Friday, 13 December 2013
A Man To My Wounding
"I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt." - Genesis, iv, 23.
- quoted in Poul Anderson, The Horn Of Time (New York, 1968), p. 27.
I thought that this meant that the speaker had wounded and hurt himself by killing a young man. However, the Revised Standard Version gives:
"I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me." Gen. 4. 23.
- the exact opposite meaning.
The story shows legalized drug use and legal assassinations. One contributor to the SFWA Bulletin advised fellow writers:
think of something that is shocking to us;
then imagine that it has become the social norm;
then deduce its logical implications.
It has been argued that it makes more sense to kill not soldiers or civilians but leaders. One man who wrote a book called Killing No Murder, when interviewed on British television, was asked, "Is there any politician who you think should be assassinated?" and replied, "I cannot answer that question because I have been warned that I could then be charged with incitement to murder."
Anderson imagines declared states of war replaced by declared states of assassination. The Bureau of National Protection (in Britain at present, an unfortunate set of initials) must protect politicians whom it thinks that the declared enemy will try to assassinate.
However, states of assassination escalate. The Chinese try to kill not the present American leaders, who are too well guarded, but potential leaders, like leading members of a party that has just lost an election but might win the next one. This could escalate further to include important leaders in other fields: scientists; writers; even gifted children; also bystanders too close to the targets. All such potential victims in every country must be protected indefinitely so that states of assassination, far from limiting the killing, become as horrific as states of war.
Thus, the story ends:
"'Where is it going to end?'" (p. 43)