Sunday, 10 March 2013

Ya-Kela

Like several of Poul Anderson's Prologues, Forewords or opening chapters, Chapter I of World Without Stars (New York, 1966) introduces a setting that will reappear later in the novel and presents statements that will not make sense until later.

The viewpoint character, ya-Kela, the One of the Pack, is alien, with "...webs and tail..." (p. 6) His society is hunter-gatherer and is active at night whereas their enemies, the downdevils and Herd, are active during the day.

Creatures came from the sky long ago so we expect to read about human beings or other space travelers visiting ya-Kela's planet. Like some other Anderson aliens, the Pack are monotheists. Ya-Kela, standing "...his watch of homage on behalf of the whole folk...," sings the Welcome, the Praise and the Strength to God. (pp. 5-6)

This does not surprise us. What is unusual is that ya-Kela sees God "...rising in the west..." (p. 5) First, the fingers of God's forearm appeared, then "...His entire self was revealed." (p. 5) Later, after sunset, "..God, the angels, and three planets..." are in the sky. (p. 6) God is revered because He " '...casteth out the sun...'" (p. 6)

We might guess, helped by the cover illustration of this edition, that "God" is our galaxy seen from a planet in intergalactic space but that is not disclosed in Chapter I.

3 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    I assume the ocver of the edition of WORLD WITHOUT STARS you mentioned is the one painted by Kelly Freas. Very striking! But Anderson commented that it was the painting of a view of the galaxy by Chesley Bonestell which helped inspire him to write WWS. Alas, I've not yet found a good reproduction of that Bonestell painting.

    Sean

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  2. Yes, it is by Kelly Freas and has appeared on this blog already so I didn't repeat it here.

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Paul!

      Thought so! And I've also tried again to track down the Bonestell painting mentioned by Anderson. Still no luck finding it.

      Sean

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