Monday, 26 August 2013

The Word To Space

The view point character of Poul Anderson's "The Word to Space" (The Gods Laughed, New York, 1982) is:

called Father James Moriarty SJ;
"...tall and stooped and prematurely balding..." (p. 272);
descended from the author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid;
does not care to be reminded of that ancestor.


Holmes and Watson appear in "Time Patrol";
Holmes' alter ego, Altman, is mentioned in The Shield Of Time;
a descendant of Holmes who follows his profession features in "The Queen of Air and Darkness";
a descendant of Moriarty, having inherited both his first name and his physical appearance, features in "The Word to Space."

Moriarty SJ answers a question asked by Fr Axor of the Galilean Order in The Game Of Empire:

"'The Vatican decided...that the mission of Our Lord was to Earth only, to the human race.'" (pp. 285-286)

On this basis, Axor, a Wodenite, would not have been baptized or ordained but would have been advised that "'...God will have made his own provision for [Woden].'" (p. 286) Thus also, Moriarty does not want to convert the Akronites, twenty five light years away, who have been contacted by Project Ozma but does want to free them from their oppressive theocracy.

Moriarty mentions one of the stunts used to maintain Ozma's funding:

"' director retired and a Negro was appointed in his place. Ergo, no one dared vote against Ozma for fear of being called prejudiced.'" (p. 284)

No one? I have criticized black colleagues without being accused of prejudice. To continue funding a project only because its director was black would be an appalling inversion. This story was published in 1960. Hopefully there is now a better understanding of race relations and equal opportunities?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Hmmm, no one would dare vote to defund a project because it's director was black? I assure you, politicians CAN be that cowardly, afraid to vote against a project because doing so might make them look bigoted.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

My previous note was too brief. I should have added how having a descendant of Sherlock Holmes arch enemy as the viewpoint character was very amusing and interesting. And Fr. Moriarty's comment about "The Vatican...decided that the mission of Our Lord was to Earth only, to the human race;" shows Poul Anderson taking a look at the idea Christianity was meant only for humans. And that God would make provisions for the salvation of other races which had fallen. Whereas, in the Technic History, we see the Church deciding non humans could also become Christians.


ndrosen said...

Did other people notice that the Akronite scripture quoted is from the books of Chubu and Sheemish? Chubu and Sheemish are minor gods in a story by Lord Dunsany.

Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Nicholas!

No, I hadn't noticed or thought of that, regarding fictional gods created by Lord Dunsany. Alas, I've read shamefully little by Dunsany: a few short stories and one novel. But it seems plain Poul Anderson WAS a much more thorough reader of Dunsany than I am.


Paul Shackley said...

No, I did not notice that!
Thank you,