Sunday, 23 June 2013

From History To Legend And Myth

A fictitious character can become famous or notorious both in our world and in his. Thus, we read about Sherlock Holmes in works of fiction by Arthur Conan Doyle whereas inhabitants of the Holmesian universe read about him in their newspapers or in narratives of questionable accuracy by John Watson. The obituary for James Bond in You Only Live Twice reveals that some of Bond's exploits had received publicity and that a former friend and colleague had written highly inaccurate popular accounts of them, thus cleverly and amusingly accounting for some glaring inconsistencies between the earlier and later volumes of the series.

When interned on the hostile planet of Babur, Poul Anderson's character, David Falkayn, is told:

"'Maybe you imagine being famous will protect you. Well, forget that. You're a long ways off into a territory that doesn't care a good goddamn about your reputation.'" (Mirkheim, London, 1978, p. 74)

When Eric Tamarin receives a letter from his father, Nicholas van Rijn, he thinks:

"Old Nick himself...You hear stories about him throughout space as if he were already a myth..." (p. 127).

When they meet, van Rijn introduces a middle aged man to Eric:

"'Here is David Falkayn, you heard about him after the Shenna affair...'" (p. 130)

Eric reflects that:

"Van Rijn's visage [is] sharply remembered from documentary shows a decade ago following the Shenna business..." (p. 131)

Thus, van Rijn is a public figure on civilized planets and a hero of stories told in space. Such a figure can become a character in historical fictions such as those we read in Anderson's Technic History. In fact, he does. The story "Esau," starring Emil Dalmady and featuring van Rijn, which we read in Baen Books' The Van Rijn Method, was written by Dalmady's daughter, Judith, published in the magazine Morgana on David Falkayn's colony planet of Avalon and later collected in The Earth Book Of Stormgate by Hloch of the Stormgate Choth on Avalon.

Thus, we read not necessarily a fully accurate account of Dalmady's meeting with van Rijn but the account that was read by Avalonians a couple of generations later.

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