Saturday, 26 September 2015

Some Details... II

"'...to know I'm a murderer, that's like a -, a -' Groping, he seized on an archaic symbol. '- a cancer in me.'" (Harvest The Fire, p. 138)

Cancer as an archaic symbol!

Nicol and Falaire lie on a bed in a spaceship cabin surrounded by:

"The moving, three-dimensional illusion of a forest..." (p. 137)

- with night sky, warm breeze, sounds of leaves and spice-like odors. They are used to such illusions and able to relax with them.

In a dreambox, Nicol sees:

from a point in space where the Sun is only the brightest star but star light is almost twice as bright as the Moon seen from Nauru;
some surface details and lights on Proserpina;
scenes of underground Proserpinan life, where a ceiling simulates a sky;
engineering projects to expand living space and exploit resources;
captains in taverns, returned from the comets;
a duel to the death, in spacesuits with swords...

Anderson intends us to admire the Lunarians but I cannot buy into everything that they do.

17 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Lunarians strike you as too wild, anarchical, individualistic?

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Well, a duel to the death is a bit much.
They all seem to like being either lords or faithful retainers so I can't really criticize their archaic social structure.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But there have been plenty of duels to the death in real life and history. So that by, itself, did not seem implausible to me.

And is any social structure "archaic" if it WORKS? If the people living in it are satisfied with it? If they consider it, to use an important term from Poul Anderson's thought, LEGITIMATE?

NOT that all socio/political structures or regimes will be truly acceptable or legitimate. The monstrous, if grimly fascinating regime of the Draka comes to mind!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Not implausible, just unadmirable.
The Lunarians are a different species so their hierarchical society works for them even though it seems archaic to me.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Here, I have to disagree. ALL human societies are hierarchical to some degree or other. Some are simply more open or "elaborate" about it. What matters, to me, is whether a particular "hierarchy" is accepted by its people as legitimate.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Terminological, I think. I agree that all societies have leaders but not necessarily rulers which is what "-archy" means.
Paul.

ndrosen said...

Does Anderson intend us to admire the Lunarians? They have their charms, but they can be irresponsible and sometimes murderous; they don't seem to be big on universal ethics or abstract loyalties. Like the elves of PA's fantasies, they may add something to the universe, but they're not comfortable to have as neighbors.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Paul Shackley said...

Nicholas,
You are right to ask this. I thought we were meant to find them admirable but, of course, I am interpreting the author's intentions and might be mistaken.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Gentlemen:

First: Paul, I still have to disagree. We agree all societies have leaders. But you then said not necessarily "rulers." I ask, what real DIFFERENCE is there between the two words? I say little or none. Certainly none in PRACTICAL terms.

Second: Nicholas, and here you raised a very good point! John Wright, another SF author and fan of Poul Anderson, was very enthusiastic about the HARVEST OF STARS books. He too, like you, thought the Lunarians to be very much like elves. In some ways like the amoral or capricious elves we see in Anderson's THE BROKEN SWORD or THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS. But, ultimately, I don't think we can call the Lunarians irresponsible. Not on matters which are truly important.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
A very big difference. A group of hunters or brigands follows the lead of an individual if his ideas work but not otherwise. He has no way to enforce them.
Moral leaders: a group witnesses an act of cruelty but hesitates to intervene. One man steps forward. A few follow him. More follow the few. The rest follow the more. One man gave a lead but took a risk and might have been on his own. He had no way to make anyone follow him, still less to order others forward while he stayed behind.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree with the examples you gave, as described in the hypotheticals you outlined. But, I was thinking more in terms of how power is used and transmitted in old, settled, societies. And the different ways such societies will believe such power to be rightly or legitimately transmitted or used.

I hope this is not too vague! Legitimacy, after all, has taken many different forms.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Yes, on the on hand, there are many examples of de facto social and moral leadership. On the other hand, society has got so complicated that it also has de jure governments. I think that in future we will dispense with the latter but keep the former.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Of course I agree that there are "moral leaders," persons who, by sheer force of personality and ability, command respect by others. Examples being respected and well liked clergy, both Catholic and Protestant. Sister Marya, in UNDER THE YOKE, is one such moral leader, whether or not acknowledged as such by the Draka

And I'm totally skeptical about the state "withering away" at any time in the future. What are the two prime functions of the state, any state? To keep internal peace and to defend against outside enemies. Human nature being as corrupt and flawed as it is, I don't see an end to things like crime or rivalry with other nations any time soon.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
And I think that human beings are improvable! - also that change alternates between gradual and sudden. Thus, more can happen in our lifetimes than we expect although we soon take the new status quo for granted. We now live in a world without Apartheid or a Berlin Wall. Many would have denied that those could be removed so soon.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, the unlamented USSR, etc., has fallen. BUT, other evils such as a resurgence in Muslim jihadist fanaticism has reappeared. And the all too weak and ineffectual response to Islamic fanaticism does not bode well for the future.

Human beings are improvable? Yes, IF assisted by divine grace.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
God will help us an' it please him. The Word enlightens everyone...
I agree that the states known to us will never wither away. They will fight for their existence even at the expense of the planet under our feet.
I will begin drafting some commentary on UNDER THE YOKE.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The state will never wither away--short of the Second Coming of Christ--because we NEED the state. I argue that the state, whatever form it takes, needs to be LEGITIMATE and to have strict limits on its powers.

And I look forward to your forthcoming commentary about Stirling's UNDER THE YOKE and its possible connections or analogies to any of the works of Poul Anderson.

Sean