Monday, 15 September 2014

The Exploration Of Gray IV

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 4 July 2014.

See previous posts.

Like some later Terran invaders of Avalon, Olga Berg is dying of hell shrub poisoning, although Pete and his Ythrian companions do not yet know the cause. Pete leaves the camp so that he can be alone when he screams at heaven:

"'Why did You do this to her, why did You do it?'"
-Poul Anderson, "The Problem of Pain" IN Anderson, The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979), pp. 26-48 AT p. 44.

After kneeling for an hour, he is able to say, "Your will be done," (p. 45) and return. Like an Ythrian, he has fought with and honored God, although Pete would not see it like that.

"Israel" means "he struggled with God"?

"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
"to mould me man? Did I solicit thee
"From darkness to promote me? -"
(Adam in Paradise Lost, quoted by Frankenstein's Monster.)

"Lord who made me as I am,
"Would it upset some divine plan,
"If I were a wealthy man?"
(Fiddler On The Roof, from memory.)

I ask similar questions although I cannot address them to a personal Creator.

After the death of Arrach, the crippling of Enherrian and Olga's mortal illness, the climax of "The Problem of Pain" is reached when Pete returns to the camp. He had sedated Olga so that she would sleep peacefully till death. Instead, he finds her awake and in extreme pain and a second injection has little effect. He must hold her till she dies:

"...it was like seeing a light blown out." (p. 45)

Enherrian says it is well that she is fallen. Thinking that Pete had miscalculated, he gave her a stim shot. Enherrian honors both Pete and Olga too much to deny Olga her deathpride. Did Pete not want her "'...to give God a battle?'" (p. 46)

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