Sunday, 26 April 2015

Moving Forward

Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).

When is the division between historical and contemporary fiction? Chapters I-XIV of Boat move from 310 BC to 1872 AD. The latter is almost contemporary by comparison. The remaining five chapters are set respectively in:

an unspecified future.

My mother was born in 1918 and died a few years ago. Thus, Chapters XV-XVIII were set in her lifetime whereas only Chapter XVIII was set in mine.

We are moving from historical fiction into contemporary fiction, then into futuristic science fiction. Anderson seems to have incorporated all of his interests into this single novel. The meeting in 998 AD between Nornagest and Starkadh is akin to, and similar in theme to, his historical fantasies. Neither of these legendary heroes survives to meet Hanno etc so it is as if they had existed in a world of their own. Heroes of historical fantasies do not meet heroes of futuristic sf (except in the Old Phoenix). Even that customary separation between characters of different genres is preserved in the pages of this single narrative.

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