Thursday, 30 April 2015

Section 3 Revisited

(Queen Anne Hill, Seattle, with views of the Space Needle and the sea.)

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

For Hanno, "'...cigarettes are faute de mieux.'" (p. 378) I had not known what that meant.

Giannotti thinks that, if Hanno goes public as an immortal:

discovering the secret of immortality will become everyone's top priority;
since knowing that it is possible is half the battle, it might be solved quite soon;
meanwhile, the prospect will discourage "'...war, arms race, terrorism, despotism...'" (p. 382).

Hanno rightly replies that it would cause chaos. As Arthur Clarke one said, "If we abolish death, we will have to abolish birth." One Torchwood series had the excellent premise that, for a while, everyone stopped dying, even an electrocuted child rapist and murderer. Governments had to start rounding up all the people who should have died...

If Hanno were outed as an immortal, then he would destroy the evidence that he had shown Giannotti while he and his three colleagues would go to ground.

120 posts and the last day of the month so no more posts until tomorrow at the earliest although I might find time to read comments.

Starting Section 4

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Mr and Mrs Tu become tenants of Tomek Enterprises in the Lost River country, Idaho. Again, I had not known that there was such a country and had never queried this curious phrase on any previous reading of Boat. Leave no stone unturned, or in this case leave no strange phrase uninvestigated, because something interesting is to be found under each of them.

This section is just over six pages in length and, after that, there are 208 more pages of the novel, including the whole of the concluding Chapter XIX, Thule. I have met two readers who disliked Chapter XIX and thought that it was discordant with the earlier chapters. I completely disagree with them. As someone else said in an Internet review, it is as if this single long work brings together elements from every previous work by Anderson. Interstellar exploration in a high tech future was a welcome surprise in the concluding chapter. Seaman Hanno becomes spaceman Hanno. He had thought in section 3:

"Gods damn it, he was a seaman, he wanted a deck again under his feet." (p. 375)

What better way to do that - thus leaving far behind the office-based life that had been forced on him in the twentieth century?

Section 3, concluded (I think)

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Hanno's identities in 1975:

Charles Tomek, millionaire, old, currently vacationing abroad;

Joseph Levine, 67, attorney for Tomek, with an apartment near Seattle International District, drives a Buick;

Robert Cauldwell, founder of the Rufus Memorial Institute, lives on Queen Anne Hill with views of Mount Rainier (see lower image), the Space Needle and Elliot Bay (see upper image), drives a Mitsubishi;

Tannahill, first name not yet known, editor of The Chart Room, a political periodical;

a dozen others in four countries "...ranging from magazine publisher [Tannahill?] to day laborer..." (p. 375).

Two kinds of identity:

currently active but diversified to avoid unwelcome attention;

paper identities to be used as escape routes when necessary.

Hanno's agent in Frankfurt knows "...that the Rufus Lab wanted to contact members of long-lived families..." (p. 386) so it seems that there is a direct link between the advertized Longevity Studies (p. 370) and the Lab's "...effort to discover what made living beings grow old." (p. 377) Despite his three millennia of caution, Hanno does not keep all of his activities in separate compartments. The Lab's Director is Catholic which fits with the nearby Seattle University being Catholic.

Director Giannoti, who knows of Hanno's longevity, says:

"'...we'll outlive the galaxies, you and I and everybody...'" (p. 381)

I know that this is orthodox doctrine but how can he be so sure of such an unlikely proposition? It is a great deal to deduce from the elusive accounts in the concluding chapters of the Four Gospels.

On television, a politician named Moriarty declaims:

"'This squandering of untold wealth on weapons of mass destruction, while human beings go hungry and homeless, must end...'" (p. 383)

I agree: we should feed and house each other instead of preparing for mass slaughter. However, Hanno groans and swears on hearing Moriarty's voice. Does Hanno think as follows?-

A successful liberal politician must be dishonest because, if he is successful, then he is intelligent, and, if he is intelligent, then he knows that liberal values are falsehoods. However, he propagates those values so he must be dishonest. QED.

I have not placed this argument inside quotation marks because it is not a quotation. Rather, it is my formulation of how I think some people think! I may be wrong. I might have read this argument somewhere but, if so, I will have to track it down. Meanwhile, of course, it is possible for two people to be intelligent yet disagree. Neither of them needs to be dishonest as well.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Section 3 continued

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

The City of Seattle is in the State of Washington. (See previous post. A former teaching colleague of mine suggested this question for a General Studies exam paper: "Difficult things have simple explanations. Discuss." I am used to thinking of Washington just as a City in a District but have also become used to learning by reading Poul Anderson.)

Anderson, through Hanno, refers to seven places in Seattle:

the revolving bar on the Space Needle with its incomparable view of mountain and water;
Emmett Watson's;
the International District;
Green Lake;
the University campus;
a light-industry section between Green Lake and the campus;
in this section, the fictional Rufus Memorial Institute which tried " discover what made living beings grow old..." (p. 377) and which might therefore be organizationally linked to the Longevity Studies mentioned on p. 370.

Hanno's discussion of aging and death with Institute Director Samuel Gianotti recalls similar discussions in James Blish's They Shall Have Stars. Gianotti refers to methyl groups and prokaryotes and says that "'Evolution is cut-and-dry.'" (p.381) Does he mean "...cut-and-try"?

Meanwhile, Wanderer backpacks in the Olympics. I had not known that there was such a mountain range.

Chapter XVIII, Section 3

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

"...Washington had no state income tax yet. That had been one strong reason among many for moving to Seattle." (p. 374)

No state income tax in Washington so move to Seattle? I don't quite follow that one.

(For a few years, the comic book character, Green Arrow, eschewing fictional locations like Metropolis, Gotham City and his own original Star City, lived in Seattle with its distinctive skyline - the Emerald Archer in the Emerald City.)

Hanno, a millionaire in 1975, thinks that he should pay only enough tax for his country's maintenance and defense whereas his fellow immortal, Wanderer, thinks that a government response is necessary to "...human needs, threatened biosphere, scientific mysteries..." (ibid.)

As ever, Anderson shows reasoned disagreements between his characters as well as, usually, making clear which side he favors.

I agree with Wanderer while also thinking that the issue warrants discussion that would be too lengthy for this breakfast post. The wealth-poverty gap is too wide, international cooperation is necessary for scientific research and the threat to life on Earth is urgent. Cinema superheroes regularly avert global threats while we seem to have our own such threat due before the end of this century.

The Boat Of A Million Years, Chapter XVIII

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), Chapter XVIII, "Judgment Day," pp. 363-454.

This chapter, set in 1975, effectively "the present," is considerably longer than any of its predecessors, 92 pages, thus just short of novel length by my 100+ pages rule of thumb. It is divided into 16 numbered sections.

I. Wanderer finds Tu Shan and Asagao in Tibet. They will join Hanno and him in the US. Now, five immortals are accounted for and four are banding together.

2. Aliyat, currently Rosa Donau, is working with Flora who had been Laurace Macandal and is now Corinne, daughter of Laurace. They see an ad for Longevity Studies that we know will have been placed by Hanno and must decide whether and how to respond. Potentially at least, six immortals will come together.

3. Hanno, posing as Mr Levine with power of attorney for the elderly Mr Tomek, wrangles with a tax inspector. I have barely started to read this lengthy section but must now turn in because, after a reasonably active day, I have been to the cinema to see the latest Avengers film.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Knowledge Revisited

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Ten days ago, reflecting on kinds of knowledge, I decided to reread Chapter I of Boat, because this chapter focuses on an ancient search for knowledge, before philosophy and science had been differentiated. Little did I suspect either that rereading this single chapter would lead to a full reread of the novel or that an enormous amount of information remained to be excavated from the text if the reader was prepared to follow up every unfamiliar word and obscure reference.

There has been a second post on "Knowledge" and, more recently, I have been amazed to find that major events during the Battle of Stalingrad are encapsulated in Chapter XVII. The search for knowledge includes not only philosophy and science but also history - but we must read and reread Poul Anderson's works of fiction very closely if we are to benefit from the kinds of knowledge embedded in them.

In The City Of Steel

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), Chapter XVII.

"...we hold fast in the City of Steel." (p. 362)

Stalin, like Superman, was the "Man of Steel." Thus, Stalingrad becomes "...the City of Steel..." (p. 362), an evocative phrase - although I prefer to imagine a city dedicated to Superman. (There is a Tarzana.)

Chapter XVIII features only one immortal who converses with only one other person and does not divulge her immortality to him so how does that immortality impact the narrative? Quite a lot. When Kulikov's surname prompts Katya to mention the Battle of Kulikovo, he comments that that was nearly six hundred years ago and she remembers it - although she does not tell him that. She inwardly recalls centuries of horrific conflicts, then invokes both gods and saints. Some of us would, if we had lived that long.

Chapter I had also featured just a single immortal, Hanno, in conversation with the explorer Pytheas, but, at that early stage, the reader was not yet sure what was going on and was only just beginning to guess at Hanno's longevity. The novel has moved forward through history bringing each of the immortals a very long way from his or her origins.

Judgment Day

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

As Katya returns to the Lazur Chemical Plant (see previous post), she invokes Dazhbog, Perun, St Yuri the dragonslayer and St Alexander Nevsky. We realize, if we had not already, that she is the immortal Svoboda.

On the facing page, we jump from Stalingrad in 1942 to the Himalayas in 1975, where there is:

"...a darkness of deodars and gnarly white fruit trees where langurs scampered." (p. 363)

Wanderer, the Native American immortal, travels by mule to a Himalayan village. We may expect that he seeks two Oriental immortals who are already known to us but, since it is now after 12.30 AM in Britain, I will confirm this some time tomorrow.

Monday, 27 April 2015


Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), Chapter XVII.

In 1942, Katya, a Russian sharpshooter, creeps through the falling snow from the Lazur Chemical Plant between the ice floes of the Volga and the black slopes of Mamaev Hill towards "...Krutoy Gully" (p. 349). This tells us that she is participating in a major historical event, the Battle of Stalingrad - although I did not notice this on previous readings. This time, I started googling place names. Boat has given us three historical figures and now this major event.

Katya enters an abandoned apartment where there is a "...Stakhanovite poster..." (p. 350). (I knew what this meant but I don't expect everyone to.) She and the wounded Private Kulikov whom she helps refer to the Battle of Kulikovo. Katya, who we though not Kulikov realize is an immortal, has become a Kazak/Cossack and was taught by Lieutenant Zaitsev. She is on a special mission based on intelligence received from Pavlov's House.

She has seen "'Free farmers...herded onto kolkhozes like slaves.'" (p. 357) and corpses left by the Green Hats (p. 358). (I am having trouble googling "Green Hats.")

"We have our orders directly from Stalin. Here, at this place he renamed in his own honor, here we stand. We die if need be..." (p. 360)

That tells the alert reader where Katya and Kulikov are.

"Once this Stalingrad was Tsarisyn." (p. 362)

Even more explicit but right at the end of the chapter. Katya returns with the intelligence that:

"'Germans [are] bound for Kratoy Gully.'" (p. 359)

This was an event in the Battle. See here. This is the first time that I have realized how much information there is in this chapter.


Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

"That humidor of yours...'" (p. 335)

A humidor is something to do with cigars but what exactly? I had to google.

"' Anatolia when the Osmanlis overran it...'" (p. 342)

Ottamans yes but I am having trouble with "Osmanlis." (See also here.)

Hanno finds an eternal bureaucrat content to remain such, keeping the records, guarding civilization, moving from city to city, changing his identity, never drawing attention to himself, removing any clue to his longevity, writing letters of recommendation for his future self. Hanno wants to do something with his immortality but the bureaucrat is content just to be immortal like an everlasting light bulb never needing replacement. I suppose that, among all the fictional immortals, there must be one like that.

The novel could have continued indefinitely with the historical exploits of known immortals and the occasional discovery of new immortals but, unfortunately, none of Poul Anderson's works was able to continue forever.

Coming Together

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

In Chapter XV, Coming Together:

Flora finds Aliyat;

Flora describes how she escaped from slavery in Chapter XIII;

Aliyat, first seen in Chapter IV, describes how two male immortals found her in Chapter VII;

the two males were Hanno, first seen in Chapter I, and Rufus, found by Hanno in Chapter III;

Hanno and Rufus encountered Svoboda, later seen in Chapter IX, in Chapter VI and found Wanderer, first seen in Chapter XII, in Chapter XIV.

Thus, six of the eleven immortals have acted or interacted through ten of the nineteen chapters. I have not yet mentioned:

Nornagest or Starkadh, both seen only once in Chapter V;
Tu Shan, first seen in Chapter II;
Asagoa, first seen in Chapter VIII, who finds Tu Shan in Chapter X;
Patulcius, found by Hanno in Chapter XVI.

That completes the list of immortals and also lists sixteen of the nineteen chapters.

Aliyat's " was marcelled midnight..." (p. 317);

"...or visit one of the museums built after the Colombian Exposition..." (p. 321);

"Around the next corner awaited a cabriolet and driver." (p. 323)

Flora, the self-educated former slave now a spiritual leader, lists four kinds of politics:

to gain control
- by voting, like the Republicans or Democrats;
- by violence, like the Communists;
- by persuasion, like the Socialists;

to build a future by coming together under freely accepted leadership.

She says that:

"'Human beings are so made that the few will always rule the many.'" (p. 332)

But freely accepted leadership is not rule. And many more will be able to give a lead when they have not been held down all their lives. We are not yet in the Promised Land but we can see it - and also its opposite, global extinction - on a clear day.

"Rain Roared"

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

"Rain roared." (p. 315)

This blog has sometimes considered Poul Anderson's descriptions of seasons and the weather. "Rain roared" is:

the opening sentence of Chapter XV;
two words - noun and verb, subject and predicate;
two syllables;
alliteration, with not two but three "r"'s;
a simple scene setter;

We soon read that this rain, with thunder and lightning, falls on "...the new Empire State Building..." (p. 315). Thus, we are in New York and in a particular period. The image shows rain in New York. We have been with Manson Everard when he saw lightning from his New York apartment but that was in the timeline guarded by the Time Patrol, not in this timeline affected by the Eight Immortals.

I have mentioned the wrench when starting each new chapter in Boat: new period, new place, often new characters. In this chapter, we must adjust to reading about Mama-Lo Laurace Macandal and Cindy, without yet knowing whether either of them is an already familiar character with a new name. It is good to ease into the chapter by first considering just two words and the weather. For me right now, Mama-Lo will have to wait until tomorrow or maybe the day after since tomorrow should be morning Latin preparation, afternoon a family outing and evening meditation group. Onward, Earthlings!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Moving Forward

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

When is the division between historical and contemporary fiction? Chapters I-XIV of Boat move from 310 BC to 1872 AD. The latter is almost contemporary by comparison. The remaining five chapters are set respectively in:

an unspecified future.

My mother was born in 1918 and died a few years ago. Thus, Chapters XV-XVIII were set in her lifetime whereas only Chapter XVIII was set in mine.

We are moving from historical fiction into contemporary fiction, then into futuristic science fiction. Anderson seems to have incorporated all of his interests into this single novel. The meeting in 998 AD between Nornagest and Starkadh is akin to, and similar in theme to, his historical fantasies. Neither of these legendary heroes survives to meet Hanno etc so it is as if they had existed in a world of their own. Heroes of historical fantasies do not meet heroes of futuristic sf (except in the Old Phoenix). Even that customary separation between characters of different genres is preserved in the pages of this single narrative.

Looking Back

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Despite my uncertainty at the time, "li" (p. 208) (see here) is clearly used in the sense of a unit of distance.

"' river, lake, portage...the great Dnieper and its falls - hardest of the portages...'" (p. 149)

It occurred to me that I had only a vague idea of what was meant by "portage." However, the meaning, "carrying," can be deduced from the word and its context and is confirmed by google.

"Flambeau flare..." (p. 305) - another word that should have been clear but wasn't fully. (GK Chesterton created an excellent criminal mastermind/continuing villain, "Flambeau," who has the added merit that he is converted to the cause of good by his opponent, Father Brown, and becomes the latter's companion/assistant, as if Moriarty became Watson.)

"...a chromolithograph gazed from its frame..." (p. 312)

I had read of lithographs, without a clear understanding of them, but not chromolithographs.

"'I saw the Cherokees at the end of their Trail of Tears...'" (p. 291)

This was obviously a historical reference that it made sense to google.

Surely Hanno, originally from Tyre, would be too dark-skinned to pass as English? (p. 294)

"'...- native church...'" (p. 312) Peregrino, an immortal, says, "'I found a new faith among the Kiowas and I'm bringing it to the Nermernuth. Do you know the peyote cactus? It opens a way, it quiets the heart -'" (p. 292)

Does Peregrino mean "found" or founded"? He refers to the Native American Church. Peregrino, a fictitious character, helps Quanah Parker, a historical figure. In return, "'Quanah's covered for me...'" (p. 313), which explains why Peregrino's immortality never came to light.

Continuing To Learn By Reading A Poul Anderson Novel

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

I am at the half way point of Boat, realizing how much I missed on previous readings. Chapter XIII refers to both "...the Llano Estacado..." (p. 277) and "...the Staked Plains..." (p. 283), which googling reveals to be the same place.

Because Quanah had turned out to be a historical person, I googled the name of his companion, Wahaawmaw, thus confirming that this is indeed a name, although the first two items on the search list were a relevant passage from a few pages further along in this novel.

Hanno negotiates with Quanah while the latter is besieging a white-owned farm. Rufus is unhappy with this situation (good) but partly because he has been infected with white supremacist ideas (bad). Immortality confers no knowledge of ultimate reality. Rufus has converted to a dozen Christian faiths, wanting something to cling to which, as Hanno points out, immortals can never have. Immortality plus insight would confer the Hindu-Buddhist virtue of non-attachment.

Because of his great age, Hanno had:

"'...always taken slavery for granted, and it was a misfortune that could happen to anybody, regardless of race.'" (p. 294)

Certainly regardless of race in the ancient world. Racism of skin color arose with the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Neil Gaiman's immortal Englishman, Hob Gadling, becomes riddled with guilt because he owned slave ships. His twentieth century black girlfriend cannot understand why he keeps apologizing to her.

Hidden Histories

Poul Anderson, The Boat of A Million Years (London, 1991).

"...the remuda amounted to just a pair of ponies each and three pack mules." (p. 279)

"...touch of knees and twitch of hackamore..." (p. 281)

"'The Tejanos stole her...'" (p. 285)

Of course I have heard of "...Texas Rangers..." (p. 286) but never knew any details. (The Lone Ranger has the cleverest origin story for a masked avenger.)

Hanno had told Richlieu that he had been under the patronage of Pharaoh Psammetk and now we learn that he knew Benjamin Franklin. He meets Chief Quanah of the Comanches. I had never realized how much history was in The Boat Of A Million Years.

More Curious Details

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

"...a fire of buffalo chips..." (p. 279) I had not known what this meant until I googled it! The fire is also made of mesquite.

"Every Comanchero was necessarily a crack shot." (ibid.)

- so named because they traded with the Comanches. I had not known that.

We realize that Rufus Bullen is our Rufus because he:

has red hair and a hook instead of a right hand;
his missing teeth are growing back;
he speaks Latin, "'Inutilis est,'" (p. 278) to Tarrant, who must therefore be Hanno.

Their Comanchero guide recognizes a few words from the Catholic Mass but also realizes that this is a different version of the language. These are a few details gleaned from two facing pages before starting the day. Hopefully, there will be more later.

A Few Loose Ends

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

In Chapter XIII, Anderson sympathetically treats yet another religion, in this case Quakerism. Edmonton's Biblical quotations about deliverance of captives are socially and politically relevant and appropriate.

"'...I who have been seeking over all these li, all these years.'" (p. 208)

The Wikipedia article gives several Chinese meanings of "li" but I am not sure which is meant here. The speaker is an immortal who calls herself "Li." We are told that:

"In her pronunciation, it could mean the measure of distance." (p. 205)

"...wondering whether the vaquero had gotten clean away." (p. 275) This one is easily googled.

"...pronghorn, peccary, jackrabbit ran everywhere..." (p. 278) Of course, I have seen rabbits but how does a "jackrabbit" differ? And I had never heard of the other two species, except maybe to guess wrongly that pronghorn were a type of cattle.

" years after Appomattox." (ibid.) I can deduce that Appomattox is a place but what happened there? The Battle of Appomattox Court House was in 1865 so seven years after Appomattox is 1872, which is listed in the Chronology on p. 601 as the year of Chapter XIV. The Civil War is over but the " terror..." (ibid.) (!) is still being quelled.

We soon recognize Jack Tarrant and Rufus Bullen as Hanno and Rufus and deduce that they seek a Native American immortal. Maybe at last the handful of immortals are beginning to come together? When Jack Havig sought fellow time travelers, he went to the presumed day of the Crucifixion but how can immortals find each other in the here and now?

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Drinking Gourd

Poul Anderson, The Boat of A Million Years (London, 1991).

The immortal in Chapter XIII is neither the viewpoint character, Matthew Edmonds, nor any member of his family but Flora, the escaped slave whom they help. Matthew, urging silence on his son William, says that he will tell him about a boy who was called William the Silent. Not knowing this story, I googled and learned that this William the Silent was not only a William of Orange but also the great-grandfather of that William of Orange who became William III of England. (26/4/15: Correction made here. See comments.)

Flora mentions a slave owner's son who "'...done got killed in de waw.'" (p. 272) She cannot mean the Civil War because she is still a slave when she says this. Fortunately, Edmonds asks, "'What war?'" and is told, "'De Rebolution...'" (p. 273) Flora says that she "'...followed de Drinkin' Gourd...'" (ibid.) Again we are grateful that Jane later asks what this means and Edmonds replies that it is the Big Dipper, the only unmistakeable constellation.

As Edmonds drives Flora away from the farm, he sees the Dippers and Polaris "...that guided north toward freedom." (p. 274) This reminds us that, in 310 BC, Hanno had said that there was a star at the north celestial pole in the past and would be again in the future. Immortals know that the heavens change over the centuries.

Down Through The Past To The Present

Here, I quote a page of Poul Anderson's There Will Be Time (New York, 1973) on which the time travelers traverse geological epochs, then stop "...for a last rest in the house of a young farmer..." (p. 158). They began their journey with glaciers, then arrived near the period that we regard as our present.

A similar effect is generated by the first 257 pages of Anderson's The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991). The novel began in 310 BC (not quite as far back) and has progressed through AD 19, 359, 641, 998, 1050, 1072, 1221, 1239, 1570, 1640 and 1710 to Chapter XIII, set in 1855, when newly introduced characters have the kinds of names with which we are familiar like Matthew and Jane Edmonds. We are approaching our "present," in this case 1975, and after that will continue into an indefinite future.

In mainstream fiction, no single character or group of characters would be able to survive through all these periods but both immortals and time travelers can.

Kinds Of Change

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Deathless asking:

"'Who can make a medicine against time?'" (p. 250)

- echoes Carl Farness of the Time Patrol saying that, against time, the gods themselves are powerless.

A Taoist, asked how he would survive under Mao, responded, "Would it not be laughable if a life-long follower of the Lord Lao were to fear change?" However, human beings experience two qualitatively different kinds of change. Taoists like Tu Shan and shamans like Deathless are familiar with the cyclical seasonal change of agricultural societies but not with the linear historical change of urban civilizations. (I suggest elsewhere that Christianity, with its death-and-resurrection presented not as a perennial myth but as an historical event, is at the crossroads between two kinds of time - time being a function of change.)

Deathless says:

"'I have known change. I have felt time rush by like a river in flood...'" (ibid.)

- but this, as he has just indicated, has been the immemorial change of birth and death, not the disruptive change of technological innovation. He stops seeking omens because "'The future has become too strange...'" (p. 253). He has learned that nothing is forever. When his people must or will change their way of life, he walks away to seek renewal or death.


"' have heard about the Pariki and their ways.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), p. 243.

I haven't and am not much wiser after googling.

Tu Shan in Tibet and Deathless in North America are not feared but revered when they survive unaged for centuries but their socio-geographical isolation cannot be preserved indefinitely.

Alert for more unfamiliar words, I find that the hunters bring:

"...hides, heads, haunches, humps, entrails, umbles..." (p. 244)


"'...nor could the dogs draw much on their wretched travois.'" (p. 245)

As the shaman, Deathless opposes new ways like horse-riding although they bring prosperity. His opponent, Running Wolf says:

"'New gods are in the land, fiery from the hands of the Creator...'" (ibid.)

As an innovator, Running Wolf is able to recognize change (new gods) and also the perennial background for change, here personified as "the Creator."

Deathless put tobacco "...into his calumet..." (p. 248)

Culture Shocks

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Here is another word that I simply did not recognize: "...berdache..." (p. 242)

Richelieu was wise when he said that, if the immortals went public, then they would merely exacerbate the already existing social turmoil and rulers would treat them badly. To prevent any disruption whatsoever, the Cardinal does not detain or kill Hanno but does advise him to return to obscurity. Hanno was right to sense that society was changing but wrong to deduce that it would yet be safe to come forward.

It is a wrench to finish one chapter and begin another because every time we must adjust to a different period and milieu. As in the Time Patrol series, each chapter is set in a different time and place but, by contrast with that series, the times must retain unwaveringly chronological order. Having lived at the same time but not in the same place as Christ, Hanno is no better informed than anyone else about Christian origins and cannot go back to find out. Thus, two works, one series and one long novel, span history but in contrary ways both fully explored by Anderson.

Friday, 24 April 2015

"Tarry Till I Come Again"

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Jacques Lacy (really Hanno) tells Cardinal Richelieu about one Seumas Lacy. Because he speaks in the third person about someone with a different first name, I took him to be referring to someone else, maybe an ancestor. However, Jacques then states that Seumas:

"'...took the French form of his Christian name...'" (p. 226)

Of course. "Jacques" and "Seamus" are both "James."

When Hanno/Jacques discloses that he has lived for millennia, Richelieu asks:

"'...Are you the Wandering Jew?'" (p. 227)

He is not.

I know of three other fictional references to the Wandering Jew, one in sf, two in comics.

In Walter M Miller's A Canticle For Leibowitz, the Wandering Jew is Lazarus because "What the Lord raise up, it stay up."

In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Morpheus and an immortal Englishmen, meeting once every century, are mistaken for the Devil and the Wandering Jew.

DC Comics Secret Origins No 10 presented four speculative origins of their fantasy character, the Phantom Stranger (a sort of supernatural Lone Ranger). He was variously the Wandering Jew, a man from a remote past, a man from the end of time or a neutral angel. For a detailed, well illustrated review, see here.

Legend, History And Fiction

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Anderson's fictional immortals interact with legendary and historical figures:

Hanno was Pytheas' navigator;
the legendary Nornagest and Starkadh were immortals;
Hanno tells Richelieu that he met a post-Roman British warlord called Artorius.

In Chapter III, the partnership between Hanno and Rufus begins.
In Chapter V, partnership between Nornagest and Starkadh is impossible because the latter is incapable of cooperation.
In Chapter VI, partnership between Hanno and Svoboda does not begin because they do not recognize each other as immortals.
In Chapter VII, partnership between Hanno and Aliyat is impossible because the latter is incapable of trust.
In Chapter X, the partnership between Asagoa and Tu Shan begins.
Other partnerships will begin in later chapters until the Eight cooperate in the last two chapters, XVIII and XIX.
However, my current rereading has reached only Chapter XI, about Richelieu.

Connections And Corridors

(What is wrong in the blurb reproduced in the image?)

Another connection: Stonehenge is built in The Corridors Of Time and visited in The Boat Of A Million Years. However, Corridors features time travelers waging war throughout history whereas Boat features immortals too few to do the same.

Chapter VIII of Boat introduces yet another immortal as she becomes a Buddhist nun and permanent pilgrim whereas Chapter IX reintroduces Svoboda as she ceases to be a Christian nun and convent-dweller!

Over the centuries, Aliyat has spent time in a harem, then in a brothel, whereas Svoboda has been in a convent - three ways for women to survive. They will live into a future when such means are no longer necessary.

Svoboda sees St Sophia in Kiev:

"...rising white and pale green in walls and bays, arched doorways and high glass windows, up and up to, yes, ten domes in all, six bearing crosses and four spangled with stars." (Boat, p. 141) (see image here)

"After that...she drifted like a rusalka beneath the water." (ibid.)

Two more connections: "...rusalka..." connects Boat to Anderson's The Merman's Children and Operation Luna, the latter the sequel to his Operation Chaos.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A Mangalbites In Constantinople

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), Chapter VII, pp. 155-178.

"'...a mangalbites on the staff of the Archestrategos.'" (p. 170)

I do not remember noticing the odd word "mangalbites" on any previous reading of Boat... However, it provides us with a link to Poul Anderson's The Last Viking Trilogy because the title character of that work, Harald Hardrada, was a "manglabites."

The Last Viking definitely refers to the King Olaf who became St Olaf. I would have to check whether the Trilogy also refers to St Olaf's kinsman, King Olaf I. If so, then this would be another link between the two works (see here).

Other unfamiliar terms
"...the gate and harbor of the Kontoskalion." (p. 156)
"...the fine linen sakkos and bejeweled dalmatic..." (p. 157)
"...the houses of Pera and Galata." (p. 159)

In two successive chapters, Hanno is with an immortal woman but does not know it, then with another but loses her. However, they have the rest of time to find each other again.


Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), Chapter VI.

"'The bell tower, the gilt cupola, belongs to the cathedral of Sviataya Sophia...'" (p. 132) (see image)

"...the abode of Yarilo." (ibid.)

"...Pecheng raiders..." (p. 133)

Where do gods go when they are no longer worshiped? Neil Gaiman tells us here and Poul Anderson's immortal Svoboda also has an answer:

"...the old gods that we suppose still haunt the wilderness..." (ibid.)

Well, they would, wouldn't they?

Nornagest And Starkadh

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), Chapter V.

"' was a nithing's trick...'" (p. 115)

"How fared those masters, those fellow chelas?" (p. 126)

In this chapter, Anderson takes two legendary Norse heroes (see here), incorporates them into his small number of fictional immortals, imagines a meeting between them, then completes their stories in this single chapter so that they do not interact with any of his other immortals.

Each has lived for so long that he has heard of the other in stories. When Starkadh claims that King Frodhi never stinted him, Gest asks:

"'Was that Frodhi Fridhleifsson in  Denmark? They say Starkadh was of his household. But he died lifetimes ago.'" (p. 116)

Later, Starkadh shudders and mumbles:

"'Gest...I remember now, in my own youth there went tales of a wayfarer who - Nornagest. Are you he? I thought he was but a story.'" (p. 123)

When told that he is a figure in stories, Gest responds:

"'Often have I left the North for hundreds of years...So folk remembered me for a while, did they?'" (ibid.)

Yes, you have a Wikipedia article and appear in a novel by Poul Anderson. Because he has wandered East, Gest knows of Christ, Mohammed, the Buddha, Brahma and other pantheons, has learned meditation and has by now surpassed his gurus through many centuries of practice.

Olaf, Nornagest And Starkadh

Poul Anderson, The Boat of A Million Years (London, 1991), Chapter V, pp. 108-131.

Gest of the Norns tells a King Olaf of his meeting with Starkadh the Strong - although this does not seem to be, as I had thought, the King Olaf who became St Olaf.

"It was no skaldic drapa that came to his lips." (p. 112)

"...they wore only sarks..." (p. 114)

"'I'm no scaldcrow...'" (p. 116)

"'Do you think me a coalbiter?'" (p. 118)

Because they are both immortals, Gest proposes a partnership but Starkadh, alienated and violent, is incapable of this. At the end of the chapter, does Nornagest, after receiving baptism, die or enter a yogic trance?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Words And Years II

Continued from here.

"Heat-shimmer made the reliefs on the cella waver." (p. 101)

In Section 7, Zabdas converts his household to Islam.
In Section 8, Aliyat suffers the restriction of the new religion and the qadi advises Zabdas against divorcing his uncanny wife.
In Section 9, Zabdas deputes Aliyat to give discrete instruction in trade to a young Christian kinsman.
In Section 10, Bonnur's instruction begins.
In Section 11, conversation between Aliyat and Bonnur takes a personal turn.
In Section 12, their adultery begins.
In Section 13, Zabdas announces that he will go to Tripolis with Nebozabad for several weeks.
In Section 14, Zabdas and his sons catch them in adultery but he fights and she escapes.
In Section 15, Nebozabad smuggles her out of the city.
In Section 16, she has a night with Nebozabad before beginning her new life in "...all the world and time." (p. 107)

Zabdas accepts Islam as the pure prophetic monotheism that ends superstition about saints and priests and pointless restrictions. However, it imposes ancient Arabian restrictions on women. When I was a student in Manchester, I visited a Sikh family and their Gurdwara and came to see Sikhism as a reformed Islam. A comrade brought up as a Sikh appreciated this description of it.

Words And Years

Poul Anderson, The Boat of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Let's track down a few more less familiar words:

"...the Khalifa himself passed through..." (p. 70);

"...his charges bedded down not in a caravanserai but on a ground beyond the Philippian Gate." (ibid.);

"...Zenobia's bid for freedom -" (p. 71) (I thought it was a place);

"...his stocky form in the plain djellabah..." (ibid.);

"...a table of teakwood carven in foliate patterns and inlaid with nacre..." (p. 87).

In the unnumbered opening section of Chapter IV, Aliyat appeals to Nebozabad the caravan master for help on the ground that he has known her family all his life. He harks back forty years...

In Section 1, Aliyat's husband Barikai proposes to apprentice the ten year old Nebozabad.
In Section 2, Nebozabad informs Aliyat that her husband is stricken and she is present for his death.
In Section 3, Aliyat's son, Hairan, has a grandson.
In Section 4, Hairan arranges Aliyat's marriage to the widowed merchant, Zabdas.
In Section 5, Zabdas marries Aliyat, who conceals her age of ninety.
In Section 6, the caravan master Nebozabad representing Hairan visits Zabdas and speaks with Aliyat, noticing her beauty and offering help if needed.
In Section 7, Islam is founded. (Nebozabad had referred to Muslims in the opening section.) That is as far as I have reread.

A Crucial Event

When Lugo/Hanno discloses that he was born BC, a natural question from a Christian is, "'You seen the Savior?'" (Boat, p. 63) However, Lugo was doing business in Britannia during the reign of Augustus.

In Anderson's There Will Be Time, Jack Havig was in Jerusalem on the estimated day of the Crucifixion but never told Robert Anderson whether he saw Jesus. Carl Farness of the Time Patrol, mistaken for the Wanderer (Odin), said that he could not defend a paganism that he knew was going under but nor could he in honesty argue for Christ.

The Time Patrol would know what happened in Jerusalem. Their Specialists observe and record every crucial/critical/pivotal/axial event so that their guardian section can defend such events from either extra-temporal interference or quantum fluctuations in space-time-energy. That particular period would be extremely unstable with the danger that even remote observation would affect what was being observed. In fact, Anderson tells us that this is the case in the immediately subsequent period of the Jewish War. Events then are unstable as far away as barbarian Germania. However, as to what happened after an execution in Jerusalem, although Anderson's fictional narratives span history and the cosmos, they leave some major questions unanswered.

This morning, Rogue Sword and There Will Be Time have joined the list of other Anderson works referenced while discussing The Boat Of A Million Years. See here.

The Boat And The Sword

In Europe, if a man still looked in his twenties when his wife died of old age, then he would be accused of deviltry and attacked by a mob whereas, in China, if a man remained youthful in appearance after many decades, then he would be regarded as a master of the Tao and invited to advise the Emperor! Poul Anderson shows us both of these outcomes in The Boat Of A Million Years. Neither of these deductions is correct but the Chinese inference is less harmful to say the least.

In Anderson's Rogue Sword, a man who has returned to Europe from China has become familiar with the idea that there is more than one way to God. Also, he knows that a Western Christian can accuse his neighbor of Devil-worship, then plant evidence, whereas the Chinese know how to protect a crime scene.

Thus, in two novels, we get the impression that the ancient Chinese civilization was more civilized than Western Christendom. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Street Scene In Palmyra

Although Poul Anderson's The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991) was not serialized, its Chapter III had been previously published in Analog, June 1988 (see image). Its Chapter IV presents yet another of Anderson's exhaustive list-descriptions. This one is of the agora in Tadmor/Palmyra in 641 AD, marked out by the Colonnade with arches at either end and statues of citizens who have been famous over several centuries.

trading offices



local Aramaic
others from further away

lance pennon

rug seller
wine vendor

oxcart with dates
camel with silks
Persian horsemen and trumpeter
litters bearing a merchant and a courtesan
Christian priest

The Book Of Many Cross-References

In recent posts, discussion of Poul Anderson's The Boat Of A Million Years has involved reference to his:

Time Patrol Series;
The King Of Ys (with Karen Anderson);
Tales Of The Flying Mountains;
"Flight to Forever";
Orion Shall Rise;
Brain Wave;
World Without Stars
Dominic Flandry series;
other "STL future histories";
by implication, one short story about a stranded time traveler and another about a stranded extraterrestrial.

Since I have as yet reread only as far as Chapter IV, section 3 (of 16), other cross-references may become relevant. So far, each chapter has introduced an immortal:

I, Thule - Hanno in 310 BC;
II, The Peaches of Forever - Tu Shan in 19 AD;
III, The Comrade - Rufus, in conversation with Lugo/Hanno, in 359 AD;
IV, Death in Palmyra - Aliyat in 641 AD.

Hanno was already over five hundred years old, an experienced immortal, in 310 BC - born during the reign of Hiram of Tyre. Various works of fiction have accustomed us to the idea that immortals move and change their identity to conceal their longevity every few decades but Anderson shows us Rufus and Aliyat before they have realized the need for this. They can only arouse wonder and suspicion among their contemporaries.

Pollution Of Space?

Comments on the post "Mountebanks And Bacaudae" raised the question: can space be polluted? Googling "Pollution of Space" reveals some articles on the subject. See here. The passage in Poul Anderson's Orion Shall Rise (London, 1988) that I had in mind was:

"'...we will never, never see Earth turned into a residential garden supplied by industrial parks throughout the Solar System. It is in the nature of man that he fouls his own nest.'" (p. 337)

The first sentence says not that space will be polluted but that space industries will not be used to make a pollution-free environment on Earth. However, the second sentence does imply that mankind will generate waste and destruction in any environment, here or elsewhere. If parts of the Moon are colonized but others are used to dump nuclear waste, will these areas encroach on each other - especially if rival groups are involved? We need palaces, not slums, off Earth. Anderson gave us the example of the Selenarchs in Harvest Of Stars. His "Sunjammer" shows how orbiting instruments could be damaged by chemical contamination of near-Earth space.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Emotion And Intelligence In Four Universes

So many connections keep presenting themselves that I feel as though I will soon become one with the Poul Anderson multiverse and will express it all in one Last Post before disappearing into Valhalla - unless I am already there but do not realize it yet?

What do I have to say about "Emotion and Intelligence in Four Universes"?

(i) In The Time Patrol Universe
"The first part of instruction was physical and psychological. Everard had never realized how his own life had crippled him, in body and mind; he was only half the man he could be. It came hard, but in the end it was a joy to feel the utterly controlled power of muscles, the emotions which had grown deeper for being disciplined, the swiftness and precision of conscious thought."
-Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 12.

(ii) In The Immortals' Universe
"'I have the art of controlling sorrow.'"
-The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), p. 63.

(iii) In The Brain Wave Universe
See here and, more generally, here.

(iv) In The "Flight to Forever" Universe
"'...what I saw in both your minds was good - brave and honest, under the little neuroses which all beings at your level of evolution cannot help accumulating. I will be pleased to remove those from you, if you wish.'
"'No thanks,' said Belgotai. 'I like my little neuroses.'"
-Past Times (New York, 1984), p. 261.

What an amazing collection of fictional universes!
We all need Time Patrol training.
One immortal has learned emotional self-control over twelve hundred years.
The enhanced humanity of Brain Wave takes psycho-physical self-control further than any of the other groups of characters.
I do not like my neuroses.
I would have preferred if one of the time travelers had accepted the telepath's help.
We would then have learned what difference it made.

Mountebanks And Bacaudae

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Poul Anderson's extensive vocabulary includes many words that I have never seen before or since but also some that I had encountered although I am hard put to explain them, like "...mountebanks..." (p. 59). Bacaudae (ibid.) I have encountered before but only in Poul and Karen Anderson's King of Ys tetralogy where one such brigand or insurgent becomes the King's right hand man after unsuccessfully challenging him for the crown.

In Boat..., many flee social degradation to become serfs, slaves, itinerants, mountebanks, Bacaudae or barbarians. However, Lugo the immortal is better equipped to deal with changing times:

"Lugo had made better arrangements for himself, well in advance of need. He was accustomed to looking ahead." (p. 59)

Lugo has had to look ahead as an individual but humanity now needs to look ahead as a species.

History In Parallel Works

"The marriage brought [Lugo] certain useful connections, her father being a curial, though no dowry worth mentioning, the curial class being crushed between taxes and civic duties."
-Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), p. 5.

I thought that Anderson had described the plight of the curials before, or indeed that both of the Andersons had alluded to this issue in their King of Ys tetralogy, so I googled "Poul Anderson curials" and was referred to this blog. See here. Thus, both Gratillonius' father and Lugo's grandfather were impoverished curials. Lugo/Hanno was born in Tyre when Hiram was king there. Manson Everard of the Time Patrol visited Tyre in that period and even met Hiram.

These are three works of two kinds:

Ys is historical fiction with the fantasy elements of gods and magic;
Boat... is historical science fiction with the sf elements of immortality and a high tech future;
the Time Patrol is historical science fiction with the sf element of time travel from the future.

Ys, published as a tetralogy of novels, is a single long narrative;
Boat..., published as a single long novel, could have been serialized or its concluding futuristic section (145 pages) published as a sequel to the historical and contemporary sections;
the Time Patrol is a series. 

Knowledge II

How does the world work? "The world" can mean the universe or one planet or society on that planet. Philosophers and scientists try to understand reality or aspects of it. Canny individuals try to understand the workings of the society in which they happen to find themselves living.

The optimal man combines theoretical and practical understanding. For example, when Manson Everard meets the director of the Time Patrol Jerusalem base:

"The position he held told Everard immediately that he was both a man of action and a scholar of profundity."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 307.

Krishna in the Gita teaches a synthesis of spiritual understanding with social action.

In Poul Anderson's The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), Hanno says, "'...I've learned to pay attention.'" (p. 12)

Over six centuries later, Lugo (another immortal or Hanno under a later name?):

"...made it his business to keep fully aware of the world around him." (p. 47);

can talk like a mariner because he has "'...been around.'" (p. 48);

"...had in the course of time taken care to learn the entire city..." (p. 49);

"...had learned patience." (p. 51);

"...had learned preparedness." (ibid.);

"'...keep[s] track of what's going on.'" (p. 58);

"'...worked out the art of memory...[has] clear recall...'" (p. 63);

"'...[has] the art of storing what I know until it's wanted, then calling it forth.'" (ibid.)

"...[has] the art of controlling sorrow." (ibid.); 

In Anderson's Brain Wave, everyone's intelligence increases and some people gain conscious control of their emotions. Maybe immortals would have enough time to work towards such emotional control?

The first hint of Lugo's immortality comes when he reflects that, if he suffers injuries that are less than fatal, then they will soon heal. He meets a fellow immortal who has never been sick or had toothache, whose injuries heal quickly without leaving scars and whose teeth grow back if knocked out.

Unusual Words
"...amphoras..." (p. 47)
"'...the Caelii...'" (p. 48)
"...paenula..." (p. 51)
"...fibula..." (p. 53)

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Peaches Of Forever

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991), pp. 33-46.

An inspector from Ch'ang-an speaks of "'...the Hsiung-nu beyond the Wall...'" (p. 3).

The local subprefect informs the inspector that there are "'Masterless wanderers...'" and says that:

"'Peasants swear that they have seen such a one cure the sick, exorcise demons, raise the dead...'" (p. 36)

There were also such wandering healers in Palestine at that time - 19 AD.

The inspector claims to know about charlatans and also "'...about ordinary wu, folk magicians, honest enough but illiterate and superstitious.'" (ibid.) - although I cannot see this meaning of "wu" in the linked Wikipedia article. The inspector adds that these folk magicians have influenced Lao-Tzu's teachings. I have read accounts that make Taoist philosophy and Taoist religion seem quite distinct, even having different founders, although see here. I have also read persuasive arguments that Zen, which I practice, is a synthesis of Buddhism and Taoism. I would be happy for an image of Lao-Tzu to accompany the statue of the Buddha on Zen altars but that is not how things are done.

The conversation takes place ten years into the reign of Wang Mang. Tu Shan, the immortal introduced in Chapter II, says that Hsi Wang Mu, Mother of the West, grows peaches of immortality, but this is only because people expect him to explain his longevity although he cannot. The subprefect says that Tu Shan "'...mediates, or so he claims.'" (p. 38) Should that be "...meditates"?

With Hanno Through History

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Pytheas' voyage was "' search of the Amber Island...'" (p. 30). I have not found this Island on google. It might be a suitably mythological name invented by Anderson. Pytheas lingers in Thule where a young woman brings him "'...a springtime you thought you'd lost...'" (ibid.) but Hanno persuades him to continue and return home, leaving the woman behind.

For the present, I have been drawn back into rereading Boat... Although I have reread and posted about this novel before (see here), there is a great deal more to be found in the text. Having paid closer attention to Hanno's exploits in 310 BC, I now want to reread his second appearance although I know that other immortals interweave and interact through successive periods from 310 BC to 1975 AD and ? (a remote future).

The immortals in Anderson's World Without Stars employ an artificial means to edit their memories whereas Hanno and his colleagues must deploy their own inner resources to avoid being overwhelmed by accumulating memories. Time Patrol agents are not only time travelers but also immortals because they receive a future anti-age treatment. However, this aspect is not addressed in that series.

The Passage Of Time

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

Pytheas invites Hanno to stay in the Greek colony of Massalia (Marseilles) as a citizen, not as a metic (p. 32). Hanno, refusing, says:

"'I am everywhere an alien.'" (ibid.)

Of course we know that this novel is about immortals but so far, in this opening chapter, Hanno could have been a stranded extraterrestrial or time traveler. What do immortals and time travelers have in common? An immortal may have experienced more past periods but cannot return to them.

Hanno says:

"'What else is life but always bidding farewell?'" (ibid.)

He speaks from experience whereas, when a Time Patrol recruit says:

"...I had been warned at the beginning that a Time Patrol agent's life becomes a series of farewells.'" (Time Patrol, New York, 2006) -

- he must add:

"I had yet to learn what that really meant.'" (ibid.)

On the facing page, three hundred and twenty nine years later, we read of "...yellow-brown loess soil..." (p. 33) in China. We will later learn that Hanno is still alive somewhere.