Friday, 15 January 2016

In Archona

Regular readers know that this blog locates Poul Anderson in a literary tradition from Mary Shelly through Olaf Stapledon, HG Wells and Robert Heinlein to Anderson and SM Stirling. Wells wrote one of (almost) everything, including one alternative history, Men Like Gods. Anderson, of course, wrote several alternative histories whereas Stirling, specializing in this sf sub-genre, develops it further than Anderson.

Stirling's account of a guest suite in the von Shrakenberg townhouse in Archona, capital city of the Domination of the Draka, displays the meticulous attention to detail that is frequently appreciated on this blog:

Coromandel sandalwood screens in pearl and lapis;
a round water bed on a canopied marble dais;
a wall of frosted glass balcony doors, delicately etched with traceries of fern and water-fowl, slightly opened to admit diffuse city light fragmented by wind-stirred leaves;
smells of water, stone and frangipani blossoms;
air warm enough for nakedness.
-SM Stirling, The Stone Dogs (New York, 1990), p. 264.

Three senses!

I am ignorant about Classical music. How much of the information in the following passage is common to our timeline and how much is particular to the Draka timeline? -

"Her mind still glowed from the impossible beauty of Gerraldson's music... Why had he killed himself, at the height of his talent? Why had Mozart, for that matter?" (ibid.)


  1. Kaor, Paul,

    I am a lover of classical music, although neither a musician myself nor a great expert on the topic. I have never heard of Gerraldson (outside of Stirling's alternate history), and in our timeline, Mozart did not kill himself; he may have died from trichinosis. One can speculate that Gerraldson's sensitive soul may have been offended by Draka society, although people who don't live in developing dystopias also commit suicide sometimes. Whatever might have driven an alternate version of Mozart to kill himself, it presumably wasn't the Drakians, who were over a century from conquering Austria in his time.

    Best Regards,
    Nicholas D. Rosen

  2. Nicholas,
    As I suspected. Thanks.