Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Talwin, Tachwyr and Telepathy

The Day Of Their Return is not a Flandry novel but it does refer to and quote from Flandry. More than this, it summarises a short Flandry story though in an unusual form. As part of an Intelligence report, we read that, while at the joint Terran-Merseian scientific base on Talwin, which he had earlier helped to found, Flandry corrupted a Merseian and started to learn about the mysterious planet Chereion. Thus, this incident is an important link in the narratives of Flandry's dealings with Talwin and with Merseians and with Aycharaych, the Chereionite telepath.
In the later novel, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, Captain Sir Dominic Flandry, again on Talwin, has important conversations first with Qanryf Tachwyr the Dark, then with Aycharaych. These beings are Flandry's opposite numbers in their respective species. When Flandry was an Ensign visiting Merseia, he was invited to tour the planet with young Merseians whose rank corresponded roughly to his.

These included Tachwyr whose rank of mei answered roughly to lieutenant. Decades later, in The Game Of Empire, when Flandry is an Admiral and occasional Imperial adviser, Tachwyr, now Hand of the Vach Dathyr, has replaced Brechdan Ironrede as the Protector of the Roidhun's Grand Council, i.e., as prime minister of unified Merseia. Both have come as far as they can in their respective services. The conversation on Talwin comes long after the days of their shared youth but before their ultimate promotions.

An anomaly emerges here because, when, in the novel A Circus Of Hells, Flandry met Tachwyr for a second time on the planet Irumclaw, he then greeted him as a member of the Vach Rueth. Merseians do not change their Vachs. However, Anderson had a standard reply to inconsistency-spotters which I have quoted elsewhere in these articles.

The Talwinian conversation with Aycharaych defines both characters. But, further than this, Aycharaych comments on humanity. He asks whether the imminence of death 

"...may be the root of your greatness as a race...Could a St. Matthew Passion have welled from an immortal Bach?" (1)

Surely all races, including Chereionites, are mortal? But perhaps the Chereionites, who are also the legendary Ancients, Forerunners etc, live longer and have a different attitude to death? Elsewhere, Aycharaych called death a "...completion". (2)

(1) Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, London, 1978, p. 102.
(2) Poul Anderson, We Claim These Stars!, New York, 1959, p. 15.

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