Friday, 27 November 2015

"Merseian bastards..."

"'Merseian bastards,' growled the marine."
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 198.

Why do I quote this unmemorable and indeed somewhat distasteful phrase? In fact, the two words growled by the marine serve three literary functions.

(i) For those in the know, they confirm that this novel, The Game Of Empire, is part of Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization where the Terran Empire and the Merseian Roidhunate have often clashed.

(ii) In any case, this reference to a hostile green-skinned alien provides that note of the colorful and exotic that we seek in any sf future history series.

(iii) But at the same time the fact that the marine refers to a recent military/naval skirmish with these "bastards" provides that contrasting note of plausibility that we also welcome. The fictional reality differs in interesting ways from the world familiar to us from newspapers and television but also parallels it in other ways that make sense. We can simultaneously enjoy the differences and appreciate the credibility.

(ii) and (iii) are the two points that I made here at the beginning of the previous post.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor , Paul!

You are missing the context which made the marine's growl about "Merseian bastards" make sense. That is, as an Imperial loyalist this marine naturally resented the never ending probings and border clashes so often provoked by the Merseians. So, naturally, as would many of US, he would say things like "Merseian bastards." I almost certainly would have, as well, in similar circumstances!

Glory to the Emperor! Sean