Friday, 24 November 2017

Kinds Of Character Interactions

I don't know what language that is but I have worked out that the title means Midsummer Tempest.

Characters from different genres meet in the Old Phoenix. Analogously, real and fictional characters can meet in fiction although not in reality:

fictional characters, including time travelers, meet historical characters (see Anderson's Time Patrol);
Jack Havig knows Robert Anderson who knows Poul Anderson;
Ian Fleming's G. is fictional but his superior, Serov, who phones for an update, is real;
CS Lewis meets Elwin Ransom;
Mikael Blomkvist meets Paolo Roberto.

I am rereading Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy for a rest from late night blogging but reading about Blomkvist phoning Roberto prompts reflections on kinds of character interactions.

A Conceptual Chasm

There is a conceptual chasm between works of fantasy about mythological beings like Lilith and hard sf in which a moonship returns to Ganymede. Poul Anderson wrote on both sides of that chasm - not specifically about Lilith but certainly about gods, elves etc. There is also a spectrum of imaginative fiction that partially bridges the chasm:

hard sf (Heinlein, Anderson, Niven etc);
soft sf (Bradbury, Simak, Lewis);
Lewis' combination of interplanetary travel and supernatural beings in a single narrative;
Anderson's Old Phoenix Inn where van Rijn from a hard sf series can meet fantasy characters;

Thus, maybe three intermediate categories. Poul Anderson wrote hard sf, the Old Phoenix and fantasy and, in some of his hard sf works, addressed the same theological issues as Lewis. Anderson did not touch soft sf - except maybe in some early pulp mag stories, e.g., "Witch of the Demon Seas." See here.

Lilit II

Please check out the megamultiverse speculations. Inspired by Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series and Old Phoenix sequence and by James Blish's mini-multiverse, I tried to identify those mysterious characters of literature who might just possibly have traveled between universes in order to observe or intervene at crucial moments while keeping themselves in the background. For example, why do the Time Traveler's dinner guests include the Silent Man? Is he a futurian time traveler who wanted to be present at this pivotal conversation but who also kept quiet in order not to risk altering the course of the dialogue as recorded by the outer narrator?

We have found another candidate intercosmic traveler. Lilith interacts with Adam and demons, manages to keep herself (mostly) out of the Bible and yet looms large in Jewish mythology and some modern fantasy. She is mysterious and interacts with powerful beings in more than one time and place - the perfect suspect.


A Jewish man describes an evil place as:

"'An abode of Lilit.'"
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Thirty-One, p. 798.

Is "Lilit" the same as "Lilith"?

We have encountered Lilith on:

this blog here (scroll down);
Personal And Literary Reflections here;
Comics Appreciation here.

Lilith is not big in the Bible but she gets around.

A Meal In A Tent in A Desert

The Crown Princess of Montival and the Empress of Japan find a Jewish community in the desert.

They eat:

chicken soup with dumplings;

grilled lamb and emu with garlic and chilies on steamed semolina;

round risen wheat loaves, dipped in spicy and ground chickpea sauces;

mesquite bean flour, maize-meal and beans with caramelized onions and herbs;

sweet peeled prickly-pear fruit;

small honey-sweetened cakes with dates and pinon nuts -

- and drink:

herb tea;
cooled water;
sweet fruit liqueur.

SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Thirty-One, pp. 787-788.

Stirling always gives us food for thought.

Stochasticism, Not Scholasticism

The blogging process is stochastic. I have no more idea of what is to come than anyone else. (Stochasticism is a philosophical school in James Blish's The Triumph Of Time.)

While swimming here, I got what I thought were Two Good Ideas for posts. I eventually published these two posts, Class Warriors and Self-Reference, although only after thirteen other posts about Poul Anderson's Starfarers. (And, in fact, there had been an earlier Class Warrior.)

After "Self-Reference," there were, among other posts, five more about Starfarers. The fifth, "Jehovah And The Storm Goddess" (see here), compared metaphors in Starfarers and Three Worlds To Conquer, thus leading to, so far, two posts about Three Worlds..., Ganymede and Choice. And I will probably (not definitely) reread Three Worlds..., thus generating a few more posts.

And all this goes back to swimming one morning.


This back cover blurb summarizes a dramatic moment in Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer so I decided to share it before turning in. Fraser is one of those many Anderson heroes that appear just once in a single novel. Someone could compile a list of their names? I had forgotten Fraser's until I reread it.

Who are the heroes of:

Tau Zero;
After Doomsday;
The Corridors Of Time;
The Byworlder;
Twilight World;
Vault Of The Ages;
The Winter Of The World;

There is always more to learn or remember about Anderson's works.


Mountains like teeth;
craters like fortress walls;
long crater shadows on blue-gray plains;
the John Glenn range;
Berkeley Ice Field, sheening amber;
Mare Navium;
Dante Chasm;
the Red Mountains;
the green beacon at Aurora;
rock and ice;
Jupiter above;
unblinking stars in a black sky.

This is how the colonized Ganymede looks to the pilot of a returning moonship on pp. 7-9 of Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer. He thinks of it as home but I would not like to live there.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Jehovah And The Storm Goddess

In Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer, when an Admiral addresses Ganymedean insurrectionists through the main transmitter at full amplitude, his dialogue is capitalized:

-Poul Anderson, Three Worlds To Conquer (London, 1966), Chapter 7, p. 54.

He goes on like that. This is described as "...the Jehovah voice..." (op. cit., p. 55)

In Anderson's Starfarers, when Nivala speaks through an amplifier:

"Her voice rang as loud as the voice of some ancient storm goddess."
-Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999), Chapter 21, p. 199.

I am certainly alone in being reminded of the Jehovah voice by the voice of the storm goddess but this coincidence has refocused my attention on Three Worlds To Conquer which might be a good book to reread. I said here that I had not found the cover of my edition on google but now I have. See image. A search of the blog shows how often I have posted about this novel before, e.g., Hardware and Echoes Of Heinlein. Or: search for the name of the Jovian character, Theor. However, there is always more to be said.


Poul Anderson has three "Sword" titles:

a detective novel;
a historical novel;
a heroic fantasy.

How many kinds of people investigate murders? -

private consulting detectives;
amateur detectives;
investigative journalists.

Poul Anderson has perhaps four private detectives, three of them science fictional, and also cameos the Great Detective in the first Time Patrol story;

Asimov's Elijah Bailey and Niven's Gil Hamilton are police;

Asimov's Wendell Urth and Black Widowers are amateurs;

Stieg Larsson's Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist whose investigation parallels that of the police.

Thus, Anderson contributes to detective fiction but (I think) to only one of the four kinds of investigators.