Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Sword Of Time

Has anyone used the phrase, "The Sword of Time," as a title? It seems obvious to connect the much-used words, "Sword" and "Time." This name would be appropriate for Rudi Mackenzie's Sword which, when stuck into a stone near Lost Lake in SM Stirling's Lord Of Mountains, cuts through Time, enabling the High King to meet some of his ancestors and his unborn daughter.

"...of Time" is a significant phrase in book titles, e.g.:

“Once more, he had hit the bottom of the telescope of time…” 28

This evocative phrase, “…the telescope of time…," could have become a title like Blish’s The Triumph Of Time and The Quincunx Of Time. Remembering an experience from decades ago can resemble observing a spatially remote event through the wrong end of a telescope. Lewis applied precisely this image to time:

“ ‘Time is the very lens through which ye see – small and clear, as a man sees through the wrong end of a telescope - …Freedom…,’ ” 29
free will and eternal choice. Lewis looks through the telescope of “Time” and enters an imaginatively described Christian Eternity. Martels falls through his “telescope of time” and enters an intellectually systematied mystical immortality.
-copied from here.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Log Cabin

Flandry and Kossara hide out in her father's log cabin in the Northrim:

icy clearness;
frost on windows;
autumn colors on wooded hills;
clangorous flocks of southbound yegyupka;
the sweet cry of a savage vilya;
air made pungent by firebush spontaneously combusting to ripen and disperse its seeds;
walnuts by a waterfall;
after dinner, brandly-laced coffee on a rug by the fire;
colored flames lighting the room;
leaping shadows;
conversations about their shared future...

This will be their happiest time together.

Sun Hair And A Promise

In 13, 210 B.C.:

"So had Sun Hair promised them... 'A new world.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), Part Four, p. 250.

In "...the beginning...Not long after the Ice withdrew...":

"'This land lies empty for you...'
"' are always welcome on our runs, Sun Hair.'"
-SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Sixteen, p. 342.

I have not yet unravelled the temporal complexities in these chapters of Lord Of Mountains but I did spot "Sun Hair" (not the same person) in two timelines.

In The Kazan

Apparently, "Kazan" means "Cauldron."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT p. 499.

The Kazan is a large astrobleme on the continent of Rodna on the planet, Dennitza. Lake Stoyna and the Dennitzan capital, Zorkagrad, are at the centre of the Kazan which is filled with woods, farms and rivers. The Dubina Dolyina province takes its name from a gorge cut through the Kazan ringwall by the Lubisha River.

Danilo Vymezal is voivode of Dubina Dolyina. The Vymezal estate is on high ground, overlooking farm, forest and river. There is an outer gate, then a driveway through gardens and parks. The tile-roofed, half-timbered, brick manor has a rear court surrounded by servants' cottages, garages, sheds, stables, mews, workshops, bakery, brewery, armory, recreation hall, school and chapel. Dennitzans have lived thus for centuries but now are under threat.

The voivode receives Flandry in the darkly wainscoted, heavily furnished, third storey Gray Chamber, decorated with rugs and drapes, which has a doubly thick door for confidentiality.

Time Gone Awry

Wanda Tamberly says:

"'What they showed me, though, the records -'
"He nodded. 'Consequences of time gone awry. Bad.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), Part Four, 1990, p. 253.

The Time Patrol has records of events that did not happen in the current timeline. Which such alternative records do we know of?

(i) In the current timeline, Charles Whitcomb resigned from the Patrol after his first case, to live with his wife Mary in Victorian London, yet the Patrol has records of Whitcomb remaining a bachelor and eventually being killed on active duty. Whatever cases he would have worked on in that alternative career must have been worked on by other agents in the current timeline.

(ii) There was a timeline in which Patrolman Keith Denison played the role of Cyrus the Great for sixteen years.

(iii) There was a timeline in which Carthage won the Second Punic War.

(iv) At this stage of Wanda's career, the Patrol would not have been able to inform her of either the alpha or the beta timeline with their alternative versions of medieval history. The alpha timeline resulted from a quantum fluctuation and the beta timeline resulted from the Patrol's first attempt to prevent the alpha timeline. Patrol members had not yet experienced either of these divergent timelines.

(v) Maybe the Patrol has records of timelines generated by the Nine, the discoverers of time travel, or by other time criminals "before" the Danellians appeared and set up the Patrol to police the time lanes?

Symmetrical Questions

There is a symmetry to two questions asked in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series:

Should Hilter's birth be prevented?
Should the death in the War of a Time Patrolman's fiancee be prevented?

To a time traveller, these are essentially the same question although they involve preventing a birth and a death, respectively. Is it ever right to change the past - assuming that it can be changed? A changeable past is one premise of the Time Patrol series.

The first time Charles Whitcomb raises the second question, he formulates it in terms of killing Hitler:

"'I'm not allowed to go back and shoot that ruddy bastard Hitler in his cradle. I'm supposed to let him grow up as he did, and start the war, and kill my girl.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Time Patrol" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, Ny, 2006), pp. 1-53 AT 2, p. 16.

However, when Whitcomb does try to save Mary, he attempts only to prevent her from visiting a neighbour's house that is to be bombed. There are two issues here:

on the one hand, the Patrol forbids any time traveller to change the course of history, e.g., by killing Hitler in infancy;

on the other hand, it would not change history if one Mary Nelson had lived in London from 1850 to 1900 whereas another Mary Nelson went missing and was thought to have been killed by a bomb near a neighbour's house in 1944.

Nevertheless, the second situation can exist only if, behind the scenes, Whitcomb and Everard have rescued Mary from 1944 and transported her to 1850 and the Patrol forbids any such meddling because of the wider effects that it could have. However, there may be exceptions in such individual cases whereas there cannot possibly be an exception to the prohibition of killing Hitler. Because of variable reality, the Patrol can have records of events that did not happen and can also encounter events that have not been recorded. In this case, the Patrol has two contradictory records:

Charles and Mary Whitcomb lived in Victorian London;
Mary died in 1944 and Charles, remaining a bachelor, was killed on active duty with the Patrol.

These two sets of events could have been left in existence. There would have been two versions of Charles and Mary in a single timeline. However, a Danellian explains that:

" even the smallest paradox is a dangerous weakness in the space-time fabric, it had to be rectified by eliminating one or the other fact from ever having existed." (6, p. 52)

Because of Everard's intervention:

Charles and Mary Whitcomb lived in Victorian London;
Mary is presumed killed by a bomb near the home of the Enderby family who, however, were at Mary's house at the time and were not killed (this is a change);
Charles Whitcomb disappeared in 1947, presumed drowned (another change).

The Danellians find these small changes preferable to the original discrepancy.

Here is a related question. When Carl Farness' Gothic leman has died in childbirth because of an aneurysm of the cerebral artery, Carl asks:

"'Suppose we went downtime of her pregnancy...We could bring her here [to 2319], fix that artery, blank her memories of the whole trip, and return her to - live out a healthy life.'"
-"The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" IN Time Patrol, pp. 333-465 AT p. 376.

He is reminded that the Patrol does not change but preserves the past. But there are other complications. By preventing Jorith's death, Carl would have prevented himself from going to 2319 for help... Either there would now be two Carls, one who had helped to fix Jorith's artery and another who had not needed to do so - unless the Carl who attended to birth now no longer existed because the timeline had been changed by the fixing of the artery -, or, if Carl was prevented from setting off to 2319 to get help, then he would also be prevented from arriving in 2319 to get help. This gets too complicated.

Continuing Consequences Of World War II In Life And Fiction

(i) Every British town and village has a War Memorial. A man who returned to England after decades in Australia learnt that his best friend during the War had not survived the War by seeing his name listed on such a memorial.

(ii) When a missing girl is being sought:

"Patrols were sent out to make a second sweep of the particularly rugged terrain, as well as an area known as 'the fortress' - a now-abandoned bunker system that was built during the Second World War."
-Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (London, 2008), Chapter 8, p. 136.

(iii) Visitors to Ostend can look around inside the former German defences.

(iv) An instructor at the Time Patrol Academy tells cadets how easy it would be to prevent the birth of Adolf Hitler...

(v) Over a thousand years later, Dominic Flandry cites the example of countries changing sides after World War II. See Changing Sides.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

"Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them" II

Here are those quotes. (See here.)

"'Things have a way of recurring. People do.
"'Therefore it is wise to study those who have been part of great events. They may again, whether or not our extant records show anything of it.'
"'But I was just borne along,' [Wanda] stammered. 'Manse - Agent Everard, he was the one who counted.'
"'I want to make sure of that,' Guion said."
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), Part Three, p. 136.

"...whether or not our extant records show anything of it..." Guion has access to the records of Wanda's life from birth to death. Nevertheless, in a variable timeline, he must prepare for the possibility that she will be involved in great events unmentioned in those records.

(In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Destiny knows what was, is and will be, yet Delirium claims to know things that even he does not know.)

Shortly afterwards, Wanda thinks:

"She wasn't important, she decided. Impossible. This wasn't humility - she expected to do a topflight job in her coming line of work - but common sense." (ibid.)

Wanda is not important but certain events are.

Guion tells Everard:

"'Sometimes, however, individuals have a significance far beyond their ostensible worth. Not that you or I count for nothing in ourselves. But as an illustration of the general principle, take, oh, Alfred Dreyfus. He was a competent and conscientious officer, an asset to France. But it was because of what happened to him that great events came about.'" (Part Five, p. 260)

Elwin Ransom tells CS Lewis:

"'Don't imagine I've been selected to go to Perelandra because I'm anyone in particular. One never can see, or not till long afterwards, why any one was selected for any job. And when one does, it is usually some reason that leaves no room for vanity. Certainly, it is never for what the man himself would have regarded as his chief qualifications. I rather fancy I am being sent because those two blackguards who kidnapped me and took me to Malacandra did something which they never intended; namely, gave a human being a chance to learn that language.'"
-CS Lewis, Perelandra IN Lewis, The Cosmic Trilogy (London, 1990), pp. 145-348 AT Chapter 2, pp. 163-164.

So I bow to the combined wisdom of Poul Anderson, Neil Gaiman and CS Lewis, also of Guion, Delerium and Ransom.

There are two issues here but they interconnect:

Are events more important than persons?
Is there something other than known events?

By The Lyubisha River

On Dennitza, the Kazan is a large astrobleme. During glaciation, a colter of ice pierced the Kazan ringwall, then the melt-begotten Lyubisha River formed a canyon. Flandry watches the broad, brown river which is:

"...quiet except where it chuckled around a boulder or a sandbar near its banks."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT p. 524.

(In Anderson's Time Patrol series, time is compared to a river with changeable features like sandbars that can divert its course.)

"...ocherous palisades..." are "...maned with forest." (ibid.) Leaves are bluish-green or plum-coloured.

"...trees...grew taller than the taiga granted." (ibid.)

My points are, first, that Anderson shows us an alien landscape where, e.g., we must not assume that leaves are Terretrial green and, secondly, that his vocabulary is rich even when describing features that might be common to Earth and Dennitza.

A Conference Dinner

SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Fourteen, is a political argument and a meal so let's focus on the meal, starting with the pre-dinner cocktail hour:

an ice-cold mixture of whiskey, sweetened cream, coffee, anisette and absinthe;
potted shrimp, spiced goose liver or smoked salmon and capers on crackers;
chicken sausage soup simmered with wine, broth, garlic, tomatoes, spinach and tortellini;
hot beaten biscuits and butter;
dry white wine;
horseradish-cruted roast venison;
seasoned grilled potatoes;
late asparagus;
a winter salad of pickled vegetables;
warm breads;
red Pinot Noir;
glazed fruit-tarts;
ice-cream with hazlenuts;

"Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them"

When glancing at a very few of the ways that World War II has been reflected in fiction (see here), we cited an amazing list of texts:

the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson;
the Worldwar series by Harry Turtledove;
Three Hearts And Three Lions and the Time Patrol series by Poul Anderson;
The War In The Air and The Shape Of Things To Come by HG Wells;
the Draka History by SM Stirling;
the Ransom Trilogy by CS Lewis.

Here is another question. What determines which individuals play pivotal roles in history? Are some individuals great or is greatness thrust upon them? There are relevant passages in the Time Patrol and Ransom which I will quote as soon as I can get back home and consult my copies of The Shield Of Time and The Cosmic Trilogy!

A Man And His Rep II

See A Man And His Rep.

Here is another example of a man and his reputation parting company. When Kossara Vymezal's captors discuss "'...this, uh, Captain Flandry...,'" obviously never having heard of him before, Kossara thinks:

"Hoy? Chives said Flandry is famous. - No. How many light-years, how many millions of minds can fame cover before it spreads vanishingly thin?"
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT p. 473.

This puts Flandry in exactly the same position as Falkayn in Mirkheim. Anderson deduces one implication of a number of civilizations interacting on an interstellar scale. Nowadays, some politicians and celebrities are known all over one planet but who could possibly be known throughout hundreds of cubic light years?

Edwin Cairncross hopes to be remembered through the lifetime of the universe! See here.

Credit Where Credit Is Due Department
The book cover copied here accurately depicts a scene in the novel:

Flandry flies into the cave in combat armour;
the Merseian, Glydh, grabs Kossara;
with a blaster needle beam, Flandry shoots Glydh in the head;
steam, brain matter, blood and bone spurt across Kossara.

Can you conceive of the mentality of a human being who willingly serves the Roidhunate? I reread this passage hoping to find some interesting information about Glydh's assistant, Mohammad Snell, but failed. Anderson gives us the minimal biographical data that we have come to expect:

The Merseian
Personal name: Glydh.
Vach: Rueth.
Nickname: Far-Farer.
Rank: afal.
Corps: Naval Intelligence.

Glydh's Assistant
Human name: Mohammad Snell.
Eriau name: Kluwych.
Place of birth: somewhere in the Roidhunate.

Neither survives his encounter with Flandry.

Changing Sides

"''ve long been in the forefront of resistance to the Roidhunate. However, such attitudes can change overnight. History's abulge with examples. For instance, England's rebellious North American colonies calling on the French they fought less than two decades before; or America a couple of centuries later, allied first with the Russians against the Germans, then turning straight around and -' He stopped. 'This doesn't mean anything to you, does it?'"
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT p. 481.

A Dennitzan does not know Terrestrial history of over a thousand years previously. We have recently discussed enemies becoming allies. See combox here, also here.

Ian Fleming highlighted post-War security problems:

"' know what M is, independent old devil. He's never been happy about NATO Security. Why, right in the SHAPE Intelligence Division there are not only a couple of Frenchmen and an Italian, but the Head of their Counter Intelligence and Security section is a German!'
"Bond whistled."
-Ian Fleming, "From A View To A Kill" IN Fleming, For Your Eyes Only (London, 1964), pp. 7-37 AT p. 18.

M and Bond had fought the Germans and Italians and some of the French had collaborated. We will continue to see amazing turnarounds.

War In Art And Life II

What did I miss about World War II here?

HG Wells predicted World Wars I and II.

Instead of WW I, II and III, SM Stirling's Draka have the Great War, the Eurasian War and the Final War.

CS Lewis' Perelandra was written and published during World War II:

"'...the two sides, as you call them, have begun to appear much more clearly, much less mixed, here on Earth, in our own human affairs - to show in something a little more like their true colours.'
"'I see that all right.'"
-CS Lewis, Perelandra IN Lewis, The Cosmic Trilogy (London, 1990), pp. 145-348 AT p. 162.

Thus, Lewis, like Anderson in Three Hearts And Three Lions, links the War to a vaster conflict.

War In Art And Life

Art reflects life in different ways.

In Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, some members of the Vanger family were Nazis during the War.

In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, aliens invaded Earth during World War II.

In Poul Anderson's Three Hearts And Three Lions:

"'Those two worlds - and many more, for all I know - are in some way the same. The same fight was being waged, here the Nazis and there the Middle World; but, in both cases, Chaos against Law, something old and wild and blind against man and the works of man.'"
-Poul Anderson, Three Hearts and Three Lions (London, 1977), NOTE, p. 155.

In Anderson's "Time Patrol," a time traveller prevents his fiancee's death in a London air raid.

World War II casts its shadow over succeeding decades.
Nazis march now.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Knights Templar

Poul Anderson contributed a Time Patrol story to an anthology of original stories about the Knights Templar whereas Stieg Larsson's Mikael Blomkvist wrote a book about financial journalism called The Knights Templar.


on Earth Real, Tales Of The Knights Templar, the Time Patrol series and Larsson's Millennium Trilogy exist as works of fiction;

on Earth Millennium, Tales... and the Time Patrol exist as fiction and Blomkvist's The Knights Templar exists as non-fiction;

on Earth Time Patrol, Tales Of The Knights Templar, maybe with a non-Time Patrol story by Anderson, and the Millennium Trilogy exist as fiction.

Relationships between parallel Earths are not always straightforward.

"'Besides war, [the Templars] went in for banking, and ended up mainly doing that. The outfit got hog-rich.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Death And The Knight" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, NY, 2006), pp. 741-765 AT p. 748.

So maybe The Knights Templar is an appropriate title for a book about financial journalism?

Another Planet

How often does Poul Anderson inform or remind us that each planet is an entire world? There must be a relevant quote somewhere on the blog. The other side of this coin is to point out that places on Earth differ so much that they are like different planets. References to other planets or to other parts of the universe can add a slightly sfnal dimension to contemporary fiction, e.g., in Anderson's own Trygve Yamamura novels. See here.

"High banks of snow presented a picturesque contrast to Stockholm. [Hedestad] seemed almost like another planet, yet he was only a little more than three hours from Sergels Torg in downtown Stockholm."
-Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (London, 2008), Chapter 4, pp. 68-69.

Uppsala III

"After Uppsala came the string of small industrial towns along the Norrland coast. Hedestad [fictional] was one of the smaller ones, a little more than an hour north of Gavle."
-Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (London, 2008), Chapter 4, p. 68.

Uppsala is, like Norrland, another name to conjure with. The former was famous for its Temple, which is described by Poul Anderson. (See the "Uppsala" link in the previous sentence.) Anderson takes us to Uppsala in the days when the gods were worshipped in the Temple whereas Larsson's Mikael Blomkvist passes through Uppsala by train en route to Hedestad. Heroic fantasies and contemporary novels share geography and historical associations.

Norrland And Norrheim

"Born up in Norrland..."
-Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (London, 2008), Chapter 1, p. 20.

The names of Norrland, referred to once before (see here), and of Norrheim have much the same meaning. (See Heim.) Norrland is the northernmost part of Sweden whereas Norrheim is a Norsified ally of the High Kingdom of Montival in SM Stirling's Emberverse.

Both names evoke a remote and cold realm, an appropriate setting for fantasies based on Norse mythology, although Norrland is in fact a real geographical location with modern industries and investment companies. A contemporary novel evokes the ancient past with its use of settings and place names.

Mixed Reading

Currently, I am:

reading SM Stirling's Emberverse series;
rereading parts of Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series;
starting yet again to reread Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.

While rereading, it is possible to notice many details as if for the first time. All three authors present a wealth of fictional and descriptive details that are probably missed on a first reading, e.g., a summer evening or a Dennitzan forest. I have read and posted about Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers and Conquistador twice and Anderson's The People Of The Wind maybe three times.

The Millennium Trilogy previously generated several comparisons and contrasts with Anderson's works (see here). This might happen again although blogging is unpredictable.

A Dennitzan Forest

On Dennitza, Dominic Flandry and Kossara Vymezal land in a forest. Poul Anderson must show that this forest is not interchangeable with a Terrestrial equivalent. There is:

mahovina turf;
woodland "duff," the two relevant meanings of "duff" being plant litter and detritus;
the local equivalent of evergreens - low, gnarly trees, their branches plumed blue-black;
shrubbery but no real underbrush;
open sod.

Anderson sometimes describes a local equivalent of grass, e.g., on Aeneas, Avalon, Talwin and here.

Truth In The News?

How can we believe anything that we hear in the news? In the fictional scenario of A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, Poul Anderson shows us how everything could be faked.

Why do Terran and Dennizan Intelligence reports about Merseian movements differ?
Are any Merseian movements a mere show for Dennitzan scouts?
Kossara's enslavement on Terra was not reported there but this inflammatory news did get quickly back to Dennitza. (She is the Gospodar's niece.)
Could barbarians in Sector Spica have been encouraged to attack in order to draw Imperial attention there? (Emperor Hans is less accesible while he leads a fleet against them.)
Are Merseian undercover men high in the Gospodar's councils keeping important information away from him?
Instead of directly approaching the Gospodar, should Flandry and Kossara covertly visit her parents and send a domestic servant with a secret message for the Gospodar while Chives proceeds openly to Zorkagrad with false papers forged by Flandry?

The mind boggles.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Very Strange And Weird

"Mackenzies weren't actually evil, the way the Church Universal and Triumphant was, even the most stiff-necked of Catholics admitted that. But...
"They are very, very strange and weird. I'm glad I was born among sensible and civil folk with normal customs and in the bosom of Holy Church."
-SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Eleven, p. 235.

Individual responses to a religious upbringing vary. A friend at University divided Catholics into intense, intelligent or indifferent. (He said "pious," not "intense," but I wanted three "i"s.) When I worked as a Careers Advisor, some pupils in a Catholic school told me that they wanted to leave the school as soon as possible because they wanted to get away from the religion whereas a pupil in a non-Catholic school told me that he wanted to attend Cardinal Newman College because it was Catholic. It was my job to help each of these pupils to do what he wanted despite the views of a teacher in the Catholic school.

There are two questions here. Are Catholic doctrines true? I do not believe so. Could changed social conditions bring it about that the population of a previously secular society came to be born "in the bosom of Holy Church"? Yes. SM Stirling shows us such conditions in his Emberverse series. Poul Anderson shows us the population of a colonized planet preserving "Orthochristianity" in A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows. Such social conditions are entirely independent of the truth or falsity of the beliefs in question. In fact, Stirling's Norman Arminger set out to reproduce feudalism, including its religion, for purposes of personal power, not of faith.

Medieval And Emberverse Terminology

SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013).

Bjarni Ironrede, King in Norrheim, picks his fighters from all the Norrheimer tribes, including "...his own Bjornings, the Hrossings..." etc. (Chapter Twelve, p. 258)

"Bjarni" is a diminutive of "Bjorn" (see here) so "Bjorning" means the tribe descended from Bjorn/Bjarni? (I think.)

"...destriers rising in caracole..." (Chapter Eleven, p. 250)

"' A l'outrance - charge!'" (ibid.)

"...armor of steel and cuir-bolli..." (Chapter Twelve, p. 253)

"'...thirty or forty conroi of lancers...'" (Chapter Twelve, p. 264)

"...her menie..." (Chapter Twelve, p. 265) (I can't find it on google.)

We have had "destriers" and "menie" before but I did not know what any of the others meant.

Through The Western Gate

This post addresses a dark theme in works by:

SM Stirling;
John Milton;
James Blish -

- but ends on a positive note with Poul Anderson.

"...I wouldn't have liked to be in his skin when he had to make accounting to the Guardians of the Western Gate."
-SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Seven, p. 136.

(Anyone who has gone through the "Western Gate" has left his "skin" behind.)

"So many to Heaven or Hell or Purgatory today..." (Chapter Eleven, p. 233)

Is there a judgmental hereafter? If there is, then are we judged by an external deity or by the inner self? The latter process can begin now. How many will be surprised and shocked in such a hereafter? Bigots believe that everyone who disagrees with them will be damned. This happens in Milton's Paradise Lost, Book Three.

James Blish's black magician, Theron Ware, says of his antagonist, the white magician, Father Domenico:

"'He's not significantly holier than us...I know something he doesn't know, too. He's in for a surprise in the next world.'"
-James Blish, Black Easter IN Blish, After Such Knowledge (London, 1991), pp. 319-425 AT Three Sleeps, 7, p. 354.

Later, Ware tells Domenico:

"'I can tell you of my own certain knowledge that every single pillar saint went straight to Hell...
"'...there is no such thing as white magic. It is all black, black, black as the ace of spades, and you have imperilled your immortal soul by practising it...'"
-James Blish, The Day After Judgement IN After Such Knowledge, pp. 427-522 AT The Harrowing of Heaven, 11, p. 511.

Can Poul Anderson tells us anything cheerful after all that? One of his novels concludes:

"'I've a notion He creates nothing in vain. That Satan himself, after Armageddon and what follows have shown him the error of his ways, may repent and be shriven. That on the Last Day, not only will our dead be resurrected, but all that ever was, ever lived, to the glory of God.'
"Father Tomislav was quiet for a space before he said, 'Now don't you suppose that's necessarily the truth. I'm sure of divine love, but the rest of what I spoke was only my mind rambling. It's not in the canon. It could be heresy.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Merman's Children (London, 1981), Epilogue, p. 258.

Father Tomislav combines optimism with humility. Amen.

Wanderers And A Wayfarer

Wodan is the Wanderer.

"They called him Ingolf the Wanderer, and it was said no man since the Change had crossed from the eastern sea to the western so many times."
-SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Eleven, p. 239.

Adzel, an interstellar explorer, is later known as Adzel the Wayfarer.

Wodan travels between the Nine Worlds in the Tree.
Ingolf travels back and forth across North America.
Adzel travels between planetary systems.


two kinds of universe, Eddaic and scientific;
within the latter, cosmically different scales - 2,680 miles as against millions of millions of miles.

Some Details In A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows

Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606.

Dominic Flandry thinks:

"Yes, God, Whom the believers say made all triumphant beauty." (Chapter XII, p. 496)

A grammatical error: "Whom" is the subject of "made" and therefore should not be in the accusative case. Anderson must have thought that "Whom" was the object of "say" whereas "say" is followed not by the pronoun alone but by the entire phrase, "Who...made all triumphant beauty."

We always appreciate descriptions of meals, however brief. In Chapter XII, pp. 493-494, Chives serves breakfast to Flandry and Kossara:

shining orange juice;
fragrant coffee;
an omelet;
fresh-baked bread.

Does it come as a surprise when, in Chapter XVII, p. 565, Chives' suspects Flandry's son of treason? Flandry had begun to suspect sixty pages earlier:

"'...could I resist hallooing off -'
"It jarred through him: - off into whatever trap was set by a person who knew me?
...No! This is fantastic! Forget it!" (Chapter XII, p. 505)

This is an Andersonian moment of realization but, unusually, one that Flandry initially suppresses.

On the colonized planet, Dennitza, the Gospodar (head of state) has, since the days of the Founders, addressed Shkoptsina (Parliament) from a "...wooden lectern, carved with vines and leaves beneath outward-sweeping yelen horns..." (Chapter XIII, p. 514) The current Gospodar wears "...the grey tunic and red cloak of a militia officer, knife and pistol on hips..." (ibid.)

Weapons in Parliament - troubled times.

"His words boomed across crowded tiers in the great stone hall, seemed almost to make the stained-glass windows shiver." (ibid.)

Carved wood, stone hall, stained glass - Anderson shows us how people would build traditions even on an extrasolar colony planet. See also Hermes and Avalon.

Literary References

Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606.

I am carefully rereading a text, this time trying to understand every obscure or esoteric reference.

"'...remind me and I'll tell you about Jenkin's Ear. Nations on the brink don't need a large push to send them toppling." (Chapter XI, p. 485)

"'Trohdwyr would like a toast to his manes, wouldn't he?'" (Chapter XII, p. 489)

"'Hindsight is always keen, isn't it, while foresight stays myopic, astigmatic, strabismic, and drunk.'" (Chapter XI, p. 482)

"He drew on a cigaret, rolled acridity over his tongue and streamed it out his nostrils, as if this mordant would give reality a fast hold on him." (Chapter XII, p. 503)

(Apparently, "cigaret" is dated. I was not familiar with "mordant" as a noun.)

Two gas giants in the Zorian System are called "Svarog" and "Perun." (Chapter XIII, p. 512)

"'I was the Fabian this time, not you.'
"'The what? ...Never mind.'" (Chapter XIV, p. 523)

Describing War

Writers of war fiction describe human devastation that some might like to read about but that no one would want to experience. In SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Nine, cast steel globes whistle through the air:

"Where they struck men and horses splashed, and the metal globes went bounding and tumbling along the ground for scores of yards, breaking legs like matchsticks." (p. 187)

We appreciate Stirling's descriptive skills if not also the kind of event described here. Another example:

"Close up [the napalm] would be clinging fire spattering in all directions, horses with their manes on fire, burning gobbets taking off a man's face or running down under his armor while he rolled and screamed and beat at himself with blackened hands." (p. 189)

Poul Anderson made clear that war was horrific but spared us this kind of intense detail, I think. See Experience Of War and Real War.

Two points of linguistic interest in this chapter:

a new coinage, "...bossmandoms...," (p. 191);
"...switch-hitters..." (p. 193) apparently means bisexuals.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Eclectic Theology

In SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Ten, Frederick Thurston utters the most eclectic invocation that I have ever read. If I may rewrite his words as a list, Fred says:

"'May the -

philosophical consolation
or lucky rabbit's foot -

- of your choice be with you.'" (p. 195)

Five options there. And Fred means, if you can think of a sixth option, go for it. Fred himself remembers:

"...a bridge sparkling with color..." (p. 203) -

- and prays to Odin.

Emberverse Theology
A benign consciousness that originated in an earlier universe now guides the biological and spiritual evolution of the current universe.
It can manifest to human beings as any deity or rabbit's foot that they have ever imagined.
Therefore, when Fred prays to Odin, he really addresses It.

Possible? Scary.

Quick Learners

There are two kinds of learning: experiential/practical and formal/didactic. Manse Everard makes this distinction here.

Most basically, we learn to speak a language both because we are genetically programmed to do so and because we are surrounded from birth by people speaking to and about us. We are supposed to pick up a lot of knowledge about social interactions and how the world works in the same sort of way but not all of us are equally good at this!

Nicholas van Rijn, David Falkayn and Dominic Flandry learn quickly and soon are able to operate effectively in the world as they find it.

"'And I thought I was your first,' she said.
"'Why, Persis!' he grinned.
"'I felt so - and every minute this evening you knew exactly what you were doing.'"
-Poul Anderson, Ensign Flandry IN Anderson, Young Flandry (Riverdale, NY, 2010), pp. 1-192 AT Chapter Nine, p. 87.

"[Abrams'] aide, Flandry, looked alert; but he was young and very junior." (Chapter Ten, p. 94)

"[Flandry] grew conscious, then, of what power meant, how it worked. You kept the initiative. The other fellow's instinct was to obey, unless he was trained in self-mastery. But you dared not slack off the pressure for a second. Hauksberg slumped in his seat and gave no trouble." (Chapter Thirteen, p. 136)

"'Commander,' [Brechdan Ironrede] said, 'your young man makes me proud to be a sentient creature. What might our united races not accomplish? Hunt well.'" (Chapter Fourteen, p. 145)

"...[Kossara] sensed alertness beneath [Flandry's] relaxed manner."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT Chapter IV, p. 392.

Alert and learning throughout life.

How The Terran Empire Might Go Wrong

See The Imperial Gardener and The Widow Of Georgios by Sean M. Brooks.

"'Does Molitor imagine we'll never get another Olaf or Josip on the throne?' the Gospodar rumbled. 'A clown or a cancer...and, once more, Policy Board, Admiralty, civil service bypassed, or tyrannized, or corrupted. If we rely on the Navy for our whole defense, what defense will we have against future foolishness or tyranny? Let the foolishness go too far, and we'll have no defense at all.'
"'Doesn't he speak about preventing any more civil wars?' Kossara ventured.
"Bodin spat an oath. 'How much of a unified command is possible, in practical fact, on an interstellar scale? Every fleet admiral is a potential warlord. Shall we keep nothing to stand against him?' He stopped. His fist thudded on a rail."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT p. 408.

They nearly do have another Olaf on the throne because, later, Olaf Magnusson tries to overthrow Gerhart! But we gather that there was an Emperor Olaf - and that he was a clown?

A bad Emperor can bypass, tyrannize or corrupt the Policy Board, the Admiralty and the civil service; a fleet admiral can become a warlord. The Pax is precarious.

Survival And Adaptation

Skilfully, SM Stirling makes his Emberversers remind themselves and thus also us of family relationships and tribal alliances, which have become complicated since the Change.This series, like Poul Anderson's Maurai History, The Winter Of The World and Twilight World and like Stirling's own The Peshawar Lancers, is a tribute to the human capacity to survive and adapt in the face of adversity.

Emberversers must respond not only to material impoverishment but also to new direct interventions by beings like Odin, the Triple Goddess and the Virgin Mary. Many believe that we already inhabit such a world of divine interventions but I differentiate, with the flaming sword of Manjushri, between imagination (mythology and fantasy) and intellect (philosophy and science). I want to know more both about the gods in the Emberverse and about the one transcendent reality that is here and now - although the latter requires a third faculty: intuition (meditation and wisdom).

A Few More Details

Flandry's FTL spaceship, the Hooligan, leaves Earth on primary drive, with its internal grav-field compensating for the acceleration, then, at a safe distance from the Sun, goes into secondary drive. Thus, "secondary" means hyperdrive.

Kit wears:

"...a bracelet of Old Martian silver..."
-Poul Anderson, "Hunters of the Sky Cave" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 149-301 AT Chapter VIII, p. 205.

We know that the Mars of the Technic History has been colonized by extrasolar aliens and would like to know more about "Old Martian."

I seem to have missed Chives' "'...spiced meatballs...'" in previous food lists. (A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Sir Dominic Flandry, pp. 339-606 AT Chapter IV, p. 398)

A slave dealer's medic runs "'...complete cytological analyses.'" (Chapter V, p. 405) Flandry refers to "'Coprolite-brained characters...'" (ibid.) I needed to google both words.

Reading Poul Anderson is an endless education.

Collecting Holmes, Bond And Flandry

Although Sherlock Holmes has been collected in a single bulky volume, a three volume collection would be appropriate:

Vol I, the original series, ending at Reichenbach;
Vol II, two novels written later but set earlier;
Vol III, the Return, incorporating all three later collections.

James Bond has a very similar structure:

Vol I, five novels from the introduction of Bond and SMERSH to Bond's apparent death at the hands of SMERSH;
Vol II, two intermediate novels and nine short stories;
Vol III: five novels about the struggle againsst Blofeld and its aftermath.

Dominic Flandry also needs three volumes:

Vol I, Young Flandry, the three novel prequel;
Vol II, Captain Flandry, the original series;
Vol III, Admiral Flandry, the concluding three novels.

Flandry, of course, is part of Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization which requires a further four omnibus collections.

Flandry And Kit

Dominic Flandry tells Catherine Kittredge:

"'...I've no illusions about my own class either, or my own way of life. You frontier people are the healthy ones. You'll be around - most of you - long after the Empire is a fireside legend.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Hunters of the Sky Cave" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 149-301 AT Chapter VIII, p. 206.

Flandry strengthens certain planets in the hope that they will survive the Empire and some do. See here. I like the idea of the Empire as a fireside legend. That suggests a later sub-series in which raconteurs round a fire retell the Flandry stories, including "Hunters of the Sky Cave," in legendary form.

We have got into finding passages about Flandry's good eating and drinking so here is another. When Flandry announces captain's dinner:

"'Very good, sir,' said Chives. 'I took it upon myself to bring along some live Maine lobster. And I trust the Liebfraumilch '51 will be satisfactory?'" (Chapter VIII, p. 204)

Flandry explains to Kit that Shalmuans have more sensitive palates and cannot go wrong on vintages. (It should make a difference that Chives is extraterrestrial and is not just Jeeves with green skin.)

Regarding spiritual/philosophical questions, a friend recommended Mooji.

Friday, 11 August 2017

High Living In The Future

Chives will serve a tournedos that will require a red wine and he recommends the Chateau Falkayn '35, not Flandry's suggestion of a Beaujolais. (Chives also suggests that drinking and smoking cease until the meal is ready.) Thus, here is a further indirect reference back to the days of the Polesotechnic League. (See reference to "Ansa," here.)

David Falkayn -

saviour of Merseia;
saviour of Technic civilization;
discoverer of Mirkheim;
founder of Supermetals;
Founder of Avalon -

- must be the greatest hero of the League.

The Mayor Palatine of Britain owns Catalina, has built a lodge on its heights and has lent the lodge to Dominic Flandry who, sitting on a terrace of the lodge, sees and senses a summer evening:

shadowy land;
a bay;
the vast, calm Pacific;
a cool breeze;
scents of rose and Buddha's cup;
sky ranging from amethyst to silver-blue;
stars twinkling forth;
sunset glow on contrails;
quiet -

- "Traffic was never routed near the retreats of noblemen."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT Chapter I, p. 355.

(Life is good for noblemen.)

I thought that Buddha's cup was a name given to an extraterrestrial plant. Was I mistaken or has this plant, like Livewell, been imported to Earth?

Is Dominic Flandry A Gourmet?

Flandry dines well because he is a Terran aristocrat and is served by Chives but is he himself a gourmet? See here.

When Flandry and his son dine in elegance beneath the rings of Saturn on Iapetus with expensive and expert women, their attention is on their surroundings and their companions at least as much as on their dinner. However, there is another occasion when the menu is perhaps more important:

"Three, count 'em, three gorgeous girls, ready and eager to help me celebrate my birth week, starting tomorrow at Everest House with a menu I spent two hours planning..."
-Poul Anderson, The Rebel Worlds IN Anderson, Young Flandry (Riverdale, NY, 2010), pp. 367-518 AT p. 380.

(Maybe such a passage partly excuses the Baen Books cover of Young Flandry?)

When Flandry dines with Catherine Kittredge, he says:

"'I prescribe this before dinner: Ansan aurea. Essentially, it's a light dry vermouth, but for once a non-Terran soil has improved the flavor of a Terran plant.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Hunters of the Sky Cave" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 149-301 AT pp. 205-206.

- which is interesting because Nicholas van Rijn, definitely a gourmet, likes onion soup a la Ansa. See here.

CS Lewis And Ian Fleming

What do CS Lewis and Ian Fleming have in common? The fact that both can be compared with Poul Anderson:

Anderson's Dominic Flandry is comparable to Fleming's James Bond;

other Anderson characters address the same theological problems as Lewis' Ransom.

And we have also seen that many other diverse authors are equally comparable to Anderson, e.g., in historical fiction, alternative history, detective fiction, sociological extrapolation and cosmological speculation.

Lewis and Fleming in particular are remarkably dissimilar. However, Anderson's breadth of vision and imagination encompasses both a hedonistic secret agent and the ultimate questions about God and evil.

On that inspiring note, I must stop posting for a while!

Marius Of Marseilles


Marius is important in history and in Poul Anderson's fiction. What I had not known was that "Marius" is also apparently a typical French name. Ian Fleming deploys that fact to comic effect:

"There was a stage-type Marseilles taxi-driver to meet Bond, the archetype of all Mariuses, with the face of a pirate and the razor-sharp badinage of the lower French music-halls."
-Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (London, 1965), Chapter 23, p. 202.


"...his name turned out in fact to be Marius..." (ibid.) (!)

Another comical encounter with another taxi-driver highlights a point about former enemies (see here and here):

"Bond hired a taxi, and he and the taxi-man, who had been a Luftwaffe pilot during the war and was proud of it, tore round the town together..." (Chapter 26, p. 231)

Bond looks for and buys an engagement ring. Then:

"...the two men went off to celebrate at the Franziskaner Keller, where they ate mounds of Weisswurst and drank four steins of beer each and swore they wouldn't ever fight each other again." (ibid.)

More seriously, an observation about former enemies had been made earlier:

"...the memories of ancient enemies, the French, the Dutch, the Spaniards, even the Americans. All gone, all friends now with one another." (Chapter 20, p. 181)

But, of course, Bond goes on to think about "...the enemies of today..." (ibid.) and the world has changed again since Bond's "today." So I hope that Earth will be one in a science fictional future and not just to fight Merseians!

Deaths In Fiction

Because the heroes and heroines of action-adventure fiction usually survive improbable odds, it is particularly shocking when such a character is unexpectedly killed in action. Examples are:

Kossara Vymezal in Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series;
Tracy Bond in Ian Fleming's James Bond series;
Mike Havel and Astrid Loring in SM Stirling's Emberverse series.

Such a death, when it does occur, usually happens at or near the end of a volume and is a significant event for the series as a whole. Astrid's death, occurring off stage between chapters, seems to be an exception to this.

Kossara's death should have been expected. We had been told that Flandry would not get the woman that he really wanted and events so far had borne that out. Nevertheless, Kossara's death by violence while addressing the Dennitzan Parliament was devastating.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Superior Villains

(Dig that cover!)

Poul Anderson's most intriguing continuing villains are the time travelling Merau Varagan and the telepathic Aycharaych. Tachwyr the Dark is merely Dominic Flandry's opposite number, not very villainous.

SM Stirling's Count Ignatieff and others surpass Anderson's villains for sheer evil.

Ian Fleming surpasses Anderson and Stirling by presenting almost one new larger than life villain for each new novel. Even when Blofeld returns, he has a new alias and a new exotic headquarters - in Paris, on an Alp, in a Japanese Castle of Death - each time.

My advice:

read or reread all three authors;
read the Time Patrol series, the Technic History and the James Bond series in chronological order;
start Stirling with The Peshawar Lancers or Conquistador.

It is after 9:00 PM and I now resolve not to post again until tomorrow AM. I will go out and maybe visit the Gregson Centre.


Perhaps every fictional series should have a Christmas story - or a Jewish etc equivalent? I can cite three prominent examples:

in Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" (see here);
in Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, "The Season of Forgiveness";
in Ian Fleming's James Bond series, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

There are other Christmas stories but are they parts of series?
There are other series but do they have Christmas stories?
Now blog readers can tell me what I have missed.

Flandry And Bond: Exercise And Food

"He had loathed calisthenics more in every year of his sixty-one. But they had given him a quickly responive body in his youth, and it was still trim and tough beyond anything due to gero treatments."
-Poul Anderson, A Stone In Heaven IN Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 1-188 AT Chapter III, p. 29.

"Reluctantly [Bond] proceeded to a quarter of an hour of knee-bends and press-ups and deep-breathing chest-expansions..."
-Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (London, 1965), Chapter 11, p. 99.

Loathing and reluctance but necessity. Anderson can use "gero treatments" to keep Flandry active over sixty whereas Fleming must revise Bond's fictional biography to keep him under sixty.

"James Bond was not a gourmet." (Chapter 2, p. 23)

I think that Flandry is but can anyone pin this down with a quote?

Two Actors

In his third novel, Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry has changed his face and keeps the new face for the rest of the series. Therefore, two actors should play the role in any series of screen adaptations.

In Thunderball, Blofeld is described to the reader but not yet seen by Bond. However, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond has seen Blofeld's file and thinks, wrongly, that the Comte de Bleuville cannot possibly be the same man. Therefore, again, I think that a change of actor would be appropriate. This raises the possibility, if only in my mind, that the second Blofeld is an impostor.

Fantasy and sf offer more opportunities for rationalizing a change of actor/change of appearance in a character. I think that Flandry and Blofeld are two instances where a change of actor is not only acceptable but even obligatory.

Reading Other Languages

We read novels written in our own language but have to remember that not all the characters speak it. Maybe, if a novel is set in contemporary Europe, then the text should show dialogue in French, German, Swedish etc, translated in footnotes? Even better, each of us would be well educated enough to read and understand other languages! I argued here that, in any screen adaptations of Poul Anderson's works, we should hear characters speaking Temporal, Anglic, Eriau, Planha etc. In the first edition of James Blish's Doctor Mirabilis, an entire philosophical discussion was presented in medieval Latin. CS Lewis presents interesting Latin dialogue with footnotes in That Hideous Strength:

"'Magister Merline...Sapientissime Britonum, secreti secretorum possessor...'
"'Master Merlin...wisest of the Britons, possessor of the secret of secrets...'"
-CS Lewis, The Hideous Strength IN Lewis, The Cosmic Trilogy (London, 1990), pp. 349-753 AT p. 626.Chapter 12 -

- but Lewis tells us very few words of the Great Tongue, the Solar language:

"...the language spoken before the Fall and beyond the Moon...Language herself, as she first sprang at Maleldil's bidding out of the molten quicksilver of the star called Mercury on Earth, but Viritrilbia in Deep Heaven." (Chapter 10, p. 587)

Lewis adds that, in Solar, the meanings of sounds are not arbitrary but inherent. Impossible. Lewis was a Platonist. Allow me to comment that there is no such "Language."

Back down to Earth, in more ways than one, Ian Fleming gives us a few sentences in European languages -

Corsican dialect:

"'Ecco u Capu. Avette nuttizie di Blofeld, Ernst Stavro? Duve sta?...Site sigura? Ma no ezzatu indirizzu?...Buon. Sara tutto.'"
-Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (London, 1965), Chapter 5, p. 53.


"Wir bitten hoflichst um Entschuldigung!" (Chapter 6, p. 56)

"'Alles in Ordnung?'
"'Also hor zu! Wir kommen fur den Englander in zehn Minute. Verstanden?'
"'Is' recht.'
"'Also, auf passen. Ja?'
"'Zu Befehl!'" (Chapter 16, p. 148)

Turning back from Blish, Lewis and Fleming to Anderson, I wish now that we had comparable information about the languages spoken in the Time Patrol and Technic History timelines.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Fictional "Scriptures"

Poul and Karen Anderson's The King Of Ys describes a major change for Europeans and their Gods. See here.

Poul Anderson's The Earth Book Of Stormgate is a compilation of texts recounting the history of a people and their settlement of a new world. See Other Scriptures and Reinterpreting Texts.

SM Stirling's Emberverse series begins with a pivotal Change that transforms not only human life but also human-divine interactions.

Thus, maybe these are three sets of fictional scriptures?

Speaking Other Languages II

The Sword of the Lady gives its bearer command of tongues, even including new words and grammar consistent with those parts of the Elvish language that Tolkien had invented and recorded. Well, "tongues" is meant to be a divine gift. However, googling reveals that glossolalia is not linguistic and that xenoglossia is unconfirmed. I had thought that glossolalia had more linguistic structure than it appears to have. On the other hand, SM Stirling's Emberverse is part of a narrative where divine apparitions and related phenomena demonstrably occur so maybe it does make sense that the High King has this linguistic gift?

The opposite effect, the confounding of tongues, is prominent in the story of the Tower of Babel and, following that, in Volume III of CS Lewis' Ransom Trilogy:

"'Qui Verbum Dei contempserunt, eis auferetur etiam verbum hominis.'
"They that have despised the word of God, from them shall the word of man also be taken away."
-CS Lewis, That Hideous Strength IN Lewis, The Cosmic Trilogy (London, 1990), pp. 349-753 AT Chapter 16, p. 718.

Lewis' contributions and commentaries deserve wider recognition. 

Speaking Other Languages


"'Iston peded i phith i aniron, a nin u-cheniathog'" -

- is Sindarin for:

"I can say what I want and you can't understand me..."
-SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Six, p. 125.

I have some very limited experience of conversing in an artificial language. Noticing that a guy was wearing the green star (la stelo verda) of Esperanto, I managed -

Me: Cu vi parolas Esperanton? (Do you speak Esperanto?)
Him: Jes, jes, flue. Kaj vi? (Yes, yes, fluently. And you?)
Me: Ne! Ne flue! (No! Not fluently.)

On another occasion, someone said:

"Ci tio estas mea amikino. Si ne comprenas Esperanton do mi povas diri kion mi volas!"

"This is my girl friend. She doesn't understand Esperanto so I can say what I want!"

And that's it for my knowledge of Esperanto.

London Remembered

There is quite a lot about London on this blog, mainly in connection with Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series. This is what James Bond remembers when he has returned from Crab Key to Jamaica and will soon return home:

tennis courts
lily ponds
kings and queens
people photographed with pigeons on their head in Trafalgar Square
forsythia bazing on bypass roundabouts
his housekeeper brewing tea
the first tube trains shaking the cool, dark bedroom in his flat off the King's Road
the douce English weather

Bond contrasts all this with hot wind, marsh gas, dead coral and black crabs. In Anderson's Time Patrol series, we appreciate, among many other details, Everard's and Whitcomb's hansom cab journey through London in 1894. See here. In the James Bond novels, we appreciate Fleming's detailed and colourful observations of life in the 1950s.