Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Peshawar Lancers: First Impressions

I have just collected my copy of SM Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers from Waterstones Bookshop, King St, Lancaster. What do we notice about a book before we start to read it?

(i) An evocative cover with a British military theme suggesting a personal or at least sexual relationship and an airship visible through the window.

(ii) ...Lancers is copyright 2002. The twenty first century is no longer the future. (Of course it isn't but this has a particular resonance in science fiction.)

(iii) The dedication is In Memoriam: Poul Anderson 1926-2001. (Contemplate world events and changes in that three quarters of a century.)

(iv) Acknowledgements for inspiration start with Kipling.

(iv) The novel quotes from The Golden Road and Hassan by James Elroy Flecker. (I got interested in Flecker anyway. Then quotations from Flecker were one of the parallels that I found between Poul Anderson and Neil Gaiman. Further, both Anderson and Gaiman quote from The Golden Road.)

(v) The novel concludes with five Appendices of background information and a list of King-Emperors. Victoria I's reign ends earlier than in our timeline. Elizabeth II's dates, 1989-2005, differentiate her from our current Queen.

(vi) The book contains no maps of the altered world but these are to be found on the Internet.

(vii) So far, then, quite fascinating.

Meanwhile, I am still carefully rereading Anderson's Fire Time. That novel remains on the blogging agenda to which ...Lancers has now been added.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I'm going to be very interested in your comments about S.M. Stirling's THE PESHAWAR LANCERS. And, since Stirling dedicated this book to the memory of Poul Anderson (something I had forgotten), maybe there will be Andersonian allusions that careful readers will realize came from his works. To say nothing, of course, of Rudyard Kipling's influence!

Needless to say, THE PESHAWAR LANCERS will be very different in any number of ways from the works of Anderson and Kipling. Which is exactly as it should be.


Paul Shackley said...

I have just completed the 85th post for this month and might try to desist until the beginning of next month. I must read some Latin and also think about some other correspondence!
THE PESHAWAR LANCERS is a very rich text. So far, I have posted four times and have read only pp. 1-3.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

One way of "postponing" further notes on ths blog till Sunday or Monday is that it gives you time to ponder, enlarge, or revise your next note.

S.M. Stirling tends to prever writing in series (e.g., the Draka books, the Change/Emberverse works, the Shadowspawn, etc.), but he can write stand alone works such as CONQUISTADOR, etc. Amd think one reason for finding Stirling's PESHAWAR a rich text. besides his own abilities, was due to the influence of Poul Anderson.

You already know this, but if Stirling has any weaknesses as a writer, it's his tendency to explain TOO much, here and there in his books. Iow, he doesn't quite handle "infodumps" as compactly and efficiently as Poul Anderson did. Mind you, these infodumps were still interesting to read, but not quite necessary for the story.