Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Art Of The Unexpected

The meaning of a text can be changed by a sequel. In PC Wren's Beau Trilogy, later volumes disclose that what we thought we knew when we read the first volume was wrong. There are scriptural precedents:

in the Hebrew canon, the Prophets apply the Law;
in the Catholic and Protestant canons, they prophesy Christ;
in the Koran, they include Jesus and culminate in Mohammad;
in the Granth, there are hymns written by Muslims.

Poul Anderson's first future history + interstitial passages by Sandra Miesel = an alternative history.

Although Anderson's Technic History is not presented as an alternative history, its major character, Nicholas van Rijn, visits the Old Phoenix, an inn accessed by important figures from alternative histories.

SM Stirling's Draka Volumes I and II present an alternative history of the twentieth century. Volume III introduces interplanetary travel and ends with a successful extrasolar colony in 2107 AD (109 Dispersal). However, Volume IV (see image) returns us to Earth in the 442nd Year of the Final Society (2442 AD). Further, the blurb makes clear that this will be a novel about travel between alternative histories! Thus, reading Vol IV immediately after Vol III requires such a massive change of perspective that I will need a short while to readjust.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The prophets of the OT did not merely apply the Law, they also rebuked and chastised the Jews for betraying or falling away from the Law.

I've read DRAKON twice, but I've better say nothing about it, I don't want to spill too many beans!