Thursday, 14 July 2016

Ageless But Not Undying

Poul Anderson, The Merman's Children (London, 1981), Book One, Chapter III, p. 16.

"Immortal" can mean indestructible, literally undying, or just unaging. See here. The merpeople are immortal only in the latter sense. In fact, they can be killed by:

sperm whale
sea serpent
dozens of other killer fish that hunt them
dangerous creatures that they hunt
tricks of wind and wave
poison fangs and spines

They lose all but a few of their young. For this reason, merwomen bear more children than the human Agnete who bore to the mer-king seven in eight years, three of whom have died.

In The Broken Sword, Ranulf Halldorsson, who raped Brigit, became a monk because of his experiences on Scattery, as does a zhupan's son in the Prologue to The Merman's Children. I should think that direct encounters with the supernatural would affect some people like that.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm surprised, I can see mer-people being KILLED or even dying of starvation, but not getting SICK.

And the MOTIVES of Ranulf Halldorsson for becoming a monk seems to have been better than those of Brigit for becoming a nun. I agree with how it is very likely direct experience with the supernatural, God or Satan, will strongly affect some people. Or ALL of them?