Monday, 27 January 2014

A Logical Conclusion

I am checking back through the Poul Anderson collections in my possession for any as yet unread short stories. The fourth story in Fantasy (New York, 1981) is "A Logical Conclusion," originally published in Fantastic Universe, 1960. I recognize that title but have no memory of having read the story. In this collection, it is the first of five works grouped together under the heading, "A-Historical."

The second and third "A-Historical" works are two Cappen Varra stories, "The Valor of Cappen Varra" and "The Gate of the Flying Knives." I have posted on these previously.

The fourth, "The Barbarian," is a fictitious letter written in the Howard-de Camp period of 175,000 BC and I do not seem to have read that either. The fifth is an article, "On Thud and Blunder." I have read this but it makes sense to reread it and to make some comments here.

I have yet to learn the significance of the title, "A Logical Conclusion." The story is told to the first person narrator by a publisher called Greenough in a New York bar - not, unfortunately, in the Old Phoenix. Thus, it is conceivable that Greenough is lying or deluded. However, after four pages of bar conversation, the narration shifts to a third person account from Greenough's point of view in his alternative world where the constellations are the same but unicorns and gods exist and magic works.

A Goddess has moved Greenough's mind into the body of the pirate, Kendrith of Narr, because she wants Greenough's other worldly knowledge to fight a war. For example, Greenough innovates with gliders launched by catapults but, unfortunately, a Warlock on the other side raises a storm that destroys the gliders. Meanwhile, Kendrith must cope as a publisher and lives with Greenough's wife... Or is this what is really happening? I must read on to find out.

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