Sunday, 9 December 2012

Rogue Sword V

In Rogue Sword (New York, 1960), Poul Anderson imagines an interesting extension of Norse mythology into Christian cosmology. The simple, superstitious Pedro imagines that, if his side loses a battle:

" '...we'll be enrolled in good St George's host. I daresay fine booty can be had from a raid on Hell...seeing how many bishops and moneylenders dwell there.' " (p. 94)

But they don't take it with them, Pedro! Pagan chiefs were buried with personal possessions but not bishops. A raid on Hell sounds absurd but does happen in Anderson's fantasy, Operation Chaos. Both Anderson, in Operation..., and Neil Gaiman, in a Sandman story, followed Robert Heinlein's Magic Inc. By contrast, the blurb on an edition of James Blish's Black Easter described the demons as making a raid on the universe.

Pedro's theology continues. He knows that his side fights in God's cause because:

" 'Priest says so. Priest knows about these things. A mercy of Heaven, that common folk like me needn't bother our heads.' " (p. 94)

It does not occur to him that because, in this battle both sides are Christian, the enemy has priests as well.

Pedro suggests that Lucas thinks too much and Lucas agrees but the obvious rejoinder is that Pedro thinks too little or not at all. When he guffaws at an absurd joke, Lucas envies him his simplicity. I do not. Better to be Socrates unhappy than a pig ecstatic.

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