Tuesday, 4 September 2012
"Waldo" and "Magic, Inc.," two short narratives published in a single volume, are conceptually connected though without any direct cross-reference. "Waldo" is the source of the technical term "waldo." In that story, characters perform otherwise impossible feats by accessing energy from another universe. One obvious question, not raised in this work, is whether that other universe is inhabited. "Magic, Inc.," can be seen as replying affirmatively.
In the second story, "...magic works - and is treated quite matter-of-factly as a set of technologies." (Introduction)
Thus, a transport company uses a flying carpet. Since magic does not work on or above consecrated ground, a carpet flying above a church falls straight down onto the church, thus raising legal issues like insurance claims and compensation payments. Hence, Anderson's descriptive phrase, "matter-of-factly." Supernatural realms and beings like Hell and demons exist. Near the end, our heroes visit Hell and confront Satan who convenes a gathering of all his demons.
Neil Gaiman has said that that demonic gathering inspired a similar Infernal crowd scene in his graphic series, The Sandman. In graphic fiction, of course, we do not read a description but literally see the demons as drawn to the author's instructions.
In Operation Chaos, which I am about to reread, magic works and is treated as a technology and the narrative ends with a raid into Hell. Thus, it is appropriate to acknowledge Heinleinian inspiration which Anderson does both in the Introduction and by dedicating the book to Robert and Virginia Heinlein, the latter possibly having influenced at least the name of the heroine.