Friday, 14 June 2013

Autumn In The High Sierra

Chapter III of A Stone In Heaven tells us that:

"Vice Admiral Sir Dominic Flandry maintained three retreats..." (Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy, New York, 2012, p. 28)

- and describes his main home base in Archopolis. The concluding fourteenth chapter of the novel mentions his cabin with its small accompanying area of land in the High Sierra - which was also the setting of an important conversation remembered near the end of World Without Stars. (See here.)

The cabin is not described although we are told that Chives will fish for trout for dinner that evening. Flandry and Banner walk into scenery described by Anderson: clear air; dark firs; golden aspen; a canyon; snow on distant, high rocks; cloudless sky; bright sun; a hovering hawk. At the very end:

"They walked on into the autumn." (p. 188)

One unanswered question is what became of the would-be usurper Cairncross? Was he killed by his men or did he go to the barbarians or the Merseians? We do not need to know. Loose ends exist in life so they can exist in fiction. For once, I do not wish that Anderson had written a further story or novel to elucidate. But Aycharaych is another matter...

Chapter XIV, like the corresponding concluding chapter of Anderson's earlier Technic History novel, Mirkheim, expresses and evokes endings. In Mirkheim, Chee Lan says that we cannot return to our home as we remember it because we have changed even if it has not. Banner says:

"'Everything has changed, been shattered, could be rebuilt but never in the same shape. Half of me died when Yewwl [the Ramnuan whose perceptions she shared] did...I don't want to begin again with another Ramnuan. Our sisterhood, Yewwl's and mine, was wonderful, I'll always warm my soul by it, but it came to be when we were young, and that is gone.'" (p. 187)

- but she and Flandry get together, as he says a little old and a little sad but friends, a new beginning in an autumn.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Now that you've mentioned it, I too wonder what Flandry's cabin in the High Sierra was like, both in appearance and amenities. Not as elaborate, of course, as his main home in Archopolis, but adequate. I would guess it had five rooms (plus washing and sanitary facilities).