Thursday, 17 August 2017

In Zorkagrad

Streets are lined with mostly Terran trees - oak, elm, beech, maple.

A demonstration of Mersians/ychani/zmayi marches in battle formation, armed with knives, tridents, harpoons and guns. Formidable, indeed. Quiet and unexcited, unlike human demonstrators, they carry two banners:

the white star on blue of Yovan Matavuly, the human founder of the Dennitzan colony;

the red ax on gold of Gwyth, the ychan hero who dared the storms and sea beasts of the Black Ocean.

Merseians walk digitigrade. They pass:

private homes and condominiums unprotected by forcefields and vacated during the emergency;
militia squads patrolling to prevent looting;
older, higher, close-packed buildings on narrow uphill streets;
red tile roofs;
stucco walls;
midget factories;
a bulbous-domed parish church;
a few big stores;
scores of tiny eccentric shops;
detouring groundcars.

A fighter craft passes low. Merseian marchers, unlike their human equivalents, are able to convey information accurately. The word is that the streets are quiet because direct action by Dennitzan citizens has rounded up Terrans and other Imperials into certain buildings in response to the arrest of the Gospodar. The Zamok/Castle/executive centre has denounced the action as illegal and deployed police but has not yet responded with force.

In several novels, including A Knight..., Anderson conveys the sense of "troubled times" extremely effectively.

Meeting In Person

(A sculpture of a religious founder at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.)

Flandry: "God damn it, why does your parliament have to meet in person? You've got holocom systems. Your politicians could send and receive images...and we could've rigged untraceable methods to call them and give them the facts last night.'"
-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 XVII, p. 550.

(Flandry and Kossara risk assassination by attending the Parliament.)

Kossara: "'Hush, darling...You know why. Electronics will do for ornamental relics. The Shkoptsina is alive, it debates and decides real things, the members need intimacies, subtlties, surprises.'" (pp. 550-551)

Recently, an American scientist spoke on climate change in a building at SOAS (see image). He was asked why he had flown to London instead of Skyping. He replied that, if a conference wants him merely to address an audience, then he Skypes but, if there is the possibility of networking and bridge-building, then he flies because it is a long way to walk.

On Avalon And Dennitza

Avalon is an extrasolar planet jointly colonized by human beings and Ythrians. We should not say "Terrans and Ythrians" because the Founder, David Falkayn, was Hermetian and his fellow colonists included children of an Altaian. Dennitza is an extrasolar planet colonized by Serbian Terrans who later welcomed Merseian immigrants.

On Avalon, there is a Parliament of Man and a High Khruath of all the choths. Many human beings join choths and live under Ythrian law and custom. Some Ythrians adopt the human lifestyle of atomic individuals in a global community and, I imagine, are represented in Parliament. A Khruath, i.e., a periodic meeting of all free adults in a given territory, has judicial and limited legislative but no administrative authority. The planetary High Khruath meets every six years or on extraordinary occasions.

On Dennitza, there is a tricameral Parliament, the Shkoptsina, with Houses of the Lords, the Folk and the Zmayi (Merseians) although Mersians also retain their traditional Vachs. A Vach is not ruled by a Head but served by a Hand.

"'The Shkoptsina's no controlled inner-Empire congress. It's about five hundred proud individuals, speaking for as many different proud sections of land or walks of life. It's often turbulent - fights have happened, yes, a few killings - and tomorrow it'll be wild.'"
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominc Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT Chapter XVI, pp. 548-549.

"'Ychani" is the Eriau name for Dennitzan Merseians:

"'Ychani have always been the Peculiar People of Dennitza. The House of the Zmayi has never entirely spoken for them; it's a human invention.'" (p. 550)

Occasionally, hundreds of Merseians have marched into the Chamber and demanded that their leaders be heard. More like a Khruath?

The Obala IV

See The Obala III.

"Clouds and a loud raw wind had blown in across the ocean."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), Chapter XVI, pp. 339-606 AT p. 539.

Obalans see clouds move over ocean and hear and feel wind.

"Morning along the Obala, the east coast of Rodna, was winterlike, sky the color of lead, sea the colors of iron and gunmetal. But neither sky nor sea was quiet. Beneath the overcast a thin smoky wrack went flying; surf cannonaded and exploded on reefs and beaches." (pp. 539-540)

There is also a fourth sense:

"The air smelled of salt and distance." (p. 540)

Salt, yes. Distance? The air smelled as if it had blown a long way?

Indoors, there are again four senses:

"Inside the home of Ywodh were warmth, sun-imitating fluorescents, musky odor of bodies, growls to drown out the piping at the windows." (ibid.)

We learn that Obalan fishers sometimes net "'...flailfish.'" (p. 541)

Ywodh is Hand of the Vach Anochrin on the Obala;
Kyrwedhin is Hand of the Vach Mannoch on the Obala and a member of the House of the Zmayi;
Korvash is Hand of the Vach Rueth on Merseia;
Lazar Ristich is voivode of Kom Kutchi and a member of the House of the Lords;
Bodin Miyatovich is Gospodar of Dennitza.

A wealth of details, both geographical and political.

A Theological Issue

I think that Christian premises entail universalist conclusions. If an omnipotent creator creates from nothing my character and environment, then He creates all the interactions between that character and that environment and these interactions include my actions. Thus, He can predetermine my actions so that those actions eventually lead to my acceptance of salvation. This is not to argue that God's foreknowledge (more accurately, His transtemporal knowledge) predetermines my actions. It is to argue that His creation of my character and environment determines my actions. A child can have free will in relation to his parents if they let him do what he wants but he cannot have free will in relation to his omnipotent creator Who causes him to want what he wants and Who could have caused him to want, and therefore to do, something else. 
-copied from here.

The above paragraph is part of my philosophical response to a theological issue that arises periodically when discussing works of fantasy that assume the existence of the Biblical creator and related supernatural entities.

The Obala III

Rereading Poul Anderson's A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, I want to post about the Obala but find already on the blog:

The Obala;
The Obala II;
The Kazan.

Dennitza is a human-colonized extrasolar planet with a Merseian minority;
Dennitzan Merseians mainly inhabit the Obala, the east coast of the Rodna continent;
Khywedhin is moot-lord of the steadcaptains of the Obala;
the Elena River flows from the Kazan to the Obala.

I will carefully reread A Knight..., Chapter XVI, in search of any information not already summarized in the above posts.

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.

("...vilya..." recalls "vilja.")

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.