Thursday, 4 February 2016

A Large Gathering In The Old Phoenix

Poul Anderson, A Midsummer Tempest (London, 1975), Epilogue, pp. 228-229.

During a later visit to the Old Phoenix, Valeria recognizes:

a monk with a wolf;
a drunken Chinaman writing a poem;
a rangy fellow with a harp;
a man with an iridescent jewel on his wrist;
a lean Victorian with a lame companion;
a freckled boy with a black companion "...in tatterdemalion farm clothes..." (p. 228);
a warrior with coppery skin, a feather crown, a calumet and an ear of maize.

I recognize only two of them, both fictional in our timeline. There are others whom she does not recognize and some of those are not human.

In Valeria's timeline as in ours, Prince Rupert helped invent the mezzotint. Her and our timelines diverge about 1900. Valeria identifies the real New World as science, "...reason triumphant..." (p. 229), hopeful, challenging and liberating. Yes, if other social forces do not destroy it.

9 comments:

David Birr said...

Paul:
One of the legends of St. Francis of Assisi was his taming of a wolf that had been terrorizing the city of Gubbio, so I assumed the monk with the wolf was Francis.

The man with the iridescent jewel almost has to be from the Lensman series. He's wearing gray leather, mark of the elite among Lensmen, therefore I feel it's likely he's Kim Kinnison himself.

I can't think of anyone BUT Sherlock Holmes for the Victorian to be, and I'm guessing he's one of those you recognized. The freckled "tatterdemalion" boy with the black companion, I take to be Huckleberry Finn with Jim.

The Native American seems probably to be Hiawatha -- the fictional hero from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, not the historical figure of the same name. Fictional Hiawatha's deeds include introducing the cultivation of maize to his people.

As for the "gorgeously drunk" Chinese and the harpist, I have no guesses.

ndrosen said...

Kaor, David!

I think the drunken poet would be Li Po, or however his name is officially transliterated these days. He wrote poems in praise of wine and drunkenness, among other things, back in, IIRC, Tang Dynasty times. Being a round-eyed barbarian myself, I haven't studied his work, but he is famous in the Middle Kingdom, and known of elsewhere.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think the drunken Chinese poet is either Li Po or Tu Fu, two poets from the T'ang Dynasty that many Chinese revere as among their greatest poets. They both had a weakness for drinking!

Sean

David Birr said...

Gleetings and harrucinations, all!
And it occurred to me as I woke up this morning that it'd be hilariously appropriate if the man with the harp was Golias from John Myers Myers' *Silverlock*. "Hilariously appropriate" because PA greatly admired *Silverlock*; in his preface to the 1979 edition, he said, "A lot of the fun lies in recognizing old friends" in the story. Well, he's playing that same game here in the Old Phoenix, isn't he?

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

So you too have read John Myers Myers' SILVERLOCK? It was fun to read! And, yes, Myers had fun putting in characters from history and literature in the book. And, yes, PA is doing the same with the "Old Phoenix" stories and "interludes."

Sean

David Birr said...

Sean:
Incidentally, I've acquired a later edition of *Silverlock*, with appended material including a guide to those characters not recognized -- AND several quotes from letters Myers sent to a friend. I mention this last because he stated in one of those letters that Poul Anderson had sent him a copy of *A Midsummer Tempest* and he "savored" it ... although he liked *Hrolf Kraki's Saga*, which PA sent "as a companion piece," even more.

Myers' assessment of PA on Hrolf Kraki:
"It seemed that this work bubbled out of the man, which can happen only when an author gets hold of a theme that he was born to handle."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

I was very interested by your comments! MY copy of SILVERLOCK is the second Ace Books printing of August, 1979. And the first of the three Forewords was by Poul Anderson (the others being by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle).

Alas, I don't have the "expanded" version of SILVERLOCK you have. And I'm very glad John Myers Myers enjoyed Anderson's A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST and HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA.

Sean

David Birr said...

Sean:
Those three forewords are reprinted in the newer (2004) edition -- along with one by KAREN Anderson. Alas, Jim Baen's editorial note, in which he described how Anderson, Niven, and Pournelle demanded that he publish the '79 edition (and said he didn't REALLY believe they'd break both his arms if he refused), wasn't included.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Now that's tempting, getting a copy of SILVERLOCK with a foreword by PA's widow, Karen! And I'm a bit sorry Jim Baen's amusing note was not included in the later edition.

Sean