Thursday, 1 September 2016

Distance And Giganticism

In this post, we compare and contrast an adult fantasy novel with a juvenile sf novel:

Poul Anderson, Three Hearts And Three Lions (London, 1977);
James Blish, Mission To The Heart Stars (London, 1980).

(When referring to CS Lewis, we found an accidental "Lion" theme in the titles. With Blish, there is an accidental "Heart" theme.)

Distance
Anderson's Holger Carlsen has been transported from our Earth or one like it to a mythological Earth where a demon says that:

"'...ye are from far away, so far that a man might travel till Judgment Day and not reach your home.'" (Three Hearts..., Chapter Two, p. 22)

- and, after arriving in that distant world, Holger must make a long journey by horseback into Faerie.

Blish's Jack Loftus and his companions take well over two years at faster than light speeds to reach the galactic Heart Stars. Thus, Jack travels not only to the galactic center but also into adulthood: a rite of passage story.

Giganticism
Invited to dinner, Holger enters:

"...a chamber so huge he could scarcely see the end or the ceiling." (Three Hearts..., Chapter Seven, p. 45)

They dance in an even larger chamber.

The Heart Stars confederation is called the Hegemony of Malis. When Jack enters the Hegemon's audience room:

he compares it to the Hall of the Mountain King;
it is of stone and artificially lit;
its ceiling cannot be seen;
Jack feels that there might be clouds beneath the ceiling;
it is like the universe's biggest cathedral although not cathedral-like in atmosphere;
many unidentifiable machines, all dissimilar, are spaced along its walls;
the place is uncluttered, austere and built to last, away from earthquake zones;
the Hegemon is over eight feet tall, blocky, powerful, granite-colored, facially resembling an Easter Island statue and wearing an undecorated black tunic with bare arms and legs;
although Earth has made an alliance with the immortal Star Dwellers, who are capable of collapsing galaxies, the Hegemon's machines predict that the Dwellers will not intervene if the Hegemony forcibly annexes Earth;
he so orders.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Not having read Blish's MISSION TO THE HEART STARS I cannot sensibly comment about that book. My loss, I'm sure!

    But C.S. Lewis was a fan and intelligent commentator on science fiction, even if I think his "Space Trilogy" rather too "soft" as SF. I have wondered if Lewis ever reviewed any of the books of Poul Anderson before he died.

    I do know JRR Tolkien dashed off some hasty and fairly critical comments about Anderson's "The Valor of Cappen Varra."

    Sean

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