Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Continuing Comparisons

Poul Anderson, "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, NY, 2006), pp. 333-465.

SM Stirling, The High King Of Montival (New York, 2009).

Anderson's Alawin wants to join the attack on Ermanaric but the Wanderer tells him both that he is too young and that he has another, harder, stranger task. Stirling's Mark Vogeler wants to enlist in the war against the Church Universal and Triumphant but Rudi Mackenzie shows him that he is too young and makes him his uncle's aide/military apprentice. In both of these stories, an older man teaches and prepares a younger one.


"...some had scale-mail shirts rather than chain-mail ones..."
High King, Chapter Sixteen, p. 338.

"...they'd seen the elephant..." (op. cit., p. 341)

A phrase that I had not encountered before.

"'...emptying the honey-bucket.'" (op. cit., p. 346)



When we first see the Wanderer, he is tall, holding a spear, wearing a face-shading broad-brimmed hat, has "...wolf-gray hair and beard..." and there is a gleam in his gaze.
-"Sorrow," 372, p. 339.

Carl Farness, Time Patrolman, is in the process of becoming one manifestation of the mythical Odin. By referring to "...gaze...," Anderson avoids acknowledging that, at this stage, the Wanderer still has two eyes.

The first time the Goths of 300 AD saw Carl:

"...they took him for a mere gangrel..." (op. cit., 300, p. 348)

Indeed: Gangleri.

Recruited to the Time Patrol in 1980, Carl settles with his wife in 1930's New York, believing as he does that US society does not begin to disintegrate quickly and obviously until "...after the 1964 election." (op. cit., 1935, p. 343) We may infer that this is also the author's opinion.

Pre-Patrol, Carl had written papers on Deor and Widsith. (op. cit., 1980, p. 354) and had admired Herbert Ganz's 1853 paper on the Gothic Bible. Ganz recruits Carl to the Patrol. In 1858, Carl reports to Ganz that, in the fourth century, he has recorded poems that may be ancestral to Widsith and Walthere. (op. cit., 1858, p. 404) I can't find Walthere. These are details that we usually rush past when reading but all this historical knowledge is present in the background of Anderson's fiction.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm not sure if Poul Anderson ever used terms like "seen the elephant" or "honey-bucket." I'm inclined to think not. But I am familiar with them from other writers using them, such as Harry Turtledove.

The connotation I get from "gangrel" is that it means a wandering vagrant with no fixed means of support. Equivalent to terms like "bum," or "street person."

And, I agree with Poul Anderson, the US (and the West in general) started making many turns for the worse in the 1960's.

"Walthere" is one detail I've not heard of! Either it's very obscure indeed or Anderson invented it for the purposes of his story.