Saturday, 16 June 2012

Anderson Celebrates Life

Poul Anderson celebrates humanity throughout history and into speculative futures. His characters inhabit diverse locations, including:

Hiram's Tyre;
the legendary Ys;
the city of Gray on the planet Avalon;
a future era, the "Winter of the World," when technology has been lost.

They can struggle for survival or enjoy great wealth, can meet gods, aliens or superior AI, may be pious like Gratillonius of Ys and van Rijn of the League or cynical like Everard of the Patrol and Flandry of the Empire. What they have in common is that they live and Anderson conveys their sensations and perceptions.

While an escaped mutineer hides, floating in the water of a harbor, he smells salt, smoke, tar and fish, sees docks, warehouses, fishing smacks and steamboats and -

"Inshore, Newkeep raised walls, towers, battlements. The light of a newly risen sun glowed on lichenous brick, flashed off high windows, gave back red and gold from the Imperial standard which flew above...Despite its name, as commonly translated by the Seafolk, Newkeep was over three thousand years old." (1)

It is always worth rereading Anderson's novels to savor descriptive passages. Here, our viewpoint character is on the run, in danger of his life and up to his neck in water but, like van Rijn feasting and conniving, he is alive.

(1) Anderson, Poul, The Winter Of The World, New York, 1976, p. 19.

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