Thursday, 7 March 2013

Appreciating Details

I have come to think that posting brief blog notes about Poul Anderson's works while rereading them is the best way to appreciate many details that otherwise would be missed or quickly forgotten. In recent posts, I have highlighted what I think are some of his most imaginative and evocative passages:

the long space journeys in "Starfog" and Tau Zero;
significant references to Eve and Embla as a cosmic cycle nears its end in Tau Zero;
the three thousand year old Hugh Valland, who had shipped in the first star ship, viewing the galaxy from a porch on an orbiting starport in World Without Stars.

Earlier highlights included:

many successive future periods visited by time travelers in "Flight to Forever";
many exotic cosmic locations visited by space-time travelers in The Avatar;
the chronological history of the Time Patrol;
time travelers rendezvousing in Jerusalem on the presumed day of the Crucifixion in There Will Be Time;
a mythical cosmology in which a ship leaves Midgard not by ascending into space but by sailing north to Jotunheim in The Broken Sword;
a historical novel in which a ship sailing north encounters icebergs and a whale in The Last Viking trilogy;
the city of York in a historical past, an alternative past and a parallel present in three different works;
artificially preserved personalities and conscious computer "emulations" in a remote, post-human future in Genesis;
Dominic Flandry's raid on the planet Chereion in A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows.

But this list could be extended indefinitely. Anderson, like Olaf Stapledon before him, is at home in realms that many others do not know about.

I am pausing to ponder past posts instead of continuing to comment on World Without Stars because, as on a few previous occasions, I have been diverted into reading something else. A family day trip to Liverpool means eating in a vegetarian cafe, meditating in the Anglican Cathedral and browsing or purchasing in Forbidden Planet. Thus, I am taking a rest from Anderson by reading Vicious Circle, a Felix Castor novel by Mike Carey. (Carey, Castor and (John) Constantine, whom Carey has also written, all come from Liverpool.) Since Castor deals with ghosts, werebeasts and demons, he is not far from some of Anderson's territory.

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