Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Endless Details Of The Technic History

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 17 September 2016:

Eridanus is a constellation. Thus, "Alpha Eridani I" would mean "the first planet of the first star in Eridanus." I do not know that there is such a planet but I understand that this would be the correct terminology. So what does "02 Eridani A II" mean? (See Poul Anderson,  David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 224.) I have found a reference to 02 Eridani B but do not understand it. In any case, 02 Eridani A II is a planet named Ta-chih-chien-pih by its inhabitants and Cynthia by human beings.

Chee Lan from Cynthia remembers "...warm ruddy sunlight and rustling leaves around treetop homes..." (pp. 224-225) We see a Cynthian colony on another planet in The Game Of Empire. These details about Cynthia come immediately after the details about the Merseian city of Ardaig in "Day of Burning."

"Poul Anderson immerses you in the future....Anderson puts you into a whole new world."
-Larry Niven, quoted on the back cover of David Falkayn: Star Trader.

This is an accurate account of Anderson's achievement and I would add that Anderson immerses us more effectively even than Robert Heinlein did.

In And Around Castle Afon

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 17 September 2016:

A bannister carved like a snake;
spacious rooms;
reptile-skin carpets;
mounted animal skulls;
crimson-draped walls;
balcony view of garden and Ardaig;
garden reminiscent of Japanese;
gray stone buildings;
fantastic turrets and battlements;
estates on the hills;
high modern buildings on the bay;
cargo ships and a jet;
nonessential traffic banned in this sacred Old Quarter.

Falkayn finds the decor disquieting but is by now well accustomed to alienness. As I have mentioned before, he remains perfectly relaxed while conversing with bizarrely shaped beings.

In this post, I have summarized two paragraphs of "Day of Burning." I suspect that Poul Anderson imagined all these details from the carved snake bannister to the sacred Old Quarter while writing these paragraphs and that we as readers usually forget them as soon as we move on to the dialogue between Falkayn and his servant.

The Audience Chamber Of Castle Afon

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 17 September 2016:

Centuries apart, both David Falkayn and Max Abrams stand in the audience chamber of Castle Afon in Ardaig on Merseia. Falkayn is Nicholas van Rijn's protege and Abrams is Dominic Flandry's mentor.

Falkayn sees:

a high, gaunt, echoing chamber of unhuman proportions;
woven tapestries on stone walls;
windows arched at top and bottom;
battle banners hanging from rafters;
a hearth with a fire big enough to roast an elephant;
armored, demon-masked troopers lining the hall, bearing curved swords, barbed pikes and guns;
the Hand of the Vach Dathyr in orange robes and horned miter.

Abrams sees:

long, flagged floor;
high walls;
narrow windows arched at top and bottom;
sawtoothed vaulting;
proportions wrong by Terran criteria but not here;
demonic mask helmets on suits of armor;
faded tapestries;
rustling battle banners;
unhuman symbology;
a dragon carved in black wood;
the black-robed Hand of the Vach Ynvory lifting a spear and crashing it down in salute.

Some of us might remember James Blish's Jack Loftus in the audience room of the Hegemon of Malis (here).

Distance And Giganticism

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 1 September 2016:

In this post, we compare and contrast an adult fantasy novel with a juvenile sf novel:

Poul Anderson, Three Hearts And Three Lions (London, 1977);
James Blish, Mission To The Heart Stars (London, 1980).

(When referring to CS Lewis, we found an accidental "Lion" theme in the titles. With Blish, there is an accidental "Heart" theme.)

Anderson's Holger Carlsen has been transported from our Earth or one like it to a mythological Earth where a demon says that:

"' are from far away, so far that a man might travel till Judgment Day and not reach your home.'" (Three Hearts..., Chapter Two, p. 22)

- and, after arriving in that distant world, Holger must make a long journey by horseback into Faerie.

Blish's Jack Loftus and his companions take well over two years at faster than light speeds to reach the galactic Heart Stars. Thus, Jack travels not only to the galactic center but also into adulthood: a rite of passage story.

Invited to dinner, Holger enters:

"...a chamber so huge he could scarcely see the end or the ceiling." (Three Hearts..., Chapter Seven, p. 45)

They dance in an even larger chamber.

The Heart Stars confederation is called the Hegemony of Malis. When Jack enters the Hegemon's audience room:

he compares it to the Hall of the Mountain King;
it is of stone and artificially lit;
its ceiling cannot be seen;
Jack feels that there might be clouds beneath the ceiling;
it is like the universe's biggest cathedral although not cathedral-like in atmosphere;
many unidentifiable machines, all dissimilar, are spaced along its walls;
the place is uncluttered, austere and built to last, away from earthquake zones;
the Hegemon is over eight feet tall, blocky, powerful, granite-colored, facially resembling an Easter Island statue and wearing an undecorated black tunic with bare arms and legs;
although Earth has made an alliance with the immortal Star Dwellers, who are capable of collapsing galaxies, the Hegemon's machines predict that the Dwellers will not intervene if the Hegemony forcibly annexes Earth;
he so orders.

In The Hall Of The Mountain-King, Whether On Earth Or On Merseia

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 28 June 2916:

The hall of troll-king Illrede:

in a mountain cave;
hewn out of rock;
stolen gems and tapestries on the walls;
expensive goblets and cloths on ebony and ivory tables;
fires burning down the length;
rich garments on troll lords and ladies;
elf, dwarf and goblin thralls carrying trenchers of human, Faerie and animal meat and cups of southern wine;
snarling music;
smoky air;
ruddy light;
guards, "...moveless as heathen idols...," (The Broken Sword, p. 64) with glinting spears;
gobbling, guzzling, quarrelling trolls;
a thunderous din;
quiet lords in carven seats;
Illrede, fat and wrinkled, with long green tendrils for a beard and wearing a gold crown.

Colorful, barbaric and vividly imagined. Since trolls are large, green, humanoid and hostile, comparisons with Poul Anderson's alien Merseians are inevitable. In the audience chamber of Castle Afon:

"The mask helmets on suits of armor grinned like demons. The pattern of faded tapestries and rustling battle banners held no human symbology. For this was Old Wilwidh, before the machine came to impose universal sameness. It was the well-spring of Merseia. You had to see a place like this if you would understand, in your bones, that Merseains would never be kin to you." (Young Flandry, p. 141)