Saturday, 12 July 2014

Multiverse: The Lingering Joy

Stephen Baxter, "The Lingering Joy" IN Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois, Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014), pp. 133-148.

In Stephen Baxter's sequel to "The Long Remembering," as in Harry Turtledove's sequel to Three Hearts And Three Lions and in Terry Brooks' sequel to "The Queen of Air and Darkness," a generation has passed. In "The Lingering Joy," the daughter of Anderson's protagonist mentally travels to the period of the gradual extinction of the "goblins"/Neanderthals. The story raises theological issues familiar from other Anderson works. A seminarian seeking meaning, our heroine sees a Neanderthal male child in a crib below a supernova.

In the heroine's home period, Baxter introduces events that, initially, seem like intrusions. An alien "Artefact" has been found in Clavius on the Moon. 2001? But a space battle is being fought for possession of the Artefact and, by the end of the story, the space war is moving closer to Earth. Suddenly, this might explain why temporal psycho-displacement has been possible along the world-lines of ancestors but not of any descendants.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Truth to say, I found "The Lingering Joy" one of the less convincing stories in MULTIVERSE. One glaring point being the "aggressive" role taken by the female lead character back in the ancient past. I thought it unconvincing to show an early modern hominid woman taking on the big game hunting role universally limited to men, as far as we know, in the ancient past. For eminently sound and sensible reasons of greater phyical srength and stamina, recall!

    Sean

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    1. No doubt men did most of the big game hunting, but that doesn't prove that no women ever did any. A woman at one end of the bell curve for physical strength and stamina may be stronger than many men. Sisilagaita, the second wife of the Norman warlord Robert Guiscard, bore arms and fought beside him. I recall reading about a Mongol princess, a daughter or granddaughter of Kubilai Khan IIRC, who hustled hundreds of horses from would-be suitors whom she defeated at jousting.

      Valari may be an exceptionally athletic woman, and we should keep in mind that she is not pregnant, nursing, or burdened with small children. Might she perhaps be a lesbian, or does she just dislike the thoroughly dislikable Kugul?


      Best Regards,
      Nicholas D. Rosen

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  2. Sean,
    I think that pregnant or breast-feeding women could not easily creep or run after meat animals so women gathered, providing the "daily bread" of fruit and nuts, while men hunted, providing the rarer luxury of meat, except when maybe a whole tribe cooperated for example to drive a mammoth off a cliff.
    Paul.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Exactly, I've read of just that in the "Beringia" section of THE SHEILD OF TIME, where the MALE hunters of the Cloud People tribe of paleo-Indians drove a mammoth into swampy ground where it would get mired and the hunters would kill it at leisure. Then the women of the tribe would come to help in butchering and processing the mammoth.

      But it still remained true that tasks requiring strength and stamina were left to men, such as hunting; and later, farming, mining, metal working, war, etc.

      Btw, I'm almost done rereading THE SHIELD OF TIME. Next I want to read Michael A.G. Michaud's MAKING CONTACT WITH ALIEN CIVILIZATIONS (2010). It belongs to that branch of speculation Poul Anderson also pioneered in with his book IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS? (1964). It'll be interesting to see what difference nearly half a century has made in speculations whether intelligent life exists on other planets.

      Sean

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