Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Kyrie

The most interesting feature, to me, of Poul Anderson's "Kyrie" (Going For Infinity, New York, 2002) is the Aurigean, Lucifer, who sounds exactly like the "Angels," one of them also called Lucifer, in James Blish's The Star Dwellers and Mission To The Heart Stars.

Blish's Angels are described as, or at least compared to, intelligent ball lightning. Anderson suggests that planetary ball lightning might be related to the Aurigeans in the same way that simple organic compounds in a primordial ocean are related to later evolved life. In the gas and energy pervading the multiple star Epsilon Aurigae, magnetohydrodynamics evolved as chemistry did on Earth. Ions, nuclei and force fields formed stable plasma vortices which grew, became complex, metabolized electrons, nucleons and X rays, maintained themselves, reproduced and thought. The description of Lucifer as a multi-colored, twenty-meter-wide, space-faring fireball makes him sound exactly like one of Blish's star-dwelling Angels.

The Angels communicate with each other instantaneously across interstellar and intergalactic distances. Anderson's Lucifer communicates instantaneously, and telepathically, with a human telepath across an interstellar distance. In itself, Anderson's use of the word "telepathy" could be merely a terminological difference. The Angels' means of instantaneous communication is internal to each of them so maybe it also could be called "telepathy." But the difference is that Lucifer communicates not only with his own kind but also with a human telepath.

The main difference between Lucifer and the Angels is in their origin. The oldest Angels, the First Born, date from the first twenty minutes of the universe and may have participated in the First Cause. Younger Angels were born in the processes that generate stars. Barring unlikely accidents, Angels will survive until the end of the universe. Meanwhile, they have been allied with ten different galactic confederations of planet dwellers and must now choose between Malans and Terrestrials in the Milky Way. They operate on a vaster scale than the Aurigeans who originated in a single stellar system and cooperate with humanity.

"Kyrie" presupposes Aurigeans, human telepaths, faster than light interstellar travel and instantaneous telepathy merely so that it can combine these ideas with one consequence of time dilation. Lucifer died falling into a supernova remnant but the nun who had been telepathically linked to him still hears him...

I am not sure that this conclusion warrants the presuppositions that were necessary to make it possible.

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