Sunday, 10 July 2016

The End Of The Broken Sword

Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword (London, 1977).

What else can we glean from Odin's explanation and Imric's feelings?

Two of Anderson's novels, this one and War Of The Gods, are propelled by schemes of Odin;

there could/should have been a novel about Skafloc's son wielding Tyrfing;

Odin offered a way out - if Freda were to return to Skafloc... - but, because of Tyrfing, that backfires;

Skafloc is fey - I have just googled this word and learned that its meanings include "fated to die";

Imric says: "'Happier are all men than the dwellers in Faerie - or the gods, for that matter...Better a life like a falling star, bright across the dark, than a deathlessness which can see naught above or beyond itself." (p. 207)

Here, Imric assumes that this life is all we have. Elsewhere in the text, it is assumed that human beings have immortal souls. These two views of human life can alternate in a single text - and also in many people's minds. Anderson's alien character, Aycharaych, says that death is completion and that an immortal being is to be pitied. However, in some of Anderson's sf works, indefinitely extended lifespans can be meaningful.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I too regret how Poul Anderson nevered discovered and revealed to us what happened to Skafloc and Freda's son.

The thing to remember about Odin is that any advice he gives is likely to be treacherous or double edged. Skafloc could have been turned from his path if Freda returned to him? BUT, by returning at the very moment he was fighting Valgard, Freda DISTRACTED Skafloc from paying attention to his foe. That gave Valgard the chance he needed to kill Skafloc (and, ironically, being killed himself by Tyrfing).
It's my view Odin wanted Freda to go to Skafloc precisely because she would unwittingly bring about his death.

I remember Aycharaych's comment in WE CLAIM THESE STARS about death being a "completion." I understood that not as death bringing about an eternal nothingness to a person who died, but as beginning his life in the next world.

And the bit about Aycharaych PITYING "immortal God" stuck me as being either philosophically sublime or blasphemous. With different commentators taking different views about what Aycharaych said.

As you know, I am very skeptical about it being to INDEFINITELY extend human life spans. I can see it might be possible to extend the average human lifespan, but not indefinitely. Poul Anderson discusses different aspects and possibilities of this idea in WORLD WITHOUT STARS, THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS, FOR LOVE AND GLORY, and (kind of) the four HARVEST OF STARS books and GENESIS.