Monday, 18 December 2017

After Or Between

See A Midsummer Tempest X.

Rereading Neil Gaiman's Worlds' End, I again compare Gaiman's Inn at the End of All Worlds with Anderson's inn between the worlds. For some comparisons, see the above link. (Douglas Adams has a Restaurant at the End of the Universe but that is a different kind of place.)

Anderson's Taverners have a charter once granted by some power unknown whereas Gaiman's Indian landlady came to her inn from another journey that still awaits her when she tires of working in the inn. She allows one guest, Charlene Mooney, to stay and work there with the result that, when Charlene's traveling companion returns home, he finds that there is no record of there ever having been a Charlene Mooney. He has returned to a world like the one he left. Maybe Charlene will eventually replace the current landlady.

When the current landlady raises her right arm, the shadow of a left arm appears on the wall behind her. She is, appropriately, the four-armed Kali, Goddess of Destruction. There is devotion to Hindu deities in SM Stirling's Angrezi Raj. See Religious Diversity II and Krishna.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Feelings Of A Time Patrol Operative And A Japanese Empress

"'An operative who had no emotions about the human beings encountered on a mission would be...defective. Worthless, or downright dangerous.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), Part One, p. 5.

"...ninjo, feelings and compassion...that must have its place too, or you become an empty suit of armor that walks and kills, and then a blight upon the world."
-SM Stirling, Prince Of Outcasts (New York, 2017), Chapter Eighteen, p. 378.

History, Holmes And The Hound

This evening, as an alternative to reading or blogging, I watched television for a while and, of course, found something relevant. Tony Robinson of the Time Team which we mentioned here walks through historical Britain (see here) and, in an episode shown this evening, visited Cromer where Sheila and I on holiday two years ago learned something that was directly relevant to Sherlock Holmes and thus indirectly relevant to Poul Anderson's Time Patrol. See here.

Since Holmes exists in the Time Patrol timeline, so must the Hound of the Baskervilles. However, contrary perhaps to some popular misconceptions, this "Hound" is not supernatural. Doyle believed in Spiritualism but kept Holmes scientific and secularist. The Hound Of The Baskervilles is said to be the most often filmed novel and one film version introduces a seance in Baskerville Hall - kind of appropriate in one way though not in another. In any case, the Time Patrol series remains historical sf, not fantasy, and is not tainted with supernaturalism by its inclusion of the Great Detective who debunked the Hound.

The ERBian Dimension II

I do not think that Poul Anderson refers anywhere to ERB? We have listed Old Phoenix guests in:

Guests In The Old Phoenix
Guests In The Old Phoenix II
Guests In The Old Phoenix III
Open To Everything
A Lensman In The Old Phoenix
A Large Gathering In The Old Phoenix
Anonymous Historical Characters
Anonymous Historical Characters II
Anonymous Historical Characters III
Anonymous Historical Characters IV 
The Old Phoenix

- and they did not include Greystoke or Carter etc.

SM Stirling wrote an ERBian pastiche - see A Paxton and the link from it - and this is the sort of thing that Anderson would have done. I have argued that an Andersonian rationale of ERB's absurdities would have been a good idea. See here.

The ERBian Dimension

When we discuss the works of Poul Anderson and of related authors, new portals continually open onto vast vistas of unexplored territory - or onto texts read once decades ago which therefore seem new now.

A passage in Poul Anderson's "House Rule" (see here) reminded me of ERB's The Moon Men, Chapter I, because the latter contains a first person account of an Arctic adventure initially involving Eskimos. However, ERB's narrator had not had a forced landing.

The Moon Men was published in 1925;
Chapter I is set in 1969;
its opening paragraph refers to the "...close of the Great War..." (p. 7) in 1967;
Chapter II begins:

"I was born in the Teivos of Chicago on January 1st, 2100..."
-Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Moon Men (New York, Ace Books, undated), p. 18.

Thus, ERB, like several more recent authors, wrote a future history series:

Heinlein's Future History Volumes I and II cover the period from 1951 to 2000 whereas Volume III is Revolt In 2100;

in James Blish's Chronology of Cities In Flight, 2105 was an agreed arbitrary date for the Fall of the West;

in the Chronology of Anderson's Psychotechnic History, the Solar Union is founded in 2105.

Future histories unfailingly fascinate.


In Poul Anderson's works, a "nexus" can be within a timeline or between universes. At a nexus within a timeline, it is very easy for a time traveler or a quantum fluctuation in space-time-energy to change the entire future. Therefore, the Time Patrol polices these nexuses. At a nexus between universes, inter-cosmic travelers can meet and might gain knowledge that would change the entire futures of their timelines. Therefore, Taverner polices the conversations in his Inn of the Old Phoenix which occupies one such nexus. Thus, there is a conceptual continuity between the mutable timeline of the Time Patrol and the multiple timelines of the Old Phoenix.

There are limits both on how long guests can stay in the Old Phoenix and on how often they can visit it. The narrator of "House Rule" suspects that:

"...the hostel exists on several different space-time levels of its own." (p. 65)

- but I do not know what this means or why it should affect guests' visits.

Anderson's Time Patrol guards a past;
James Blish's Service guards a future;
Taverner guards many pasts and futures.

Thus, one man has a bigger job than two organizations.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Notes On "House Rule"

Poul Anderson, "House Rule" IN Anderson, The Armies Of Elfland (New York, 1992), pp. 64-76.

In this edition, Anderson, introducing the story, tells us that:

"That inn beyond every world, the Old Phoenix, first appeared in my Shakespearean fantasy novel, A Midsummer Tempest." (. 64)

He adds:

"I have returned to it a couple of times and hope to do so again." (ibid.)

A Midsummer Tempest is copyright 1974;
"House Rule" is copyright 1976;
"Losers' Night" is copyright 1991.

These are the only Old Phoenix stories that I know of, which implies that Anderson had not returned to the Old Phoenix before writing "House Rule." (?)

He had hoped to return to it again! The Old Phoenix deserves at least a single volume entirely to itself.

The narrator of "House Rule" had been on "...a flight which had been forced down above the Arctic Circle..." (p. 69), where some Eskimos had been helpful. This does not sound like Poul Anderson but does it sound like an adventure of ERB in the introductory passage of his second Moon book? (I am not going to look that up right now.)

On this occasion in the Old Phoenix:

"The talk was mainly Leonardo's. Given a couple of goblets of wine to relax him, his mind soared and ranged like an eagle in a high wind." (p. 66)

A striking simile. I want to comment on some other aspects of the story but find that I have already done so. See Open To Everything.

Addendum: OK. The Armies Of Elfland is copyright 1992. Thus, when Anderson wrote that he had returned to the Old Phoenix a couple of times, he was referring to "House Rule" and "Losers' Night."

Multiple Andersons

Might the first person narrator of Poul Anderson's two Old Phoenix short stories be identifiable with the author? If so, then he has to be a different Poul Anderson from the one who is related to Robert Anderson in There Will Be Time. Although the single immutable timeline of that novel might be part of a multiverse, it does not interact either with the multiple timelines of the Old Phoenix or with the mutable timeline of the Time Patrol.

Also, if there was a Poul Anderson in the twentieth century of the Time Patrol timeline, then that Anderson cannot have written the Time Patrol series and therefore must have written something else in its place. So how many Poul Andersons are there? Every novel set during its author's lifetime assumes a timeline in which, if the author does exist, he does not write that novel and therefore is a slightly different version of himself.

I am just about to reread "House Rule" because I suspect that it does contain information that differentiates its narrator from its author.

Ways Of Knowing: Tomorrow Is Yesterday

(I referred here to an object passing through the Solar System. Here is a later report.)

How might we learn about multi-dimensional space-time? Our inter-dimensional guides this evening are:

HG Wells;
Robert Heinlein;
James Blish;
CS Lewis;
Poul Anderson;
Neil Gaiman;
SM Stirling.

Wells, Men Like Gods
An experiment in the Utopian timeline transports several Earthlings to Utopia.

Heinlein, "Elsewhen" and Waldo
Thought alone gives access to other universes.

Blish, The Quincunx Of Time and Midsummer Century
After receiving a message about time-projection from 25,000 AD, Thor Wald invents a metalanguage which shows that science cannot choose between future paradigms because it is one of those paradigms.
John Martels falls into a radio telescope of a radically new design with an inconceivable reach, thus prompting the message intercepted by Wald.

CS Lewis, Perelandra and "The Dark Tower"
In Oxford, Lewis reads an early seventeenth century Latin text about the celestial frame of spatial references.
In Cambridge, Lewis and his colleagues observe an alternative Earth through a chronoscope which also becomes the mechanism for an inter-Earth mind transference.

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest
Valeria Matuchek's theorems let her reach the continuum that she wants "'...or a reasonable facsimile of it.'" (Chapter xii, pp. 95-96) whereas Holger Danske has traveled at random, using a "'...superstition-riddled medieval grimoire...,'" (p. 96) so Valeria refers Holger to Sokolnikofff's Introduction to Paratemporal Mathematics and to the Handbook of Alchemy and Metaphysics.

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: The Wake
A reality storm strands travelers in the Inn of the Worlds' End. When they leave, they will return to the worlds from which they came or very similar ones.

SM Stirling, The Peshawar Lancers
A clairvoyant simultaneously experiences multiple alternative presents.

I like the contrasts between:

the radio telescope and the chronoscope;
Wald's Machine language message from 25,000 AD, Lewis' Latin manuscript from the seventeenth century and Valeria's reference books;
Valeria reaching the continuum she wants or a facsimile of it and the Inn guests returning to their worlds or similar ones;
Wald theorizing about multidimensionality and Stirling's Yasmini directly experiencing alternative realities.

The Anthropomorphic Universe

Anthropomorphising human beings have successively imagined:

(i) spirits and gods in the terrestrial environment;
(ii) Selenites, Martians, Venerians, Jovians etc - within the Solar System;
(iii) extrasolar intelligences.

Brian Aldiss suggested somewhere that (iii) are as anthropomorphic and nonexistent as (i) and (ii).

Fantasy writers, Poul Anderson and Neil Gaiman, have imagined supernatural beings withdrawing from Earth, thus explaining their current absence. If they withdrew, then they might return.

In Anderson's Operation Otherworld, magic/"goetic" beings re-Awaken and the Adversary directly addresses Steve Matuchek.

Elwin Ransom tells CS Lewis:

"'When the Bible uses that very expression about fighting with principalities and powers and depraved hypersomatic beings at great heights (our translation is very misleading at that point, by the way) it meant that quite ordinary people were to do the fighting.'"
-CS Lewis, Perelandra IN Lewis, The Cosmic Trilogy (London, 1990), pp. 145-349 AT p. 163.

And the Powers are also reactivated in SM Stirling's Emberverse:

"And there was war in Heaven, John thought with a shiver. It's the same one here, against Principalities and Powers."
-SM Stirling, Prince Of Outcasts (New York, 2017), Chapter Seventeen, p. 336.

But that is fantasy. If we do not expect (i) to return, then do we expect (iii) to arrive, maybe speaking English because radio messages from Earth are detectable throughout an expanding volume of space? I do not expect First Contact in our lifetimes, although I could be proved wrong tomorrow. But, as a generalization from past experience, the future is always very different from whatever has been imagined or predicted.

Even if an alien does speak English, s/he will not share any of our history or even our evolution. We cannot imagine on what basis s/he will communicate with us.