Thursday, 1 August 2013

Brontothor

On June 30 and July 1 last year, I posted a two-part Chronology of Poul Anderson's "Flight to Forever" (IN Anderson, Alight In The Void, New York, 1993, pp. 161-240), which I thought was comprehensive although, on rereading the story, I realize that a few more dates should have been included:

in 43,000 AD, the nonhuman Grimmani built the massive stone fortress of Brontothor on Earth;
in 44,000 AD, Brontothor was blasted out of action;
between 49,000 and 50,000, the Galactic Emperor lost his fleet, fled to the Periphery, made Earth the Galactic capital and renovated parts of Brontothor;
in 50,000 AD, the time projector arrived outside Brontothor.

The Grimanni sound like Germani or other barbarians who invaded the Roman Empire in history and in historical fictions by Poul Anderson.

Brontothor is a fantastic setting:

"A gray stone mass dominated the landscape. It stood enormous a few miles off, its black walls sprawling over incredible acres, its massive crenellated towers reaching gauntly into the sky. And it lay half in ruin, torn and tumbled stone distorted by energies that once made rock run molten, blurred by uncounted millennia of weather - old." (p. 201)

- but there is a banner flying.

One of Brontothor's occupants describes it as:

"A haunted fortress on a frozen ghost world..." (p. 204)

Earth is frozen and inhabited by "Only a few starveling savages..." because there was "...a weapon...which consumed atmospheric carbon dioxide." (pp. 208-209)

The time travelers are entertained in a small council chamber "...hung with tapestries and carpeted with skins..." because the great hall is too huge,empty, dark and hollow. (p. 206)

"Flight to Forever" ends with echoes of The Time Machine and of another Anderson story. Because the Morlocks moved the Time Machine into the White Sphinx, it returns to the nineteenth century in a different part of the Time Traveler's laboratory. Because the time projector was stored in a warehouse at Brontothor, it returns to 1973 a short distance down the hill from the house. And Saunders says, "'...I must be a little early.'" - echoing the title of another Anderson time travel story. (p. 240)

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