Monday, 30 March 2015

"Beyond The Fields We Know"

A key theme of this blog is that Poul Anderson's works are comparable to those of many better known authors of both fantasy and sf. I need not list the names yet again.

However, I have also acknowledged the limits of my own knowledge. In particular, I have not kept up with more recent sf. Consequently, I am grateful to the correspondent who advised me to check out the works of SM Stirling, whom I now regard as a worthy successor of Anderson.

In fantasy, comparisons can probably be made with Terry Pratchett except that I have never got into Discworld so let me now invite comments and contributions from any page viewers who are fans of that humorous fantasy series. I can think of two probable points of contact:

Anderson describes many real or imaginary cities (Ys, York, Amsterdam, Archopolis, Ardaig, Starfall etc) - Pratchett presents Ankh-Morpork (see image);

Anderson's Cappen Varra stories are humorous fantasies and part of the shared "Thieves' World" series.

These observations have been prompted by someone remarking on facebook that Ankh-Morpork is partly based on the City District of Lancaster and Morecambe (L-ANC-aster and MOR-ecambe) where I live. Pratchett indeed had local connections and there are reasons why, e.g., "the Unseen University" might be an appropriate ironic description of Lancaster University. Also, that does look like our River Lune on the map.

Last post for March, folks. Round numbers and all that.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Again, thanks for the nice mentioning or allusion to me! I'm very glad my suggestion about looking up the works of S.M. Stirling came out so well.

Alas, I'm unable to comment about the works of the late Sir Terence Pratchett, not having read his books. My loss, I'm sure!

It's interesting to note that UK writers of SF and F seem have been getting official honors from the British gov't, starting with J.R.R. Tolkien. And Arthur C. Clarke was also awarded a knighthood by the Queen.


Ketlan said...

I think the story of Ankh-Morpork being loosely based on Lancaster and Morecambe was probably sparked by a former local bookshop owner who had Pratchett at his shop for a couple of book signings some twenty-five to thirty years ago. This would be just the kind of cynically-contrived and mythical link that I would expect this particular shop owner to invent, frankly.

I'm sure I've read that A-M is a generic English city, most likely London, based in any time from the early 17th century (Shakespeare/Marlowe) to the late 19th century - say, Whitechapel in the 1880's (Jack the Ripper). The former is indirectly referenced in the books with a proliferation of theatrical groups and playwrights, the latter with characters clearly meant to represent the Peelers and the less-organised groups that existed prior to them, and Jack himself.

Ketlan said...

@ Sean

If you've any intention of reading Pratchett's books, I'd highly recommend reading the Guards series first, followed by the Witches and the Tiffany Aching books. Personally, I found the Rincewind books a terrible turn-off.

There's a lot to read in Pratchett. Like Gaiman, there are literary and classical references all over the place, many of which are obscure but worth tracking. Pratchett books are funny and thought-provoking - a combination which I've found impossible to find elsewhere.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Ketlan!

Thanks for your suggestions. What you said reminded me of Avram Davidson. He too liked to include literary and historical allusions and references into his works. Such as his Vergil Magus and Peregrine stories.

And I like the idea of some SF being funny! We don't always have to be grimly serious all the time.


Paul Shackley said...

That bookseller may be reading this blog although he has not commented on it as yet.

Ketlan said...

'And I like the idea of some SF being funny! We don't always have to be grimly serious all the time.'

Absolutely not.

'That bookseller may be reading this blog although he has not commented on it as yet.'

Good. I'd welcome his comments.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Ketlan!

And Poul Anderson also tried his hand at writing funny SF. Examples being "A Bicycle Built for Brew" and the Hoka stories he co-authored with Gordon R. Dickson. To say nothing of the funny SF written independently by Dickson.


David Birr said...

It's a bit late to be adding this, but Pterry himself, in his commentary for *The Art of Discworld*, said,

"I had no particular city in mind when I designed Ankh-Morpork.... But ... if you could splice together the great trading city of Tallinn with large parts of central Prague.... Mind you, for the perfect Ankh-Morpork cocktail you'd have to find a way of distilling into the mix something from eighteenth-century London, nineteenth-century Seattle, and twentieth--century New York..."

I **LOVE** Pratchett's work. Calling it both funny and thought-provoking MIGHT be an understatement. When Ridcully said, "Ye gods, I've never felt so CLEAN," I laughed so hard I nearly fell off the bed I was lying on. But I'd be concerned about the lack of empathy shown by anyone who WASN'T stirred by the sentence (when in proper context), "Words In The Heart Can Not Be Taken."

"Here, in this cave at the end of the world, peace is made between dwarf and troll, and we will march beyond the hand of Death together. For the enemy is not Troll, nor is it Dwarf, but it is the baleful, the malign, the cowardly, the vessels of hatred, those who do a bad thing and call it good. Those we fought today, but the willful fool is eternal and will say this is a trick, and so we implore: come to the caves under this valley, where you will find us sharing the peace that cannot be broken."