Saturday, 10 August 2013

FLAG III

(Going For Infinity is coming from the US.)

I am enjoying the experience of reading a Poul Anderson novel for the first time, especially since this is the last time that I ever will. I have read as far as p. 200, of 300, in For Love And Glory (New York, 2003) so I cannot yet comment on the book as a whole.

So far, and this could change, the novel has confounded any expectations:

the guy who we thought would be the villain becomes instead a sympathetic character (in this respect, although not in any other, he resembles Mr D'Arcy of Pride And Prejudice);
neither the Gargantuan who resembles a Wodenite nor the issue of the Forerunners remained on-stage for very long;
the collision between two massive black holes has come and gone without as yet any dramatic cosmic repercussions (there was a description of the explosion but the main narrative emphasis was on its consequences for the characters);
the heroine and the guy who is not the villain are back together looking for a lost friend down on a planetary surface;
there have been hints of human-AI interaction on Earth but no details as yet;
there are interstellar, inter-species politics but no wars or imperialism;
in fact, life seems to be quite relaxed in accordance with the extended lifespans of the human characters - every time they rejuvenate to the physical age of twenty, they begin a new "cycle";
there has been a threatened space battle but no hostilities as yet;
no fisticuffs, characters held at gun-point, escaping, being pursued etc.

Christianity survives not as the Jerusalem Catholic Church of Anderson's Technic Civilization History but as Neocatholicism and Josephanism (p. 169).

Comments on the macro-relationships between some future histories might be appropriate:

Isaac Asimov wrote the Robots and Empire future history and created Isaac's Universe;
Poul Anderson incorporated his own two Isaac's Universe stories in changed form into For Love And Glory and wrote, among others, the Technic Civilization future history.

Thus, Robots and Empire, Isaac's Universe, FLAG and the Technic History are four distinct series, of which I can vouch for the quality and readability of the third and fourth. (FLAG is presented as a single novel but nevertheless incorporates two originally separate stories and its narrative structure is episodic.)

7 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Your comments have made me interested in rereading Poul Anderson's FOR LOVE AND GLORY. But I don't think that will be the last Anderson book you have read for the first time. Am I right thinking you have not yet read his three Trygve Yamamura mysteries: PERISH BY THE SWORD, MURDER IN BLACK LETTER, and MURDER BOUND?

    In addition, have u read any of his three non fiction books: THERMONUCLEAR WARFARE, IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS, and THE INFINITE VOYAGE? The last one being a summarizing of astronomy meant for schoolchildren (but adults can still read it!).

    Sean

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  2. Sean,
    Well, non-fiction aren't "novels" but no, I haven't read them or the 3 mysteries yet either so I will have to track them down.
    I should've said FLAG was PA's last sf novel that I'll read.
    Didn't realize that the mysteries were a trilogy/series.
    Paul.

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  3. Hi, Paul!

    Just trying to say I believe Poul Anderson's all too few nonfictional works are very much worth reading. Altho THERMONUCLEAR WARFARE might be some what dated by now.

    I would not call the Trygve Yamamura mysteries a "trilogy." More a series featuring a common character. Considering how the Yamamura books were set in a real world, non fictional setting, they are also of interest in showing how much the California/US of the late 1950s/early 1960s have changed since that time. Poul Anderson wrote short mystery stories, one of which, "The Dead Phone," also features Yamamura.

    DEFINITELY planning on soon rereading FOR LOVE AND GLORY.

    Sean

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  4. Sean,
    You have shown me 6 more volumes to read. One of the collections I have has a couple of mystery stories so I will check whether it includes "The Dead Phone."
    Paul.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      You can find "Dead Phone" (I erred, including "The" in the title) in the anthology called THE UNICORN TRADE. The story was first pub. in the SAINT'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE in 1964. You can find passages in that story showing how the times were already darkening as compared to the more optimistic picture I saw in the Yamamura novels.

      Sean

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  5. I have THE UNICORN TRADE. Meanwhile, I am trying to extract some interesting info from FLAG.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Good! And I look forward to seeing your comments about FOR LOVE AND GLORY. Which I've started rereading, about ten chapters along by now.

      Sean

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