Tuesday, 20 August 2013
The House Of Sorrows
In some earlier posts, I drew attention to this conceptual sequence in a few of Anderson's stories:
"The House of Sorrows," an alternative history;
"Eutopia," travel between alternative histories;
"House Rule" and "Losers' Night," an inter-cosmic inn visited by travelers from various alternative histories.
I have suggested, and still think, that these four stories should be collected as The Old Phoenix And Other Universes, to be published in uniform editions with the four novels about inter-cosmic travel, one of which also features the Old Phoenix.
The two stories about Cappen Varra and a third that refers to Varra are also set in a parallel universe and one of the Varra stories even involves travel between universes. However, these works differ in tone, merely showing a universe where magic works but not specifying precisely how or when that world's history diverged from ours. So I think that these three stories should be collected elsewhere.
In our history, Mithraism lost out to Christianity because the Mystery of Mithras was open to men only. Thus, Mithraists' wives converted to Christianity and had all their children, both male and female, baptized. I have thought that Mithraists could have counteracted this by linking with a women only Goddess Mystery and this has happened in "The House of Sorrows," where a Mithraeum and a Shrine of the Mother are side by side.
The narrator is a Mithraist like the Andersons' King of Ys and is guided through a strange city by an urchin, called Herod (!), similar in this respect to the character called Pum who guides Manse Everard of the Time Patrol through ancient Tyre. We see alternative forms of religion like a Mithraeum where "...Odin and Thor flank the altars of the Tauroctony..." (p. 76). Mithras recognizes lesser gods so the Aesir could have been incorporated in an alternative history.