Sunday, 5 July 2015

Warm And Cold

Although I have not yet finished reading SM Stirling's Conquistador, I am now able to compare four fictional worlds created by Stirling: the Angrezi Raj and the Commonwealth of New Virginia, both set on (different versions of) Earth, retro-Venus and retro-Mars.

The first three are warm and sympathetic whereas the fourth is cold and unempathetic. One Martian expresses himself thus:

"'We might already be reveling in our seizure of a valuable ship and cargo, celebrating by absorbing costly essences and engaging in brutally non-consensual erotic entertainments of a type that I find deeply gratifying but which are difficult to arrange on a commercial basis. Why this delay?'"
-SM Stirling, In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings (New York, 2008), p. 86.

Which is worse, the sentiment expressed or the clinical dispassion with which it is expressed? Unfortunately, I know that some readers would be amused by this passage but I must beg to differ from them. Of course, I know that the author does not approve of these characters but nevertheless I find them rather unpleasant to read about.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Alas, I have to admit I found the frank declaration of his depraved and thuggish desires by the pirate captain you quoted from IN THE COURTS OF THE CRIMSON KINGS to be amusing. It's only fair to point out that the Martian agent acting for a more powerful Martian expressed distaste for such depraved behavior, albeit in terms equally cold and umempathetic.

I do see your point in not quite liking IN THE COURTS OF THE CRIMSON KINGS, because of finding so many of the Martian characters in it far too cold, clinical, detached, umempathetic, austere, astringent, etc. One reason why I liked the book was precisely Stiring was able to CONVINCINGLY depict these Martians as real people and as hominids plainly coming from the same stock as the hominids of Earth.