Thursday, 28 February 2013

Judgement And Doomsday II

Having compared titles, let us also compare opening sentences.

"The fall of God put Theron Ware in a peculiarly unenviable position, though he was hardly alone." (James Blish, Black Easter and The Day After Judgement, London, 1981, p. 119)

" 'Earth is dead. They murdered our Earth!' " (Poul Anderson, After Doomsday, Frogmore, St Albans, Herts, 1975, p. 7)

The Day After Judgement is a sequel so it can begin with a casual reference to the death of God which had been announced by a demon at the end of Black Easter. The real existence of supernatural beings, God, angels and demons, makes these works fantasies.

After Doomsday is a single novel with a dramatic opening sentence. If "...our Earth..." is dead, then how can one of its inhabitants know this? He is in a spaceship that has just returned from outside the Solar System so this is a work of science fiction (sf).

A friend who borrowed my copy of After Doomsday thought it was bad but I cannot help agreeing with James Blish and the Lancaster sf bookseller Pete Pinto both of whom said effectively that something about it makes it a complete novel. Pete used the phrase "complete novel" and Jim Blish said much the same. I will elaborate in later posts. Like two other Anderson novels, Tau Zero and World Without Stars, After Doomsday starts with a very basic sf premise and derives what reads like a comprehensive set of consequences from that premise. Like many of Anderson's works, it could have initiated a series. I will shortly reread After Doomsday and comment further.

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