Tuesday, 4 September 2012

"Operation Afreet"

This is neat:

in Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos (New York, 1995), the countries waging World War II cannot use atomic weapons because the Tibetans keep turning "...anitnuclear warfare prayer wheels..." (p. 18);

transformation into a werewolf, formerly requiring a bright full moon, really needs only polarised light of certain wavelengths to trigger the pineal gland so Polaroid mass markets a WereWish Lens.

The narrator, a werewolf on an undercover operation in World War II, tells us that "...human language doesn't have the words..." to describe the were experience, then proceeds to describe it. (p. 19) His vision is weaker: blurred stars; a colourless flat world. His enhanced hearing, into the supersonic, "...made the night almost a roar..." (p. 19) He smells wet grass, dirt, "...the hot sweet little odor of a scampering field mouse, the clean tang of oil and guns, a faint harshness of smoke..." (p. 19)

An effort of trained will keeps his human memories and purposes in charge of his wolf's nerves, glands, instincts and limited intelligence. Weres in the old days had not had the right habits drilled into them from birth.

The enemy wear turbans around their helmets, an early hint that this World War II is not being waged against Germany. An enemy aircraft passing overhead is, of course, a carpet carrying men and machine guns. Flying carpets are familiar magical equipment and were used in "Magic, Inc." but, with many of the other details, Anderson confirms in these opening pages what he had said in the Introduction, namely that: "There were many more possibilities..." in the concept of magic as technology than had been presented in Heinlein's original work.

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