Saturday, 27 August 2016

Three Narratives

Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000).

When Steve Matuchek writes that his story splits three ways:

he confers with Native American gods;
Ginny consults Mimir;
Valeria remains at home.

The riddle that Ginny asks Mimir to solve is the US tax code. Thus, in this chapter, the story becomes a satire. The wise jotun consulted by Odin about the Ragnarok gnaws his beard while struggling to understand income tax.

There is a further point here. We read chapters that are narrated from Ginny's and Valeria's points of view. Thus, in these chapters, third person narration replaces first person narration. For example, Valeria wonders:

"How about rereading a Magister Lazarus book? And, after dinner, playing some music to fall asleep by? Who knew but what Daddy and Mom would both be back when she woke..." (p. 362)

If the entire book had been written from Valeria's pov, then we would accept that this was what she thought. However, Steve has already told us that he had reconstructed this part of the story from information received later and from guesswork. Thus, Valeria might not have thought precisely this. It is her father's guess at the kind of thing that she might have thought.

He has also told us (see here) that his narrative is to be be put under a hundred-year seal so that, in any case, none of his contemporaries and none of Valeria's acquaintances will ever read it. And it is not addressed to us in our timeline as the telepathically broadcast Operation Chaos was. So we are not reading it either. The process of narration becomes ever more mysterious.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Interesting points, about how MYSTERIOUS the narration becomes in OPERATION LUNA.

    And I wonder who or what was Magister Lazarus? And who was the author of a series of stories Valeria Matuchek liked? We see here mention of fictions inside a fiction!


    1. Sean,
      See p. 88 -
      - and recognize a pen name.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Cool beans thanks! Hardback or softcover? I only have the hardback edition. I will check out page 88. Pagination differs, you know!


    3. Sean,
      Of course, sorry. It is the edition that I have been quoting: paperback, TOR, New York, 2000, last page or so of Chapter 8.

    4. Sean,
      Also, on this blog, see "More Differences Between Timelines," Sunday 9 September 2012.

    5. Kaor, Paul!

      I found the reference to Magister Lazarus by looking backwards from page 88 of my copy of OPERATION LUNA. It was on page 72. My preferred method when quoting from one of Anderson or Stirling's books is to use chapter numbers (and, where possible, numbered sections inside chapters).

      I checked the Clutopedia, "Lyle Monroe" was one of Robert Heinlein's pseudonyms. And "Magister Lazarus" must be an allusion to Heinlein's character Lazarus Long.

      And I will look up the older blog piece of yours!