Sunday, 9 April 2017

Cosmic Crises

To conclude a line of thought, rereading the previous post and its combox, I deduce that Poul Anderson's works contain:

two appearances by Holmes and Watson;
two descendants of Holmesian characters, Holmes himself and Moriarty;
two extraterrestrial counterparts of Holmes, a Martian and a Hoka.

This is the kind of symmetry that I notice and that the author was unaware of.

To move forward, I am reading more widely and as always reflecting on Poul Anderson's place in the scheme of things. It is usually possible to find a connection with his works. I have stumbled on the major theme of cosmic crises which might require more than one post. My treatment of it will be "divided into three parts" (see here):

(i) works by other authors;
(ii) works by Anderson;
(iii) an explanation of how this theme arose.

(i) The cosmos is routinely threatened in comic books (see here) but what happens in prose fantasy and sf?

James Blish's Black Easter ends with Armageddon but this seems to be a merely Terrestrial affair. In the sequel, the fortress of Dis manifests in Death Valley and Satan, now God, consults the human magicians who had intitiated Armageddon.  Blish's Cities in Flight ends with a collision between the matter and anti-matter universes: definitely (multi-)cosmic.

(ii) Poul Anderson's Tau Zero encompasses cosmic collapse but only because, thanks to time dilation, the characters live that long. The collapse does not happen in their normal lifetimes. A threat to the cosmos is envisaged in Starfarers (see here).

To Be Continued.

11 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    The illustration you chose interests me. From a German translation of PA's Time Patrol stories?

    I've been combing thru "The Queen Of Air And Darkness" trying to find out where and how Eric Sherrinford said he was somehow related to a legendary private inquiry agent resembling Sherlock Holmes. While I know SF and mystery writers like to speculate about the Great Detective having descendants, the canonical stories gives us no indication of the bachelor Holmes ever marrying and having children. But I don't object to such speculations!

    Sean

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    1. Sean,
      It is German but the image came up when I googled STARFARERS.
      I am pretty sure Sherrinford refers to his ancestor.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Well, we do know Sherlock Holmes had at least one brother, Mycroft. Maybe HE was the ancestor of Eric Sherrinford! (Smiles)

      Sean

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    3. Sean,
      Check this post: "The Queen Of Air And Darkness IV," Friday, 27 July 2012.
      Paul.

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    4. Kaor, Paul!

      Thanks! I did, and found the text about Eric Sherrinford's family that I was looking for. It's on page 25 of the Gregg Press collection THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS. Eric Sherrinford said of his family: "However, we also claimed collateral descent from one of the first private inquiry agents on record, back on Earth before spaceflight. Regardless of how true that may be, I found him a useful model."

      Looks I might be right thinking Eric thought himself a descendant of Mycroft Holmes, and COLLATERALLY descended from Sherlock. But, note the hint of skepticism in him saying "Regardless of how true that may be..." Meaning Sherrinford was not absolutely sure how true that family tradition was.

      It's rather fun poring over such obscure details and indulging in scholastic analysis of the texts!

      Sean

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  2. Paul and Sean:
    That illustration is a reuse of a cover picture Michael Whelan did for Anne McCaffrey's *Killashandra*, and depicts the title character. So it doesn't have particular applicability to any Poul Anderson story, and is like illustrating *Ensign Flandry* with "Colonial Vipers" from *Battlestar Galactica* because Flandry piloted a one-man craft shortly before the start of the story.

    As for the title "Welten-Wanderer," "Wanderer" is a cognate, and "Welten" is the plural of "world," thus "Wanderer [or Traveler, Journeyer, Voyager, etc.] of Worlds." Which doesn't match one-to-one to any PA title I can think of.

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    1. David,
      Thank you. I have had this problem with recycled cover illustrations more than once before - and drew attention to it in the case of THE SNOWS OF GANYMEDE.
      WELTEN-WANDERER seems to be a translation of STARFARERS.
      Paul.

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    2. David,
      I remember publishing a post showing a cover of THE SNOWS OF GANYMEDE and the cover of another book with the same illustration. However, I have not found that post by searching the blog for THE SNOWS OF GANYMEDE. Since then, I have scrolled through one month, January 2016, but not found it. Strange.
      Paul.

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    3. Kaor, DAVID!

      Thanks for your comments. Rather disappointing, that cover illo having nothing to do with any of PA's works. Unless, as Paul suggested, WELTEN WANDERER is a German translation of STARFARERS.

      Sean

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    4. Sean:
      Well, yes, the situation is evidently that a German publisher used an unrelated illustration for the cover of an Anderson book, which Paul suspects is *Starfarers*. That sort of thing happens when a publisher is in too much of a hurry -- and/or too miserly -- to commission new art or get the rights to the old.

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    5. I found the post with the same cover on 2 books: "Some Details In Three Future Histories," Tuesday, 27 January 2017.

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