Friday, 29 June 2012

The Avatar VIII

Could Anderson not have written an entire novel about jumps through T machines, leaving out the pettiness of characters like Ira Quick and his Russian colleague? Well, the novel is about humanity as well as about the cosmos. Resistance to progress must be overcome.

The Others are what some characters in this and other works by Anderson seek, an Elder Race, but the seekers of the Elders would be disappointed to learn that usually the Others neither guide nor intervene and will not return. However, their avatar, Caitlin Mulryan, learns that in a few centuries human beings will individually start to become Others so a racial apotheosis approaches.

Caitlin is almost perfect not because she has sex with a lot of men but because she understands how to incorporate sex into friendship and healing. She even wins over and helps her main lover's hostile brother-in-law.

One sickening scene is the infatuated Aurelia Hancock pleading for clemency for Ira Quick.

"...he honestly thought he was doing what must be done..." (1)

debases the word "honestly."

When the Others construct and pass through a T machine, they must take with them enough materials to build another T machine for the return journey, an enormous task. Chinook ran the risk of emerging where there was no T machine and being stranded.

At any time, the Others are constructing a new T machine at the frontier of their existing network. The frontier reached by Chinook is the end of this universe and the beginning of another. Could the time travel aspect of T machines mean that the current Others are visited by their future selves or descendants? What might have happened in a sequel?

(1) Anderson, Poul, The Avatar, London, 1985, p.396.

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