Thursday, 20 August 2015

An Eerie And Chilling Text

Poul and Karen Anderson's Gratillonius and Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry defend civilization because it enables populations and generations to live in peace. Anderson's Nicholas van Rijn defends civilization because it is profitable but also shows that he wants peace not only because it is profitable. He has a conscience as well as a profit motive.

However, there are antithetical reasons to value an ordered society. In SM Stirling's Marching Through Georgia (New York, 1991), the American journalist, William Dreiser, refers to:

"...the eerie and chilling Meditations of Elvira Naldorssen." (p. 64)

Later, we are able to judge for ourselves because p. 230 comprises a three paragraph quotation from Meditations: Colder than the Moon by Evira Naldorssen. (I do not yet know which is the correct spelling of Naldorssen's first name.)

Having promised us an eerie and chilling text, Stirling delivers. The Draka do not violate the Golden Rule or utilitarianism. They reject them. They conquer to conquer and dominate in order to dominate. "The purpose of Power is Power." (p. 230)

(James Blish once said that sf has to be about something and that 1984 worked because it was about the proposition that the purpose of power is power.)

"...power is the ability to compel others to do your will, against theirs. It is end, not means." (ibid.)

I most disrespectfully disagree. Naldorssen goes on to present a chilling vision of "...the Final Society, a new humanity without weakness or mercy, hard and pure." (ibid.)

An inhumanity.... Remembering Count Ignatieff, we must commend Stirling for creating villains who are not just our heroes' honorable enemies but thoroughly evil.

What does Naldorssen need? An extended period in a society where every new acquaintance treats her as an equal and a friend, where no one imposes their will on her and where she has no means of imposing her will on anyone else. After a while, she would either be unexpectedly happy or deeply depressed. If the latter, then all we would be able to offer her would be an island hermitage!

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I agree with your comments about how Stirling created thoroughly nasty villains. And villains who were not cardboard cliches. Your mention of Count Ignatieff reminded me of how Yasmin described him, horrifyingly, as a man of great faith and piety. Alas, the god he worshiped was Satan and evil was "good". It brings up the obvious point, the count might very well have been a VERY good man if he had been a Christian.

    But even normal enemies can be bad (even if many are, themselves, reasonably decent as persons). The Terran Empire and people like Dominic Flandry, for all their faults, are still better than the militant racism of the Merseian Roidhunate.

    Sean

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