Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Clues To The Dark Side

In Poul Anderson's The Night Face, the Gwydiona religion, philosophy or way of life posits that everything, including death, ruin and sorrow, is a facet of the eternal and infinite Oneness. However, Gwydiona arts, literature and daily lives are mostly sunny and cheerful. They are hiding something from themselves.

Although their society is without crime, a house has thick concrete walls, steel-shuttered windows and a wood-faced steel door with a massive, though unused, lock. The construction of houses like fortresses is said to symbolize the strength of the family.

Although it seems that every part of the environment is interpreted symbolically, the baleflower with five-pointed leaves is just a baleflower and it seems better not to ask about it.

Although the Gwydiona are one with nature, their population has moved entirely into the towns. Extra-planetary explorers find an abandoned and ruined village where houses were burned and there are skeletons of people who clearly died violently.Nobody knows why.

What does all this mean? We do not know yet, but Anderson builds a sense of menace in an apparently peaceful civilization.

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