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This unusual device first appears in Thief of Time with important roles, and makes a cameo appearance in Night Watch. If we consider that devices may be classified as: 1) purely mechanical (e.g. Going-Under-The-Water-Safely Device), 2) powered by demons (e.g. Iconograph), and 3) made to measure magical phenomena (e.g. Thaumometer), then the procrastinator is still something else. A procrastinator is a device that taps into the river, or perhaps ocean, of the time dimension of the space-time continuum.

The procrastinator was invented by Wen the Eternally Surprised, founder of the History Monks' monastery, which now has a cavernous hall like a factory full of procrastinators. A procrastinator is a standing cylinder on an axle, and the rolling of the cylinder can "wind in" or "wind out" time much as a spool can be used to wind yarn. Stone procrastinators the size of pillars are used to slowly wind a large amount of time (up to millions of years). Procrastinators vary by size and material, down to small chalk cylinders that spin quickly to precisely wind time in seconds. Trained drivers in the hall of procrastinators switch each of the procrastinators between winding in and winding out, to give areas of the world and history the time that they need, and to compensate for localized time anomalies. When there is a severe time anomaly, the procrastinators may cut loose and almost randomly wind time in and out on their own. In such a situation, a very experienced or very clever driver is needed to couple the procrastinators in pairs of winding time in and out at the same speed, to achieve overall balance.

These device are evocative of mechanical flywheels, cylinders or discs that can store or release kinetic energy, thereby spinning faster or slower. Qu, the History Monk equivalent of the Quartermaster (hence "Q") to the double-0 agents in the James Bond stories, developed a portable model of procrastinator, that can be worn as a backpack, and can cut in to supply time if a History Monk on a mission needs more time. This type of procrastinator is powered by a wind-up spring.


From the pen of the prolific Roundworld eighteenth century English poet Edward Young (1683 - 1765):

Procrastination is the thief of time:
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,

And to the mercies of a moment leaves

The vast concerns of an eternal scene

  • Procrastination literally means "to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness".