Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Recurrent Issues

Despite a recent post entitled "The Long Way Home: Conclusion," I find that I am still responding to this very rich novel by Poul Anderson. Having reread the novel to its conclusion, I understand why correspondent Sean Brooks regards it as an early approach to issues later addressed in Anderson's Harvest Of Stars.

One passage is similar to Isaac Asimov's The Caves Of Steel. The city Lora is "...a single integrated unit..." (The Long Way Home, St Albans, Herts, 1975, p. 61), all buildings connected and lower levels roofed over. Two thousand feet below the high towers and moving bridgeways of the Ministerial level, Commoners inhabit sunless, skyless metal corridors lacking slideways.

(Differences from The Caves Of Steel: all inhabitants of Asimov's Cities live entirely enclosed from birth to death, travel on moving "strips" and would experience agoraphobia if transported to the open countryside of robotic farms.)

Anderson conveys the confusion of an Asian city in Lora's lower levels:

air is fresh but pumping sounds are constant;
naked children run through the crowd;
booths sell cheap pottery and jewelry;
a porter carries machine parts;
two men play dice in the middle of the traffic;
there is a tavern and a sprawling drunk;
members of rival, uniformed guilds fight with their fists;
a streetwalker approaches a laborer;
a Ganymedean merchant talks to a local buyer;
servants clear a way for a rich man riding a small vehicle;
an apprentice carries a tool box behind his master;
a masked, knife-bearing assassins' guild member (!) passes;
a vendor pushing a food cart cries his wares.

But why must the Commoners spend their lives here? That question is discussed later in the novel.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    Thanks for the nice mention of me! And, actually, what you saw as "confusion" at the lower levels of Lora looked a lot more like VIGOROUS life to me.

    Also, I was interested to see Anderson, unlike so many other SF writers, taking religion seriously in this as in others of his works. In THE LONG WAY HOME we see God still being worshiped as "Father."


  2. Anderson writes, "The disorderly mass reminded him of cities he had seen in Asia." (p. 63)

    I think that covers both confusion and vigor!

    1. Hi, Paul!

      Yes, I see what you mean. Altho I had more in mind the description we see of the Old Quarter section of Olga's Landing in the first chapter of THE GAME OF EMPIRE. Guess I need to reread THE LONG WAY HOME again after I finish a couple of other books!


  3. Sean,
    My first mental draft for this post included some such word as "vibrancy" instead of "confusion" but I decided to be a bit more restrained!