Thursday, 4 December 2014

A Vast, Multi-Faceted Fictitious Universe

I think that it will be worthwhile to analyze what went on in the previous post. I began by listing kinds of ice because this was an interesting technical detail in the short Dominic Flandry novel, "Hunters Of The Sky Cave." I was not sure how far this would take us but was prepared to find out.

Sure enough, there were two interesting outcomes. First, a routine google search for the Great Red Spot on Jupiter disclosed that current understanding of this phenomenon differs from Flandry's, published in 1959. The Red Spot is not after all a red kind of ice. Secondly, something said by Flandry while on the Red Spot initiated a discussion of attitudes to death and even to me quoting Dylan Thomas.

The moral of this story is that Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization is a vast multi-faceted fictitious universe and that, as with the real universe, it is possible to reflect on reality and life as they are focused through historical events and through the biographies of historical figures.

Two further points about death:

I prefer Dylan Thomas' "And Death Shall Have No Dominion."

"And death shall have no dominion.
"Dead men naked they shall be one
"With the man in the wind and the west moon;
"When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
"They shall have stars at elbow and foot..."

This is relevant here because that last quoted line gives us the title of Volume I of James Blish's future history.

Secondly, I recently referred here to a conversation between Flandry and Aycharaych. I could have added that this conversation discloses Aycharaych's attitude to death: it is "'A completion.'" (Sir Dominic Flandry, p. 164)

"Call no man happy until he is dead" (see here) I think means that a life must be complete before it can be evaluated although, in Volume I of James Blish's theological trilogy, a medieval monk presents the safer Scholastic interpretation: the dead man is happy in Heaven.

Aycharaych's philosophical cynicism is displayed yet again when later he sets out to "complete" Flandry's life.

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