Thursday, 7 May 2015


Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

"The robot spun back from impact. The slugs tore through its plating. It gyred off, jets dead." (p. 110)

I have encountered "gyre" in a poem by WB Yeats:

"There all the barrel-hoops are knit,
"There all the serpent tails are bit,
"There all the gyres converge in one,
"There all the planets drop in the Sun."

This is relevant to Anderson's hard sf because it refers to planets and the Sun.

- and in a comic verse by Lewis Carroll: see here.

This is relevant to Anderson's heroic fantasy because it describes a young man killing a monster with a sword.

In Starfarers, armed spacemen resemble fantasy warriors:

"In the harsh sunlight, they shone like armored knights.The jetpacks on their backs were like the wings of the warrior angel Michael." (ibid.)

One of these shining figures shoots an attacking robot vessel which then gyres away so that "gyre" becomes a verb as in Carroll, not a noun as in Yeats.

One word in Anderson's text generates (at least) two interesting literary references. I want to post more this evening but am preoccupied with other activities, including British elections today not only for Parliament but also for Lancaster City Council. To quote Carroll again:

"The lion and the unicorn
"Were fighting for the crown..."

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And we know that Poul Anderson was a fan of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" books!

I've been wondering about the UK elections. If no party wins a Commons majority, then you will get a "hung" Parliament. The end result might well be a shaky, short lived coalition gov't.