Saturday, 8 August 2015


(In a fantasy world not too distant from Poul Anderson's, Death of the Endless answers the telephone.)

"...Neil Gaiman's stories in The Sandman descend concentrically though a narrative maze to a room at the center, where you expect to find a confessional and instead step into a veldt that stretches as far as the eye can see."
-Steve Erickson, Introduction IN Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Dream Country (New York, 1995), pp. 7-9 AT p. 8.

This is equally true of Poul Anderson's texts. Both the Technic History and the Time Patrol invite multiple rereadings, resembling a concentric descent that you think will end at a central point with nowhere further to go whereas, instead, a single word or phrase prompts new reflections or perspectives like "...a veldt that stretches as far as the eye can see." Phoenician inventions and visitors to Tyre were recent discoveries.

Another example, in "Ivory, And Apes, And Peacocks," is:

"Far and far away, a sail passed by. It could have been driving the ship of Odysseus." (Time Patrol, p. 326)

Thus, the events that were the source of Homer's second epic might be occurring concurrently with Manse Everard's mission to Tyre in 950 BC. Thus, this Time Patrol installment alludes to a Classical text, as also to the Biblical Solomon on p. 240. There are several other literary references:

"Star Of The Sea" refers to Tacitus' Annals, Histories and Germania;

"The Sorrow Of Odin The Goth" reconstructs the events behind a story in the Eddas, the Volsungasaga and the Nibelungenlied;

"Time Patrol" is based on one of Dr Watson's untold cases;

The Shield Of Time alludes to His Last Bow.

Within the Time Patrol series itself:

"Ivory, And Apes, And Peacocks" ends with Everard winding up his stay at King Hiram's palace and The Shield of Time begins with him newly arrived back in New York;

in "Ivory...," Everard's squadron lands on " uninhabited Aegean islet..." (p. 326) and The Shield... recounts a conversation between Everard and his principle prisoner on that islet;

in "The Year Of The Ransom," we are told that Everard takes a couple of hours to outline the truth to Wanda and The Shield... recounts part of that conversation.

We must read carefully if we are to notice connections with other works of literature and also with earler installments of this increasingly complex series.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Besides listing our chief Scandinavian and Germanic sources for the Volsung legends, I think you should have included as well Ammianus Marcellinus' RES GETAE and Jordanes GETICA. Because these are our chief surviving non legendary sources for the Goths. Recall how Poul Anderson had one of the Time Patrol characters in "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" saying how King Ermanaric died was "a matter of record." That is, having Ammianus and Jordanes in mind.


  2. Sean,
    Since I did not know of those texts, we needed you to draw attention to them.

    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I'm surprised you missed the comment in "Sorrow" about how Ermanaric died being "a matter of record"!


  3. I saw it but I didn't draw conclusions!

    1. Kaor, Paul!

      To be fair, I have many times wondered how I could have missed things in Anderson's stories after you pointed them out. (Smiles)


  4. Eric Flint, Dave Freer, and Mercedes Lackey jointly wrote several fantasy novels, collectively *The Heirs of Alexandria*, in an alternate 16th Century: many of the place names are identical even if their geographical borders aren't, and some of the personal names are similar (one of the main good guys is Eneko Lopez, which was part of the birth name of St. Ignatius of Loyola).

    What brought this to mind is that in the second book, another of the heroes takes up with a lovely girl named Swanhild ... and he's helping oppose evil King Emeric of Hungary. I noticed the similarity of names, even though there's twelve hundred years or so between this story and Ermanaric of the Goths, and I thought, "Oh, NO." Unfortunately, it was "yes," at least for poor Swanhild, and the same way, too.

    (The official point of divergence is that Hypatia of Alexandria converted to Christianity and became one of the 4th-Century Church's greatest scholars. And the great Library was NOT destroyed, which is why a lot of knowledge of magic wasn't lost. Christian clergy can be wizards, and in fact one branch of the Church argues that ONLY Christian clergy should be permitted to work magic.)

    1. Hi, David!

      Your comments here interesting and I'll try to respond to them.

      I have read some of Eric Flint's work, mostly in his "1634" series. But I don't think I've read anything by Dave Freer and Mercedes Lackey. And an "alternate" St. Ignatius Loyola would certainly be interesting!

      Ugh! I remember too well the truly awful way poor Swanhild was murdered.

      I know little about Hypatia of Alexandria except that she was a scholarly pagan who was killed, if I remember rightly, in one of the faction battles between Nicene Christians and their Arian opponents.

      As for the Library of Alexandria, what I recalled reading was that it was not destroyed at any single time. Rather, accidents of time and wars caused many books to be lost. Starting as early as the war between Julius Caesar and Ptolemy XII, and ending, I think, with its final disappearance after the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Nor do I think the Library specialized in collecting books of magic.

      And I am extremely skeptical that orthodox Catholics, at least, would have any thing to do with magic. The Church sternly disapproves of magic as being, at best, mere superstition. Both the OT and NT condemns any recourse to magic.

      This is what the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH says about magic in Number 2117: "All practices of magic and sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others--even if this were for the sake of restoring their health--are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity."

      Paul has recently discussed S.M. Stirling's THE PESHAWAR LANCERS. In that book we can see how far men can fall when they turn to the worship and service of evil powers. E.g., the worship of Satan in the Russian Empire and the secret devotees of Kali in the Angrezi Raj.


    2. Sean:

      Well, I said the OFFICIAL point of divergence was Hypatia's conversion, but in fact, there was a divergence millennia or eons earlier, because magic in this alternate world is very demonstrably REAL, not superstition. One of the main adversaries is the demon/god Chernebog ... and he's enslaved and BROKEN the god Odin.

      So in the *HoA* 'verse, it seems the Church saw unambiguous evidence of REAL magic, not just superstition, and decided, "We have to learn to use SANCTIFIED versions of this, or the Evil One will literally eat us alive."

      Eneko Lopez is described as possibly the greatest sacred magician in over a thousand years. I don't think anyone in-story believes that Father Lopez has been corrupted by using magic (some of the villains may try to falsely incriminate him, though).

      The Church, as I mentioned in my previous post, has developed two factions, the Petrine and the Pauline. It's not a true schism; neither seems to consider the other group heretical -- but the Paulines want the Petrines to do as Paulines say, and the Petrines want the Paulines to stop being so pushy.

      The Petrines are also more easy-going in the sense of being willing to join forces with good magicians of other faiths. The Paulines are the ones who want magic-use to be exclusively under Church authority. This is a bit odd, since Paulines don't seem to HAVE a central authority. The Grand Metropolitan of Rome (he isn't called "Pope" here) is Petrine.

    3. Hi, David!

      Thanks for your interesting comments. What you said about the use of sanctified magic reminds me what we see in Poul Anderson's OPERATION CHAOS and OPERATION LUNA. That is, magic is a form of applied science, not an invocation of evil or dubious powers.

      In such a scenario, if it was possible, I can see the Catholic Church taking a more easy going view of magic.