Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Guests In The Old Phoenix II

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest (London, 1975), Chapter xii.

Holger Carlsen:

"'...was born in - a universe where the Carolingian myths are true...'" (p. 102);

was cast into a timeline where magic does not work and where World War II was fought against Germany;

is trying to find his way home with a spell that takes him between universes but without any direction;

"'...barely escaped'" from "'...a clutch of Aztec gods...'" (ibid.);

from hints and clues, has found his way to the Old Phoenix.

When Rupert speaks of Hamlet and Macbeth as contemporaries of each other and of cannon in Hamlet's time and claims to have met Oberon and Titania, Valeria asks him:

Did Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Falstaff and Othello exist?
Was there a University of Wittenberg in Hamlet's time?
Were there striking clocks in Caesar's time?
Was Richard III "'...really a hunchbacked monster?'" (p. 104)
Did Bohemia have a sea coast?
Does witchcraft work?
Does Rupert know of William Shakespeare?

Rupert knows of Shakespeare as "'...the great Historian.'" (p. 105)

Richard III was hunchbacked in our timeline. See here.

The skeleton, which had several unusual physical features, most notably a severe curvature of the back was exhumed to allow scientific analysis. (copied) 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Guests In The Old Phoenix

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xii, p. 99.

The guests introduce themselves:

Valeria Matuchek from the United States of America;

Holger Carlsen of Denmark;

Rupert of the Rhine Palatinate, nephew of Charles I, grandson of King James VI of Scotland/I of England and of Queen Anne who had been a Danish princess (Rupert adds that England and Scotland have been friendly with Denmark at least since Hamlet).

Thus, we recognize:

Valeria and Holger from previous novels by Anderson;
Rupert and his royal relatives from history;
Hamlet from Shakespeare.

We realize that reality is turning itself inside out for our enjoyment and edification.

The Roman Connection

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xii, "LATER."

"'And this is Clodia Pulcher, come from Rome.'
"Will leered at her. Rupert was dumbfounded. 'That Clodia - Catullus' Lesbia?' he faltered. (His host nodded.) 'But she is dead this sixteen hundred years!'" (p. 97)

"primum Catullus Clodiae ipsi amorem declarare non audet..."
-Maurice Balme and James Morwood, Oxford Latin Course, Part III, revised impression (Oxford, 1994), Chapter X, "Catullus In Love," p. 104.

"da mi basia mille, deinde centum..." (ibid.)

"She crooned, to be heard only by him: 'Da mi basia mille.'" (A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xi, p. 94)

7 da mi basia mille, deinde centum, Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,      copied from here


The order of writing of works that feature or mention Valeria Matuchek was:

"Operation Changeling" (1969);
A Midsummer Tempest (1974);
"Losers' Night" (1991);
Operation Luna (1999).

In these works, Valeria:

is three years old and abducted to the Hell universe;
is a young adult and a witch (training or qualified?) traveling between universes;
is listed among women who had spectacular lives;
turns fifteen and is the first human being on the Moon in her timeline.

Thus, Operation Luna "retconned" a spectacular event into Valeria's teens. Poul Anderson did not yet know about Valeria's lunar expedition when he wrote the earlier published works.

In A Midsummer Tempest, Chapter xi, "THE TAPROOM OF THE OLD PHOENIX," Prince Rupert and Will Fairweather enter the inter-cosmic inn, the Old Phoenix. Already present are a man and a woman who continue their conversation. She addresses him as "Holger" (p. 93) and he addresses her as "Valeria" (p. 94). Thus we know, or begin to suspect, that we have met both before although Valeria is considerably older than when last seen in "Operation Changeling."

Later: In A Midsummer Tempest, Valeria is "'...on a field trip, collecting material for a master's thesis.'" (Chapter xii, p. 103)

Gods And Demons II

James Blish's Black Easter ends when World War III and Armageddon occur off-stage. We are told that the demons have won the latter. Near the end of Poul Anderson's Operation Luna, gods and demons fight onstage. The gods win.

The Day After Judgment, the sequel to Black Easter, ends when Satan declares that mankind must begin a long evolution towards Godhood and undoes the effects of World War III. Operation Luna ends when an archangel undoes the effects of the battle between gods and demons.

Parallels between these works by Blish and Poul and Karen Anderson's The King Of Ys are discussed here.

Operation Luna is the sequel to Operation Chaos. A parallel between that work and The Day After Judgment is noted here.

The End

Does Poul Anderson's Operation Luna (New York, 2000) end somewhat abruptly? In the TOR paperback, the text ends at the very bottom of p. 438. After that, there are:

two blank pages, 439-440 if they are to be numbered;

the inside back cover with a photograph of the author and two sentences about him;

the back cover with an illustration, blurb and publication information.

At the top of p. 438, gods and demons are still in a battle that had begun on p. 435;
on p. 438 -

- the remaining demons flee;
the gods' allies relax;
a trumpet peals;
a choir sings;
the fifth archangel, Cambiel, fills the sky with his radiance, covers the constellations with his wings and removes all traces of the battle with a wave of his hand;
the Native American gods vanish;
the human beings fly home;
the wolf howls.

We want to know more about:

all the universes and pantheons;
Heaven and Hell;
the One God and His Adversary;
the future lives and careers of the Matucheks;
the future of goetic space exploration and colonization.

Poul Anderson's vast output is just one small part of all possible universes.

Gods And Demons

(Meanwhile in real life: Bank Holiday Monday, walk along the River Lune, stalls and refreshments at a village church flower festival.)

Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000).

Steve Matuchek thinks of:

"...starting a movement to restore woodlands and flowery meadows on Earth, so the Fair Folk could visit their mother more often." (Chapter 48, p. 424)

We can think of:

"...starting a movement to restore woodlands and flowery meadows on Earth..."

- because this would be worthwhile in any case. The Fair Folk are in our imaginations, literature and visual art. Earth should be made worthy of them and us.

Valeria Matuchek pursued by demons from the Moon need not decelerate while approaching Earth because Native American gods absorb her momentum. Next, there is a gods and demons battle on Earth. The gods include Coyote and Shalako, the latter described as bird-headed and twice as high as a tall man.

Steve, werewolf, kills a mandarin;
Fjalar, dwarf, kills an armored, sword-wielding demon with his hammer;
Svartalf, cat, fights a cat demon until Steve kills it for him;
Svartalf and Edgar, raven, chase two rat-sized demons;
Curtice, celestonaut, kills a seven foot boar-headed demon with the sentient sword;
Coyote confuses a woman-shark demon by changing shape, then gets on its back and breaks its neck;
Ginny, witch, disperses a goryo with her wand;
a Native American priest and two kachinas repulse demons trying to reach Valeria and the broomstick;
the Twin War Gods fight with spears and shields;
the fire god's torch sets foes aflame;
the ogres of discipline club;
the kachinas smite;
the Mudheads bounce;
the Shalako tread the enemy underfoot;
Water Strider, Grandmother Spider and the Northwest Raven arrive;
the surviving demons panic, break and scatter.

My summary is condensed but Anderson's text is almost as condensed. It is too easy to read through it quickly and not to retain most of its details.

Legitimacy Lost

During Dominic Flandry's lifetime, four men plan or attempt to seize the Imperial Throne by force:

Hugh McCormac;
Hans Molitor;
Edwin Cairncross;
Olaf Magnusson.

They are not all defeated by Flandry and this is not just a good guys-bad guys routine. In fact, McCormac is a good guy, especially when contrasted with the Emperor Josip -  and his sidekick, Snelund, who is the real villain of the piece. However, Flandry defends the principle of legitimacy in government. Of course, he not only defeats the McCormac Rebellion but also knows how to dispose of Snelund.

There are some bad guys in the list. Cairncross is self-serving and Magnusson is a Merseian sleeper. Flandry defeats McCormac and Cairncross. Flandry's daughter, Diana Crowfeather, defeats Magnusson. Molitor succeeds. Flandry winds up working for a usurper. This statement might shock blog readers not familiar with the Flandry series but Poul Anderson explores every possibility.

We should add that legitimate succession had been lost and the civil wars had begun before Molitor contended for power. Nevertheless, he founds a new dynasty by force alone - or is that how they all begin?

Addendum: See Comments. Sean refers to his articles which can be found here.

Valeria on The Moon II

Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000), Chapter 47.

Does Valeria have it rather easy on the Moon? She lands on the demon-infested Moon but:

she lands among the exiled Fair Folk;
they tell her that there are less than a hundred demons;
the demons are scattered because, although they were expecting Valeria, they did not know where she would land;
three attack;
she kills them, following her sentient sword's good advice ("...no silly overhead cuts leaving your belly wide open..." (p. 420);
a fairy enters her broomstick to help it back to Earth;
she takes off just as more demons swarm over the horizon.

Fair Folk And Mortals

Fairy opinions of humanity:

Lord, what fools these mortals be!
-copied from here.

"Nor do we understand any more the souls of most men, who no longer walk in awe and worship, but question everything and seek ways to bend the whole world to their will."
-Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000), Chapter 47, p, 417.

Thesis: awe;
Antithesis: questioning;
Synthesis: both - why should they be contradictory?

CS Lewis argued that the power of man over nature was really the power of some men over others with nature as the instrument. Not necessarily. All men can cooperate to understand and control natural forces like electricity without either harming each other or "bending" the world in the process.