Sunday, 21 December 2014

Time Past And The Threshold Of The Future

In Poul Anderson's Mirkheim, Lady Sandra Tamarin asks herself:

"Is our time past? Is the whole wild, happy age of the pioneers? Are we today crossing the threshold of the future?"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 116.

- thus summarizing the theme of the novel. In one sense, we are always at the threshold between past and future. No one ever lives in anything but their own present. Nevertheless, times are changing yet again in Lady Sandra's period. It is fitting that Mirkheim opens an omnibus collection entitled Rise Of The Terran Empire even though the Empire itself is not proclaimed until much later in this volume. A lot more has to happen before that but it all leads in the same direction. Van Rijn, Adzel and Chee Lan also make telling statements about changing times but I have quoted them earlier on this blog. See here.

However, in a vast three dimensional spatial universe, the age of the pioneers need never be over. During the Breakup, human beings left the Solar System. When times change, they can leave known space. Van Rijn, who had looked old but "...refused to be pitiable..." (p. 254), tells Sandra:

"'...maybe we will lead a little expedition quite outside of known space, for whatever we may find... You take the Long Trail with me!... A universe where all roads lead to roaming. Life never fails us. We fail it, unless we reach out.'" (p. 287)

"...roaming..." is perhaps van Rijn's most appropriate malapropism although I also like "...daring exploitation..." (p. 36) as a portmanteau combination of "exploration" and "expedition."

Never The End.

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