Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Pathetic Fallacy On Earth And Harbor

Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

In a Seladorian ritual, the leader chants, "'...oneness.'" (p. 461) Then:

"The voice grew shrill. '...bring down the falsehoods of the Biosophists...'
"A carnivore screamed, somewhere off in the dark. Zeyd wondered how serene Earth really was and how long its peace could endure." (ibid.)

A carnivore screaming in darkness is a perfect counterpoint to, and comment on, someone chanting "oneness," then denouncing falsehoods. Are the the carnivore and the darkness within the Seladorian?

Nansen the starfarer visits an empty Kith Town. History, indeed. We saw this place bustling with life millennia earlier and, even then, were given a brief history of how a city had grown up around the Town, then the surrounding City district had economically declined. Five years after visiting Earth and its empty Kith Town, Nansen leads the new Venture League on Harbor at Tau Ceti:

"Though it was summer in this hemisphere, to Earthside eyes the sunshine spilling from the blue would have had a mellow, autumnal quality." (p. 464)

Nansen has returned from far space to the autumn of interstellar travel but hopes that it will have a new spring and summer. Another perfect pathetic fallacy. Mirkheim ends with a sunrise (a beginning) that is red (the color associated with sunsets, an end). Anderson's prose affects his readers whether or not they analyze it.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree, the carnivore screaming in the nighttime darkness and the denunciation of the falsehoods of the Biosophists are meant to hint that not all is truly serene within Seladorian civilization. That strains and stresses exist which might someday break it.