Monday, 24 March 2014

Historical And Science Fiction

"She was as startled and amused to hear of race riots as he had once been to learn of blood spilled by early Christians over the iota distinguishing homoousian from homoiousian."
- Poul Anderson, "Welcome" IN Anderson, Past Times (New York, 1984), pp. 58-70 AT p. 63.

Amused? About riots and bloodshed?

"...she..." is a citizen of the world in 2497 whereas "...he..." has just arrived from 1997.

"Homoousian" must be Greek to a lot of sf fans! My upbringing gave me some inkling and, of course, it is now an easy matter to google. Poul Anderson, while writing a work of futuristic hard sf, was able to insert a reference for example to the Roman general Marius or to the Greek theology of "same" or "similar" substance(s) within the Trinity.

Thus, we are instantly reminded that this same author also wrote historical novels set in the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. For some writers and readers, sf was a literary ghetto but not for Anderson. His canon encompasses and sometimes synthesizes several genres as I have remarked before.

"Homoousian" could not possibly be further away from the theme of "Welcome" but, while our hero encounters a culture five hundred years later than his, it is good to be reminded of another culture fifteen hundred years earlier. Humanity through the ages is one.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

And, of course, to orthodox Catholics, whether one is "homoousian" or believes in "homoiousian" theology is still very important.