months or weekdays after archangels from an in-universe perspective. Still leaves inexplicable why not simply number the months and weekdays. (Clearly the reason for dropping December instead of February was to avoid suppressed memories of December 25 from breaking through in any of the Adams and Eve's who were Christian.)

Now that I've had a chance to think on this while writing, from an in-universe perspective it seems to me that rather than keeping an abbreviated Western calendar, a lunar or lunisolar calendar with each month being exactly one lunation of Langhorne, with each new moon marking Langhorne's Day at the start of the month would be more likely. However, such a calendar would confuse most readers.
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by isaac_newton   » Mon Jun 06, 2022 9:20 am

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Salisria wrote:The Safehold system of timekeeping has always seemed odd to me given Langhorne's intent of severing humanity from its past and its technology. Keeping the second makes clockmaking more intricate than it needed to be and keeps a link to past standards of metrology. Abandoning the second means there's no need for a short compensate hour. SNIP .


in world, that seems to have been a serious motivation for many of Langhornes choices - extra grit in the eye hindering the way back to industrialisation
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by Salisria   » Mon Jun 06, 2022 1:07 pm

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isaac_newton wrote:
in world, that seems to have been a serious motivation for many of Langhorne's choices - extra grit in the eye hindering the way back to industrialisation


Except that we know that Safeholdians must have some way to determine when to observe Langhorne's Watch, which requires an advanced system of gearing for clocks. Having Langhorne's Watch isn't grit, it's grease that makes it easier to industrialize by encouraging Safeholdians to develop accurate chronometers so they can better observe the Watch. In our own history, a significant push towards developing accurate clocks came from monks wanting to observe various religious offices at the proper time. The other major push came from astrology, so to deter the development of accurate chronology, Langhorne should never have established his Watch and he should have anathematized astrology.

It would make far more sense from an anti-technology perspective to go back to a pre-clock system of chronology with no such thing as a standard second (or even standard hour). Before clocks, the day and night were each divided into twelve hours and the length of an hour varied from day to day.
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by isaac_newton   » Tue Jun 07, 2022 9:59 am

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Salisria wrote:
isaac_newton wrote:
in world, that seems to have been a serious motivation for many of Langhorne's choices - extra grit in the eye hindering the way back to industrialisation


Except that we know that Safeholdians must have some way to determine when to observe Langhorne's Watch, which requires an advanced system of gearing for clocks. Having Langhorne's Watch isn't grit, it's grease that makes it easier to industrialize by encouraging Safeholdians to develop accurate chronometers so they can better observe the Watch. In our own history, a significant push towards developing accurate clocks came from monks wanting to observe various religious offices at the proper time. The other major push came from astrology, so to deter the development of accurate chronology, Langhorne should never have established his Watch and he should have anathematized astrology.

It would make far more sense from an anti-technology perspective to go back to a pre-clock system of chronology with no such thing as a standard second (or even standard hour). Before clocks, the day and night were each divided into twelve hours and the length of an hour varied from day to day.


all you say is true... but

maybe he was thinking that once a 'static' society matrix had been setup, and was functioning 'happily' [especially under constant church oversight] that these somewhat arbitary benefits/features would be seen as 'perfect' and so not needing improvement. I suppose he hads his dreams of a peaceful world with no strivings...
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by Salisria   » Thu Jun 09, 2022 4:41 pm

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isaac_newton wrote: maybe he was thinking that once a 'static' society matrix had been setup, and was functioning 'happily' [especially under constant church oversight] that these somewhat arbitrary benefits/features would be seen as 'perfect' and so not needing improvement. I suppose he had his dreams of a peaceful world with no strivings...


There are all sorts of plausible results had Shan-Wei not set up her first and second strings. Which way it might have gone we'll never know, and any writer of a fan fiction in which things had gone more as Langhorne imagined could plausibly present the resulting future of Safehold as being semi-utopian (benign theocracy), dystopian (malign theocracy), or apocalyptic (Gbaba finishes off an unaware post-theocratic humanity).

Personally, I think Langhorne probably planned all along on Shan-Wei being forced into playing the Lucifer role, he just didn't plan on her contingency plans or on Kau-Yung's vest pocket revenge.
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Fri Jun 10, 2022 1:21 am

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Salisria wrote:
isaac_newton wrote: maybe he was thinking that once a 'static' society matrix had been setup, and was functioning 'happily' [especially under constant church oversight] that these somewhat arbitrary benefits/features would be seen as 'perfect' and so not needing improvement. I suppose he had his dreams of a peaceful world with no strivings...


There are all sorts of plausible results had Shan-Wei not set up her first and second strings. Which way it might have gone we'll never know, and any writer of a fan fiction in which things had gone more as Langhorne imagined could plausibly present the resulting future of Safehold as being semi-utopian (benign theocracy), dystopian (malign theocracy), or apocalyptic (Gbaba finishes off an unaware post-theocratic humanity).

Personally, I think Langhorne probably planned all along on Shan-Wei being forced into playing the Lucifer role, he just didn't plan on her contingency plans or on Kau-Yung's vest pocket revenge.


The Gang of Four would have crushed Charis without Merlin (perhaps slowly, rather than quickly). Charis wouldn't had been Charis without the Brethren of Saint Zherneau. However, I don't see how that would have changed the corruption of the Church. Nimue (well the download in the PICA) thought that the wheels were already coming off Langhorne's perfect plan (of course the orbital bombardment system would had messed up any attempt of the post-church civilization to industrialize).
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Beowulf was bad.
(first sentence of Chapter VI of _Space Viking_ by H. Beam Piper)
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by Salisria   » Fri Jun 10, 2022 5:23 am

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Robert_A_Woodward wrote:The Gang of Four would have crushed Charis without Merlin (perhaps slowly, rather than quickly). Charis wouldn't had been Charis without the Brethren of Saint Zherneau. However, I don't see how that would have changed the corruption of the Church. Nimue (well the download in the PICA) thought that the wheels were already coming off Langhorne's perfect plan (of course the orbital bombardment system would had messed up any attempt of the post-church civilization to industrialize).


IIRC, the inquisition (or at least the Book of Schueller) was a consequence of the War Against the Fallen. If as intended, the destruction of the Alexandria enclave had been a clean sweep, there would have been no war and a benign theocracy would have been a possibility.

As for the rakurai, no system would last forever. It would likely take myriads of years before the orbital bombardment system would fail, perhaps by misidentifying Zion as a target.
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by Salisria   » Fri Jun 10, 2022 10:24 pm

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I was thinking about something else (railroads) and I realized it pertained to this topic. Historically, railroads were a major factor in making accurate chronology widespread. They needed it to keep the trains running on time. 8-)

Moreover, railroads are what led to the switch from solar time to standard time. Problem is, Safehold can't implement standard time right now as they don't have electricity. They have to be using solar time, which has even less reason to be including a compensate period in its chronology than if they were using some system of solar time.

(It's possible pre-War Against The Fallen, the archangels were providing standard time to the colonists through those signal towers we saw announcing an angel's arrival at the start of OAR, but I can't see that as being part of Langhorne's long-term plan. If it had been, then those towers should have still been providing Zion Standard Time throughout Safehold by the time Nimue awoke.)
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by Louis R   » Sat Jun 11, 2022 12:05 pm

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Good, relatively inexpensive chronometry, perhaps. _accurate_ chronometry was the domain of the mariner - it doesn't matter to a train if your watch is off by a few seconds, but the rock ripping out your keel wouldn't have been there if you weren't those few seconds off in your longitude calculation.

What we can thank the railways for is standardised time zones. That was the key innovation that let the trains run on time.

I have a feeling that time-keeping was so deeply engrained in their culture that it simply didn't occur to Langhorne & Co. to eliminate it; they just played with it a bit around the edges. Yet another indicator, like the switch to Roman numerals, of just how profoundly ignorant of the history of mathematics, science and technology they were [not their fault, really: few of the things 'everyone knows' on the subject are correct].

The semaphore network is fast enough that standard times could be established - transmission delays could actually be measured fairly accurately, give what we know of their clocks - but I don't know if they bothered. This one has to be classed under 'no data given' because what time it was in different places has never been relevant to the story.


Salisria wrote:I was thinking about something else (railroads) and I realized it pertained to this topic. Historically, railroads were a major factor in making accurate chronology widespread. They needed it to keep the trains running on time. 8-)

Moreover, railroads are what led to the switch from solar time to standard time. Problem is, Safehold can't implement standard time right now as they don't have electricity. They have to be using solar time, which has even less reason to be including a compensate period in its chronology than if they were using some system of solar time.

(It's possible pre-War Against The Fallen, the archangels were providing standard time to the colonists through those signal towers we saw announcing an angel's arrival at the start of OAR, but I can't see that as being part of Langhorne's long-term plan. If it had been, then those towers should have still been providing Zion Standard Time throughout Safehold by the time Nimue awoke.)
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Re: "Second" chances
Post by Salisria   » Sat Jun 11, 2022 1:36 pm

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Louis R wrote:Good, relatively inexpensive chronometry, perhaps. _accurate_ chronometry was the domain of the mariner - it doesn't matter to a train if your watch is off by a few seconds, but the rock ripping out your keel wouldn't have been there if you weren't those few seconds off in your longitude calculation.

We don't have any mention of ships' chronometers in the series. I don't recall any mention of using sun or star sightings to establish positions until airships are available, and those more stable platforms won't require anything as complicated for accurate timekeeping.

As for trains, if one is running trains on a single track line, accurate timekeeping is definitely needed to avoid head on collisions unless one is going to inefficiently limit when trains go each way to specific times of day.

Historically, railroads achieved time synchronization using electrically synchronized clocks. I doubt semaphore synchronized clocks could be more than a minute or two in synchrony, though that might be sufficient for railroad use, if traffic loads aren't that high.
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