Tuesday, 3 July 2012

More About The Maurai II

The original Maurai series is just three stories set centuries apart, thus with no characters in common. The third story, "Windmill," unlike the others, has a first person narrator. The story is his letter to a character whom we do not see and begins mid-sentence. Again, it shows a Maurai abroad so the concluding passage of the second story, "Progress," remains our only sight in this series of their home civilization.

"Windmill" confirms that the Merican god Oktai had been imported by Mong invaders who have since been expelled. The dark ages are past and more people now place their trust in science.

The Maurai enforce ecological conservation at the expense of the kind of rapid industrial and technological progress that had squandered resources, causing overpopulation and nuclear war. Thus, Anderson comments on his period while addressing major issues and showing his characters disagreeing about them.

Windmills as such are of course acceptable. However, the windmills of the title are being used to pump dry a water table that is "...vital to an entire ecology..." so they must be stopped just as an atomic power station was destroyed in "Progress." (1)

Anderson also shows us the society changing. First, the narrator proposes, in "...a radical break with tradition...," that the Maurai help those whom they have dispossessed to reclaim stony ocean islands with topsoil, seeds, rainwater cisterns, solar stills, palm and breadfruit culture and sea ranching. (1) Secondly, the leader of the dispossessed community ends the story by reminding the Maurai that they will not be powerful forever...

That conclusion could have led into a sequel. However, the next Maurai-related work is not another short story but a long novel, Orion Shall Rise, which begins with an Author's Note explaining that this new work is not fully consistent with the earlier stories, although the novel does derive its title from "Windmill":

"...risings of Orion and the Cross unseen!" (2)

(1) Anderson, Poul, "Windmill" IN Anderson, P, Maurai And Kith, New York, 1982, pp. 139-168 AT p. 167.
(2) ibid., p. 165.

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