Friday, 14 November 2014

Luna And Iapetus

Poul Anderson's explorers of Iapetus see "A darkling plain..." (The Van Rijn Method, p. 8). "...darkling..." is somewhat archaic and definitely Wellsian. it is in The Time Machine (see here), The First Men In The Moon (see here) and even a, to me, previously unknown title (see here).

This invites a comparison. Wells contented himself with a single description of a first visit to another world, the Moon, whereas Poul Anderson was, of course, a space age sf writer for whom visits to other planets had already become routine, at least in imagination:

"Unlike the large Titan- and Saturn-vicinity explorers, landers on the airless moons were simply modified Luna-to-space shuttles, reliable but with limited capabilities." (p. 16)

CS Lewis either said or quoted that only the first visit to a new world is of interest to the reader of imagination, his point being that, when the new world has become familiar and routinized, then it is no longer a new world. True enough, but Anderson also knew that each entire world retains mysteries and unknowns and is seen afresh not only by each new generation but also by anyone who is able to look with new eyes. This earlier post is relevant.

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