Thursday, 19 September 2013

An Astronaut Returns

An astronaut returns to Earth centuries or millennia after his departure. Everyone he knew is dead. Suddenly he sees, or catches a glimpse of, a woman who closely resembles his former wife or fiancee. Can she possibly have survived unchanged? But, if so, how? And, if not, then what is the explanation?

I have encountered this intriguing idea twice: in a Buck Rogers TV episode and in Poul Anderson's The Long Way Home. In both of these cases, a woman's appearance had been changed for our hero's benefit. However, there is potentially a different story here - a long search for the mysterious, occasionally glimpsed, woman, ending with either an enlightening explanation or an extended enigma. I cannot tell this story but someone else would be able to.

Meanwhile, in the last forty eight hours, I have attended a picket line, a Hindu Temple and a funeral and have responded to correspondence concerning the commencement of my state pension, so there is plenty of life, change and death still in the real world outside the pages of science fiction novels. I have also realized that I missed a point in my most recent critique of the society described in The Long Way Home - this is the sort of point that I hope that page viewers will be able to spot for me - so I must soon return yet again to that novel before starting to comment on The Byworlder.

Fair winds forever!

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I think Poul Anderson's "Goat Song" also touches on the idea you mentioned, of a man seeking his lost wife or fiancee. It is, in fact, an SF version of the Orpheus legend.