Saturday, 30 November 2013
Time Is Passing
The framing sequences and character continuity in Poul Anderson's and Gordon R Dickson's Earthman's Burden (New York, 1979) are provided by Alexander Jones who:
(i) visits Toka as an ensign in "The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch";
(ii) is visited by his fiancee, Tanni, while hosting Hokas on Earth in "Don Jones";
(iii) accompanied by his wife, Tanni, is plenipotentiary to Toka in "In Hoka Signo Vinces";
(iv) has been plenipotentiary for nearly ten years in "The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound";
(v) mentions the birth of their child in a letter appearing as an interlude between "The Adventure..." and "Yo Ho Hoka!"
I will look out for further such marks of the passage of time while reading the series.
In Isaac Asimov's Robot stories, character continuity is provided not by any of the robots but only by the woman and men (robopsychologist, trouble shooters, US Robots executives and representatives etc) dealing with the robots. Jones performs exactly this role with the Hokas, heading off trouble or dealing with it when it arises.
In fact, he shows that he is aware of the potential dangers to which I alluded in the immediately preceding post:
"Can you imagine what would happen if I admitted a band of preachers who not only read from the Old Testament - and won't give our local rabbis a chance to explain the details - but hand out illustrated biographies of Oliver Cromwell?" (p. 123)
Yea, verily. Exactly so. Jones' job is to prevent disasters and to keep the series on the comic level.
Hokas are protean, not physically but mentally. They have no language, traditions, stories or world-view of their own that they want to preserve. They must have had something originally but they don't want to preserve it. Instead, they eagerly, energetically embrace and live whatever myth, fiction or drama they receive from human beings, even including the English language suitably adapted to different contexts.
I wanted to read more about Holmesian London but that is not the point of the series. When Jones, still within the Hokan "England," goes to Plymouth, he is about to encounter pre-Holmesian pirates.