Friday, 11 July 2014

Multiverse: The Man Who Came Late

Harry Turtledove, "The Man Who Came Late" IN Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois, Editors, Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds (Burton, MI, 2014), pp. 37-60.

OK. There is an Old Phoenix story in this anthology but the tavern is seen only from the outside, and it provides the story's resolution.

"The Man Who Came Early" by Poul Anderson is a stand alone short story about a twentieth century man who travels to, and dies in, the Viking period. "The Man Who Came Late" by Harry Turtledove is a sequel to Poul Anderson's novel, Three Hearts And Three Lions. At the end of that novel, Holger Danske leaves the world in which he has met Alianora. In Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, Danske is in the inter-universal Old Phoenix, trying to find his way back to that world. In "The Man Who Came Late," Danske returns after thirty years to find that Alianora is married with three grown up children.

How will this situation be resolved? Will Alianora leave with Holger? No. Will Holger instead leave with Alianora's daughter who resembles her as she was? No. The Old Phoenix appears and Holger enters it alone, although Morgan le Fay, unaged, has been glimpsed through its open door.

I have suggested before that a collection with the proposed title of The Old Phoenix And Other Universes could comprise a couple of alternative universe short stories followed by Anderson's two Old Phoenix stories. This sequel by Turtledove would make an appropriate conclusion to such a volume.

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