Saturday, 4 June 2016


The reader of a work of fiction can be persuaded to feel sympathy for a character who is dying.

"'...have I atoned?' he asked in a thin anxious voice. 'For the murder I did at my old king's behest - that I laid a helpless infant upon the mountainside and watched him die - have I atoned, King's countryman? For it was that prince's death...which brought the land close to ruin...but I found another Cyrus! I saved us! Have I atoned?'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 102.

Time Patrolman Manson Everard tells Harpagus that he has atoned but wonders how much authority he has to say this.

Adzel the Wodenite cradles the dying revolutionary, Benoni Strang, who gasps:

"'Listen. Tell them. Why should you not tell them? You're not human, it's nothing to you. I brought everything about...I, from the first...for the sake of Hermes, only for the sake of Hermes. A new day on this world I love so much...Tell them. Don't let them forget. There will be other days.'"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 276.

"Blood spouted. Nagon went to his knees. 'Oh, Lydris,' he bubbled from his mouth - the name of his wife. He crumpled on his face and scrabbled weakly for a while. Blood flowed from him slower and slower, out into an enormous puddle whose red caught the lightning-light."
-Poul and Karen Anderson, The Dog and The Wolf, Chapter XIX, section 4, p. 384.

(That thunder storm is still going on.) The entirely malicious Nagon cannot be identified with a worthy cause but can be shown to have had a wife.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have the most sympathy for Harpagus, who could at least claim to have simply been obeying Astyages' orders. Even tho those were orders which should not have been accepted.

And I have less than zero sympathy for Benoni Strang, who tried to destroy a very tolerable socio/political system to right relatively trivial "wrongs." With no regard for the predictable consequences of his acts, including the setting up of a brutal dictatorship on Hermes.