Thursday, 18 August 2016

Visions Of Hell

Dante: the elaborate Inferno.
Milton: a Dungeon and Furnace.
CS Lewis: a gray city.
Mike Carey: a feudal countryside.
Robert Heinlein: (I need to reread the appropriate passage of Magic Inc.)
Poul Anderson:

(i) chaos in every dimension;
(ii) a planetary surface with dark sky and darker stars lit only by colorless ground phosphorescence and occasional "...corposants..." (Operation Chaos, p. 258)

How does (ii) exist as part of (i)?

"...the world around us grew steadier. Somebody or something wanted to lair in a region where disturbances tended to cancel out." (ibid.)

Say rather that it would be impossible for anyone or anything to lair in a region where disturbances did not cancel out but continually exacerbated each other. In such a region, there could be neither order nor life. The Time Patrol's task is to prevent a universe like ours from becoming like that. Milton's Chaos personified spreads his dark pavilion wide on the wasteful Deep. Impossible. But this is poetry.

Milton also had a pre-scientific conception of cosmic vastness - the distance from Heaven to Hell is only three Terrestrial radii.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

In some ways, I think Dante was more scientifically sophisticated than Milton, despite the former dying three centuries before the latter lived. For example, we see Dante, as he was rising to Paradise looking down on the little threshing ground that was our Earth. Educated people of Dante's time certainly knew the world was round, after all.