Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Crew Of Leonora Christine I

Let's keep track of the crew of the interstellar spaceship Leonora Christine in Poul Anderson's Tau Zero (London, 1973) and see whether we meet all fifty before the end of the novel. By the end of Chapter 4, of 23, we have met:

Charles Reymont, constable;
Ingrid Lindgren, first officer;
Lars Talender, captain;
Norbert Williams, chemist;
Chi-Yuen Ai-Ling, planetologist;
Jane Sadler, biotechnician;
Boris Fedoroff, chief engineer;
Emma Glassgold, molecular biologist;
Elof Nilsson, astronomer;
Johann Freiwald, machinist.

Bob Shaw once commented that, in Tau Zero, the cosmic passages are not integrated with character interaction passages but it is difficult to see how else Anderson could have written the novel.

One cosmic passage begins:

"Consider: a single light-year is an inconceivable abyss." (p. 38)

Here, the omniscient narrator of the cosmic passages directly addresses the reader with the imperative verb "Consider..." I think that on this occasion the narrative voice becomes too obtrusive. The text should remain as detached and impersonal as possible with the illusion that the cosmic facts are transparent to the reader without requiring any mediating narrative voice.

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