Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Curious Openings

"The story is of a lost treasure guarded by curious monsters, and of captivity in a wilderness, and of a chase through reefs and shoals that could wreck a ship. There is a beautiful girl in it, a magician, a spy or two, and the rivalry of empires. So of course - Flandry was later tempted to say - it begins with a coincidence."
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 197.

"Every planet in the story is cold - even Terra, though Flandry came home on a warm evening of northern summer. There the chill was in the spirit."
-Poul Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 342.

These paragraphs open Chapter I of A Circus Of Hells and of A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, respectively. In each, the omniscient narrator - or is it in these cases simply the author?- directly addresses the reader with information about "the story." Thus, we do not really get into the fiction, willingly suspending our disbelief, until the second paragraph. This is odd.

Those "...reefs and shoals..." are the distorted gravity around a pulsar and the "...ship..." is a spaceship so the description is somewhat misleading. The "...magician..." is a scientist who has discovered the value of psychic techniques.

The "cold" planets are:

Terra (we have been there before);
Diomedes (we have been there before);
Dennitza (now capital of the Taurian Sector, where we have been before);
Chereion (it has been discussed before).

Thus, like any good installment of a future history, A Knight... stands firmly on the solid ground of earlier installments.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

And yet another opening paragraph for one of Anderson's Technic History novels which I consider to be very skillfully written can be found at the beginning of Chapter I of WE CLAIM THESE STARS!

While, strictlty, we might not get directly into the stories found in these works until the second paragraph, I had no difficulty suspending my disbelief. These paragraphs are teasers, meant to make the readers ask questions about what they are reading (whether or note they verbalize those questions) and entice them to continue perusing these stories--to find the answers to those questions.