Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Keepers Of Life

Poul Anderson, The Corridors Of Time (London, 1968).

Storm Darroway tells Malcolm Lockridge that:

"'...the Wardens are keepers of life - life in its wholeness, boundedness, splendor, and tragedy - while the Rangers would make the world over in the machine's image.'" (p. 37)

While they walk from the time corridor to Avildaro through a primeval forest in 1827 BC, Poul Anderson lists the kinds of life that they see and hear:

briar and bramble;
fern and fungus;
moss and mistletoe;
oaks and logs;
many kinds of birds;
wild pig;

Beyond the forest:

a bog and a pool with frogs and a stork.

"Lockridge felt his spirit expand until it was one with the wilderness, drunk on sun and wind and the breath of flowers." (p. 45)

He reflects that the real, physical troubles of the outdoor life, and maybe also its rewards, are preferable to academic infighting and income tax.

"If Storm guards this, sure, I'm with her." (p. 46)

While "one with the wilderness," it is natural to support the "keepers of life." Lockridge does not yet know that the Wardens' "tragedy" of life encompasses inequality between palace-dwellers and ignorant serfs and also the annual burning of a chosen "Year Man" so that his life can go back into the land. Storm reminds him of human sacrifices in ancient times but does not tell him that they are still conducted in her future.

Lockridge, as the chieftain Lynx, persuades farmers in ancient Britain that human sacrifice is not pleasing to the gods. Unlike the Wardens and Rangers, Lynx uses his considerable influence to move society forward instead of holding it back.

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