Monday, 9 July 2012

Parallel Narratives

In a hospital waiting room, one porter showed another a tabloid headline. The second smiled at the story, whatever it was, then asked, "Wha'? In real life or int' soap?" In other words, the story applied either to an actor or to that actor's character in a TV serial. First, the porter appreciated the story. Then, he checked which of our two parallel narratives it belonged to, news or fiction.

My daughter, overhearing her parents discussing the then current Mayor of our City, asked a question about a former ruler of Narnia - "while we were on the subject," as her mother commented.

My rereading of Poul Anderson's Orion Shall Rise has been interrupted by a weekend spent learning something about current economic problems and political conflicts in several European and Middle Eastern countries. Returning to the novel, I again appreciate Anderson's ability to present his fictitious world with plausible complexity and density.

Centuries in our future, the Northwest Union, defeated in war by the Maurai Federation, must accept, but successfully misleads, Maurai Inspectors checking wilderness areas for prohibited technology. Meanwhile, both Union and Federation spies are present in the Domain of Skyholm when one viewpoint character, a Gaean, stages a coup with Espaynian support while his opponent, another viewpoint character otherwise expected to be the next Captain of Skyholm, evades arrest, becoming a fugitive. For a second time in this series, Anderson makes us think that a Maurai spy has telepathy, then presents yet another explanation for the phenomenon. And so far I have reread only to page 177 of 468.

Episodic blogging provides an excellent opportunity to record an appreciation of a long novel in the course of rereading it, effectively presenting snapshots of the text rather then waiting to comment on the entire reading.

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